Formula D Texas: Behind the Lens
The road to FD Texas should have begun at 4:30 in the morning in a little town called Moorpark, just north of Los Angeles. Instead, it began at midnight in a flurry of chaotic emotions. My flight was booked on Spirit Airlines which ironically enough, I felt the intuition to check and see which terminal I had to be at. Trusty Google pulled up Yelp and its reviews of this unknown (in my book) airline to my absolute horror had an astonishing average of 1.5 stars with a little over 300 reviews. Apparently, charging about $100 per carry on bag was acceptable and I was headed there in 6 hours with THREE bags. Immediately, I sprung into action, calling other photographers I knew who were awake in the ungodly hour of the night asking their opinions, because not going to Texas, was definitely not an option. My first brainstorm with my friend Jofel; pack everything into one giant bag. Brilliant! However, it was dancing on the weight limit. Forget it! That was the plan.
Something still didn't feel right, so I decided to call Martin, he did after all say in his follow up email I could get hold of him anytime, so that was taken up at 1:33 in the morning. We came up with the plan that Jeff and Justin would split my bags with me and take one each on their flight to Texas and I would pick the bags up from them later. I decided it was best to keep my photo arsenal with me on my flight. The trick was meeting for the exchange and without hesitation; I knew I had to drive down to Gardena to the MotoIQ office to drop them off before heading over to LAX. My poor car's gas gauge was dancing merrily just above the complete EMPTY line, so I had to quickly fill up, buy a double shot of espresso and hurry down to LA. Getting on the freeway, there was some road work about half a mile in front of me with cones dividing the two lane highway. Confused and flustered, I followed a speeding car into the left side which actually turned out to be a CHP. He immediately pulled himself and me over asking why I was driving on the wrong side of the road as well as a sobriety test, since most drunks tend to drive incorrectly. I passed the finger movement test and proceeded to explain what I have just told you within 6 seconds. He let me go right after I kindly requested he google the Drift Bunny and watch out for this very coverage.
Off I went into the depths of SoCal until I reached the main aorta of Los Angeles; Downtown LA. Maybe because it has been cooling off, or perhaps there was a slight sea breeze, the buildings and city itself just felt as awake as I was and glowed crisp and clear. Finally at MotoIQ, Jeff and Martin were already awake and greeted me with a “You owe me big time!” So now here I am, watching Dexter, eating crackers and writing this first leg of my pink adventures waiting till I have to drive over to LAX to fly on the dreadful airline to Dallas where I'll meet another photography friend and head out to the track.
After leaving Gardena at 5AM I made it to the airport and parking in about 15 minutes. Those reviews on Yelp weren't lying! It actually costs $100 for carry on luggage and increases after that of about $50. I am so thankful to Martin and Jeff for waking up so early and helping me out with my other bag. Some other photographers are somewhere in this congested airport getting ready to journey to the Lone Star state also. Certainly not feeling like the Drift Bunny whatsoever; TSA lost my flower head band! Regardless of these crazy hurdles that always seem to pop up while traveling, I'm looking forward to stepping on the controversial track and capturing some monsters slaying some tires.
Right before flying into Fort Worth/Dallas, we flew right over Texas Motor Speedway and I was completely shocked to see the how incredibly humongous the entire stadium was. There were a few passengers on my flight that were also on their way to Formula D this weekend; this weekend is going to be epic.
Shortly after arriving I meet up with my friend Josh and we take off towards the track and hotel. After driving about 20 minutes from the airport, we came upon a hill that boasted a view of the huge speedway. It felt like when I saw Talladega a few years back on the way to Formula D Atlanta, just massive and almost like wallpaper blanketing the landscape. The day was such a mission to get to Texas as it was just about painful to get off the comfy bed and pillows I submerged my face into for late lunch. One happy hour margarita and vegetable burrito later I was in a fully self induced food coma and later found myself sound asleep. Later in the evening Josh came across a Pro Am driver in the parking lot of the hotel with his wife helping him with light cosmetic work on his S13. His name is Nick, and he is from Little Rock Arkansas, first time ever competing in such a grand speedway. Right away, I just had to know what he thought of the controversial track and to my surprise the bright eyed rookie loved it.
“I like this course, pretty much you have to get to the point where you like every course, and otherwise I don’t know how you can drive all day hating the course you’re driving… Here it's race car levels of grip and also race car problems, like going off track, and hitting pot holes, and breaking parts.
While Nick and I were chatting, his wife Lindsey was starting to prep a small area of the bumper to write “TOW” when I noticed she had such a cute belly; she is 27 weeks pregnant. They continued to tell me stories about how much they endure just getting to events, everything from their tow truck breaking down every event, to sleeping on the side of the road, and even taking off the license plates and driving 90 mph under the cloak of midnight to barely make qualifying with 15 minutes to spare.
“I like that this course is so close to fans, I’ve never been to a Formula D event before, this is my first Formula D event, it’s really exciting and the cars are insane! I just love how you can see everything all the way from initiation to the very last corner; every fan has a good look. The only thing I wouldn’t like about this course as a competitor would be the last two corners, because even though some of those cars (Pro) have triple the horse power our cars have, they also have triple the tire, and so much grip that if the guy in front of you makes a mistake initiating, or his very first transition through the S-section, then the person chasing just kind of gets stuck, unless you have a stupid amount of power, then you can’t make up for your loss. If I’m following someone and I’m only a car away from them going in they have to come out for any reason then I’m going to straighten up or I’m going to hit them.”