As the sun started its angle of descent on the western sky and the clock hit 4 o’clock, drivers and cars started their violent roll on the speedway to warm their tires. This was the start of the much talked about duel. This was the Round of 32, where elimination meant no chance at the final glory, the Championship Title of Irwindale, where Formula Drift got its start. And as fast as it started, it ended for a few teams. Besides the chunks or whole of bumpers, transmission fluid started to leak, engine even caught on fire as Car #35, a 2004 Subaru WRX STi piloted by Eric O’Suvllivan rolled into the pit area with more than injured pride. For Team Need For Speed, both Car #665 by Matt Powers and Car #111 of “Mad” Mike Whidett came unscathed to the Top 16. Intermission time hit around 6 pm with all teams, qualified or not, retreated to their respective tents, where each hosted mini-events, from give-a-ways, video gaming lounge (in the case of Team NFS), or simple meet-&-greet between drivers and fans.
However, like everything else in the Formula Drift circuit, the clock ticked by at double speed. Soon, it was the prologue to the main event, the parade of teams, where each car and their cheerleading squad circled in front of the main arena. Matt Powers with his “Mattley Crew” in full glam rock outfits and “Mad” Mike Whidett with the 3 beauties of Team NFS. On the racetrack, as the same in life, competition comes from least expected sources. On Saturday night, Whidett and Powers found the old saying to be true. On the round of 16, Whidett found himself against one other Red Bull sponsored car, #6 Hyundai Genesis Coupe raced by Rhys Millen, currently ranked 7 in the world. Despite his best effort, Whidett barely missed the mark and was unfortunately eliminated. Powers was more fortunate, gone to the Great 8 Round before a match up of what some would called “happy coincidence” with Team NFS consultant and current number 1 driver, Vaughn Gittin Jr. and his 2011 Ford Mustang. Simply couldn’t out muscled the black and white brute, Powers ended the 2010 season on a rather high note actually. The reason been that this was the first full season on Formula Drift for both Whidett and Powers. With the experience and skills gained during the last 6 months, plus the support of their crews and Team Need For Speed, both men are due back to compete next April with a well prepared mindset.
Formula Drift Round 7 – Irwindale
First Place: Tanner Foust (2009 Scion tC RWD)
Second Place: Vaughn Gittin Jr. (2011 Ford Mustang)
Third Place: Michihiro Takatori (1999 Nissan S15)