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Mustang, Supra and Corvette on the Podium at Formula Drift Round 4 in Erie, PA

Formula Drift is going to celebrate its 20th anniversary soon! I still remember following the series for the first time, circa 2009, when I was committed to becoming involved in the professional drift scene. For years in a row, I would follow all of the event live streams, watching the drivers and the sport grow exponentially as time went by.
Ford Mustang Wins Formula Drift 50 photos
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So naturally, I felt like checking back on the series, as for the past few years I've sort of distanced myself from professional drifting. But the sport has grown immensely, as it is now FIA certified, among other things. But you can just have a look at the live stream and event pictures, and compare them to what was going on 10 years ago, and the progress is instantly visible.

Well, FD was already at the highest level at that time too, but the cars you get to see in the paddocks today are mind-blowing, to say the least. We're going into the story halfway through the 2021 season, but we're going to keep you updated with all things Formula Drift from today onwards. So far this year, the drivers have been to Atlanta in Georgia, Orlando in Florida, and Englishtown in New Jersey.

Aurimas Bakchis won Round 1, with Matt Field and Vaughn Gittin JR in 2nd and 3rd overall. Chelsea Denofa then won Round 2, with Fredric Aasbo and Justin Pawlak completing the podium. Matt Field seems to be on a roll this year, as he won Round 3, with Chris Forsberg and Fredric Aasbo following up. I can still remember a time when Matt was a rookie in Formula Drift, so I'm really happy to see that he's gone so far up the ladder!

This would mark the first time Formula Drift is present at Lake Erie Speedway. The 3/8-mile oval track was already popular with local drivers, but a novelty for the Pro competitors. The course layout was designed to ensure some high-speed action and physics-defying proximity. This way, the large crowd would have every reason to be happy for attending, and the live stream broadcast would keep the fans on the edge of their seats.

Qualifying on Friday wasn't easy at all due to the rain, but Adam LZ took 1st place in his 2JZ-powered Nissan S15. I just love it when a Youtuber is good behind the wheel and not all talk! Fredric Aasbo is still going strong after more than a decade of drifting, and he claimed 2nd in his Toyota GR Supra. The last time Fredric won the championship was in 2015, so I guess he's pretty eager to pull it off again this year.

Third place went to Michael Essa, and I can never forget how amazing his V10-swapped BMW E92 was like 10 years ago! He's still driving a BMW today, albeit an E46 model. I was shocked to see that Justin Pawlak had suffered an engine failure and had to withdraw from the race. But what came as an even bigger surprise was the fact that Daijiro Yoshihara had only qualified in 29th, his worst qualifying result since he entered the series in 2004.

What I like most about drifting is that anything can happen at any time. It's anyone's game, and you'll rarely see someone dominating the season like we often see in Formula 1. Well, Daigo Saito did that a few years ago, but his level has always been considered to be god-like. Saturday was race day for Round 4 of Formula Drift, and the drivers would have to go through the Top32 gauntlet to pave their way to the podium.

Chelsea Denofa, Vaughn Gittin JR, Fredric Aasbo, and Matt Field were the ones to push through to the Top4, so two Mustangs, a Corvette, and a Supra fighting for the top spot. Matt Field had a pre-race incident, damaging his car, but managed to fix it in time for the race. Still, Chelsea Denofa didn't go soft on him, and Matt eventually cracked under pressure.

The battle between Gittin JR and Aasbo was going to an intense one, as they've had many encounters previously, but this time it would be the Norwegian Hammer to advance the grand final. Aasbo damaged his rear suspension and didn't have enough time to finish repairs, so Chelsea DeNofa claimed victory at round 4, putting him in a close 2nd place in the championship rankings, just behind Matt Field, who finished 3rd at Lake Erie.

I've left you with links to both the qualifying session and the Top16 and Final battles so that you may see the action with your own eyes. Round 5 of Formula Drift will be held in Monroe, Washington, on the 30th and 31st of July, and St. Louis, Missouri will be next, about a month after that.

 
 
 
 
 

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