Having followed the Formula DRIFT 2019 schedule very closely this year, we decided to make a trip to Texas Motor Speedway for Round 7 in Fort Worth. After watching countless live streams, it was nice to attend an event in person.
Battling the Texas heat is always an issue with any events in the late summer, so we're glad that both Pro 2 and Pro competitions started around sundown which gave us the option to sleep in late and enjoy the weekend in Dallas. The downside to evening events was the added difficulty of taking photos after sundown. You basically just have to aim for those few lit areas on track, and see what you get. I'm sure for the competitors, they needed to adjust strategy with the track temperatures and grip levels changing from the hot afternoon to the not so hot evenings.
This year's track had some slight modifications to the clipping points and zones which created a space for some extremely fast and close tandem. This recipe also yielded several accidents in Pro and Pro 2 competition. The weekend event was extremely action packed, and made sure we all got our steps in. We arrived for Pro 2 competition not realizing that they had changed the schedule that day. We thought the comp was nearing end around 8:30 pm, and wanted to just get a feel for the event layout but the comp was actually just getting started. The Pro 2 audience was a fraction of the Pro attendance numbers the next day. I assume the schedule has a lot to do with that since they run Thursday/Friay. What was great about Pro 2 was that this is the last event for their season, so the drivers were putting it all on the line. With this being their 4th event, some drivers started to show a more polished presence on track. Mr. Adam LZ and his worldwide straw hat movement showed the naysayers that he can indeed compete at the Pro level with a 2nd place finish in the competition.
The doors opened in the early afternoon for Pro's Saturday schedule. I can honestly say that most people purchased that single day ticket over a weekend pass. Not to say Pro 2 doesn't have a fan base, but I think Formula D knows they will sell more single day passes which cost almost as much as the weekend pass.
The Paddock was full of vendors, sponsors, drift celebrities, and plenty to entertain an audience between racing. We were able to meet a few competitors from the Netflix show Hyper Drive while walking the paddock, and also snagged a few autographs from our favorite Pro drivers from the Worthouse team. The Falken tire booth also collected some vital sales data on their 18-40 demographic in exchange for a lanyard which I wear with pride around the office. Achilles tires was kind enough to give us some beer sweaters, and the snow cone vendor made enough to their child through college after the scorcher of a weekend.
The Pro Top 16 battles were some of the most intense all year. The proximity between cars, lack of lights on track, and the dreaded tire wall made this one for the proverbial "books". The majority of the crowd cheered Chelsea DeNofa to a first place finish which made that champagne that much sweeter having not earned 1st podium since 2016. It's amazing seeing how much success he's had in the sport after receiving his Pro license from Lone Star Drift many moons ago. Chelsea drove the hell out of that RTR Mustang, and we're glad he put on a show for his Texan crowd.
My advice for anyone who wants to spectate this event is: Bring some cold sealed beverages, bring a backpack, make sure to apply sunscreen, wear those comfy shoes, and bring a stadium cushion. The Buc-ee's down the street was sold out of butt cushions unfortunately.
We'll be tuning in to Round 8 to see if James Deane can earn the 2019 Formula DRIFT championship to become the second individual to be a three-time champion.