I was dreaming to come and photograph Formula D for quite some years and 2016 was the year for me. FD at Wall Speedway neatly fitted to my holidays in New York. I jumped into a rental and drove those 100 miles to New Jersey state jumping few road tolls on the way (why nobody warns that there maybe no one in the booth and that only exact coins are accepted?)
I’m a bit spoiled with FD drivers in general, meeting and seeing half of them in action on different European circuits, but when it all comes together – it’s a special feeling. Jarod DeAnda on a mic, Larry Chen shooting from spots where no other photographer can go and every run is executed at maximum attack.
I arrived early on Thursday, which officially is the practice day. Most teams were just unpacking the stuff. I was hanging in the paddock area, greeting drivers, shooting details and so on: “- Hey Fredric, what’s up? – All cool man, nice to see you here; Hi Ken, have a moment for an autograph? – Sure, want something to drink? ; Hey Ryan, what’s up? – Cool cap man! (wearing Fail Crew snap back)”. After these small talks you taste the difference between baltic or nordic drift atmosphere, almost no driver will be open and glad to chat for a bit.
America does the trick here, marketing is on a very high level, so deeply implemented into the sport that my only question is, where are Formula D Hot Wheels, ’cause I want them! In all seriousness: promos are everywhere, staggering amount of merchandise and free giveaways, all sorts of entertainment for fans.
Action starts, drivers make test lap after lap, weather is hot and sunny, which makes the photos worse. Teams don’t save tires, attacking as if it’s qualifying. Crowds are minimum, Thursday is not really a racing day.
Friday get’s more interesting. Drivers and teams are more focused, runs are more consistent, you can feel that there’s more tension, spotters make more notes, drivers themselves come and check what line and approach others take.
It’s qualifying time. Last proper chance to search for interesting shooting angles, since tomorrow it’s D day and every image should come out sharp and usable.
Dai Yoshihara got most points for qualification making it look easy.
I don’t remember all the scores already, but the battle was tight – everybody wants to start on a high note.
Racing was over for Friday, but crowds didn’t plan on going away – time for autography session.
And now another entertainment gem – open air cinema with some of the best automotive short films of 2016.
Race day. Short training in the morning and it’s time for the main part of the event.
Battles were tough, especially for the judges. If you remember, this was the event, where some arguments appeared and Forest Wang even left Formula D for some time.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. was on top of his game and took the win
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And let’s recap how the rest of the season went for Formula D drivers. Basically Chris Forsberg and Fredric Aasbo were battling till the very end. Chris was consistent, but didn’t win a single event, Aasbo won two times, but lost few times early as well. The Top 16 saw many spoilers and upsets as Forsberg crashed in his chase run against Patrick Mordaunt giving a small chance to Aasbo. In Aasbo’s Top 16 battle against Matt Field, Aasbo initiated contact on his chase lap giving the edge to Field, which ultimately cost him the decision to give Forsberg the 2016 Pro Championship. This makes Forsberg the first 3-time Formula DRIFT champion and first champion to win without winning a single round of competition. Forsberg also is awarded the 2016 Formula DRIFT World Championship.
Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis still proves to be title competitor, finishing in Top 5 for three years in a row.
Mad Mike Whidett – really want to see this guy at his best.
Same for Ryan Tuerck, last two seasons were really strong, but I want to see you win mate
And after Matt Field’s latest performance, after winning two last rounds of the season, I think he made a lot new fans and sponsors happy, keep it up, right?