One thing Top Drift is seeing this year so far, is a lot of drivers who have previously held a Formula D license, coming back to earn it again. Kelvin Arreola, who is now sponsored by GXS, who are known for their time attack Jetta in the now defunct Redline Time Attack, came out driving better than I've seen in recent memory. I'm eager to see how he does in Round 2.
Immediately after practice wrapped up, it started pouring rain, and everyone took cover under the City Tire canopy for the driver's meeting.
Top Drift judges explain what they are looking for in qualifying. From the right, former FD driver Hiro Sumida, FD driver Justin Pawlak, and FD driver Taka Aono, are typically the judges in Top Drift competition. Once in a while there will be a guest judge, but this is typically the panel. Newly licensed FD driver Carlos Cano, and seasoned FD driver Alex Pfeiffer were also in attendance.
OMGDrift's Drew Fishbein works hard to keep amateur drifting in the media.
One thing cool about Pro-Am drifting, is that you quickly get to know who really has their heart in the sport. Fredric Aasbo makes it out to as many Top Drift events as he can. It's important for pro drivers to show their support to the up and coming drivers.
Does this Mustang look familiar? Yes this is the drift car that Officer Dan chased the motorcycle hoodlums around in on that famous Icon video. The car is actually owned by Jim Guthrie, who drove the yellow supercharged V8 RX7 in FD last year, and crashed badly at Irwindale and injured his back. For reasons unknown to me, he currently doesn't hold an FD license and is competing in Top Drift to gain more experience and earn his license back. We fully support Jim. He has a pretty kick ass history in motorsports. Jim did not qualify, most likely because the car is fairly new, and wasn't setup for the rain.
Yoshie Shuyama is a former FD license holder, and is also married to Taka Aono. Both have been around since the beginning of drifting in Southern California. Yoshie can be found at Pro-Am and pro drift events even if she's not driving. Drifting runs in their blood.
John Jimison had a difficult time controlling his RX7 in the wet. John was the first driver to actually finish the course during qualifying, but was eventually pushed out of the Top 16 as qualifying went on.
Kenny Chieu is the only driver who drifts a mid engine car. He also holds numerous awards in time attack.
Orlando Gamez is back this year, even after earning an FD license last year. The rules are that a driver can participate in Pro-Am over and over even with an FD license so long as they don't actually earn points in an FD pro event. Grassroots to the max? Hardcore Pro-Am driver!
Everyone knows Masashi Motonaga. He doesn't have a cage, which is required for tandem. He cannot compete, even if he qualifies. Everyone is dying to see him tandem. Masashi is at every Top Drift event.