Article and Photography by Eric Gearhart.
Nestled in the countryside just thirty miles northeast of Seattle lies Monroe, Washington. Contrary to the quiet and calm stereotype of the Pacific Northwest, Monroe isn’t your average town—pretty much exactly the opposite. Despite its misleading, quiet facade, Monroe is the home of world-famous "crash what you brung” events. Imagine a figure eight demolition derby . . . with boats in tow. Yes, boats. That’s the style of event that has made this place famous. So, it’s no wonder that Monroe’s Evergreen Speedway was chosen as the sight for Formula Drift’s fifth round of their Pro series.
With such a rich history, there’s no cause for concern when the population instantly doubles and thousands of rowdy drift fans show up in droves. They’ve come to watch drivers from across the world compete and send plumes of smoke through the wooded valley surrounding the venue.
Formerly a horse track built in 1954, Evergreen Speedway has a 5/8ths outer bank, allowing initiation speeds of over 80 mph. The long, banked drift turns up through power alley and into a final S shape, where competitors kiss the wall leading to the finish.
Round Five of Formula Drift is where championships can be won and lost. Generally speaking, there’s quite a substantial point spread, and if the past few years have told us anything, it can be either a breaking point or push the leaders that much further into the lead. Daigo Saito, 2012 FD Champion, walked into this round in first place, with a 60-point lead over Vaughn Gitten Jr. and Mike Essa in third place. With his first qualifying run on a cool track, Daigo hit the outer bank wall during his exit, inflicting substantial damage to his Lexus SC430. After a "quick fix,” he was back in action.
Daigo’s second run moved him into the Top 32, but he was quickly knocked out by Toshiki Yoshioka, which created an opportunity for Gitten Jr. to take the lead.
After reaching the Sweet 16, Gittin Jr. beat out local hometown favorite Chris Jeanneret and his LS6-powered Nissan 240SX.
But Gittin Jr.’s reign would end in the Great 8 against Odi Bakchis.
With the loss of the top two series point leaders, it was anyone’s game. Who stepped up to the challenge in the Final Four? Mike Essa vs. Odi Bakchis and Frederic Aasbo vs. Chris Forsberg.
Bakchis put up an epic fight, but in the end Essa moved on to the final battle.
Chris Forsberg walked away with the win after a snapped suspension put Aasbo out of commission and unable to complete his second run. Forsberg and Essa then advanced to the final race.
Frederic Aasbo took the win over Odi Bakchis in the consolation round, securing his position on the podium.
Formula Drift Evergreen 2013 Title Fight Forsberg vs. Essa
Forsberg won over Essa for his third podium finish this season!
Formula Drift Round 5 Evergreen Results
Image courtesy of http://www.FormulaD.com
Formula Drift 2013 Pro Standings Top 10
1. Forsberg, 388
2. Essa, 386.5
3. Saito, 385
4. Gittin, 367
5. Aasbo, 354.5
6. Pawlak, 345.5
7. McNamara, 332.5
8. Bakchis, 294
9. Field, 261
10. Nishida, 253
With the big battles out of the way on Saturday, a lot of people miss out on the other 20 cars that never see the track in the top 32.
2009 Pro Drift Champion Dean Kearney and his V-LED Dodge Viper
Alex Lee in his SerialNine 2001 GS400
Forest Wang 1995 Get Nuts Labs Nissan 240SX
Gabe Stone 1994 Blu808 BMW E36
Formula Drift Slammed Society Evergreen Show
Formula Drift isn’t just about proximity and shredding tires. There’s also the fan participation element, and every Formula Drift event includes show cars from all across the state.
Think you’ve got what it takes? Apply at FormulaD.com for your chance to hang out at one of the seven locations along the FD circuit to showcase your ride!
A Photographer’s Formula Drift Pit Memoir
Formula Drift was one of the first events I attended back in 2006, and it just so happened that it was the first year of FD in Monroe. Since 2007, I’ve been trackside, shooting photos for various companies and drivers. There’s nothing like the smell of race gas and burning rubber on hot tarmac!
What I enjoy most about Formula Drift is the approachability of the drivers and the freedom you have to walk around and see the cars! If you’ve never been to an FD event, let’s take a quick tour.
After standing trackside most of the morning with other avid fans, it’s time to hit the pits.
With camera in hand, it’s time to embark on your journey . . . low and behold, here’s an old 240 just sitting in the middle of some spectators. Quick, see if the keys are in it!
It seems like drift cars litter spectator/vendor row. Some even have a little bit of character to them.
Since finding drift cars seems to be easy, maybe it’s time to search out the models! Love those umbrella girls! I guess there’s a possibility of rain showers every day in Washington.
When it comes to models, Hankook never disappoints.
Distracted by the models, you turn around and suddenly you’re attacked by the Hankook tire shark! Luckily, he only stole your shirt, while you escaped with your life and camera . . . Whew! . . . That was close!
Well, now that a shark ate your shirt, you feel half-naked and grab a couple of "Hero Cards” to cover up . . . but you’re caught by Toshiki Yoshioka. Might as well get your pic with him, right?
Down on your luck, you stroll up to a large gathering outside the Falken booth! Free T-shirts are being tossed out by Justin Pawlak and a few models. Just your luck!
What better way to celebrate your new T-shirt than with autographs from Kyle Mohan and others, right?
2011 Formula Drift Champion Dijiro Yoshihara . . . definitely need to add that to the collection.
Of course you need to brag to all your Facebook friends and take a "selfie” with Chris Forsberg.
Wandering through the pits and getting more cool, free stuff, like lanyards, hats, key chains, and autographs, you hit the mother lode of souvenirs—free tires! Okay, so there’s no tread left . . . but, hey, free is free.
After hording a collection of tires, it’s off to the autograph session in progress. Time to collect those signatures.
Hey, Vaughn , can you make it out to "eBay,” please! Kidding, just kidding . . .
Not impressed by your witty humor, Vaughn Gitten Jr. rips off your autographed sleeves. But, hey, it’s all good, and the Monster models sign your tires!
With all the ups and downs of the day, you decided just to walk around and maybe find the girl of your dreams covered in grease and up to her elbows in a Lexus GS400. Hey, it could happen, right?
The rest of the day would be spent arm in arm, checking out cars.
And drifting into the night . . .
After the most amazing day at Formula Drift, you would stumble across a BBQ hosted by none other than Danny George. But wait. "Who is Danny George?”
This is a fictitious story. No sharks were harmed, and no sleeves were ruined in the process. Hope you enjoyed your tour of a day at Formula Drift. Look forward to seeing you at the next one!