Last Friday, the AmDrift team headed out to Rosamond, CA for round 3 of Just Drift’s proam series, Top Drift. It gets pretty warm out in the Cali desert this time of year, so it’s great that round 3 and round 4 are held at night, which makes for a much more lively crowd and stronger running cars and drivers. The crowd, that’s what I want to talk about. I know you probably came here for drifting news, but lets take a moment to laugh at some familiar faces and the photos that get us reputations as “stalkers”, haha. You know this is going to be good.
John Jimison and Dan Brockett seem to be having some sort of conflict. It took a while to figure out what might have been the problem, but going through my photos, i figured it out. It must be because of an earlier incident.
You see, John and Dan have some sort of bromance going on. For a while it was pretty low key, but they are pretty open about it nowadays and are pretty welcoming to the camera.
That’s cool, everyone has a bromance, but John must be a little upset and praying to the bro gods to bring his Dan back to him after he was caught sharing a sexycone with Karl Osaki. Gotta watch out for that Karl guy. Oh well, we will let those guys work out their differences and get on to some drifting!
Drivers meetings are mandatory. Everything track related is discussed, from safety to judges expectations. Tonights drivers meeting was a simple “dont do this, dont do that” chat, since Friday was just practice and tune.
Friday night was open for all wanting to practice and get their cars dialed in. Walt James Stadium is a dirt oval with a very long bank that will prove to give smaller, underpowered cars a disadvantage throughout the night. Less power meant more straightening out on the banking, which resulted in shallow entry of first infield turn and drivers going off course into the dirt. Stephan Ramil, pictured above, seemed to be having a lot of issues getting his car figured out.
Trevor Dowdall took it off into the dirt while learning how to connect the awkward turns of this course.
Alex Villabrille came out strong in practice, and connected for a full run right away.
Once drivers figured out how to lightly lick the dirt and stay in the drift coming out of the banking, they were able to complete a full run and make for some exciting drifting!
John Jimison, Robin Webber, and Tyler Wolfson line up and wait for their runs.
Jim Guthrie’s crew did some minor tuning while he waited for his practice runs.
Jim came out swinging, driving his Mustang 110%, with a mixture of a few bad runs, and some GREAT runs. Opinion around the pits, is that Jim Guthrie would be a top contender during Saturday’s competition. He sure looked strong.
Even though it was just casual night, Alex Villabrille and Andy Hateley treated everyone to some tandem action.
Dedicated, die hard media dude Tyler Deal, knows what it takes to get that shot. Its great working alongside all the media guys who cover amateur drifting events. You know where their hearts are, and always know all the details about drifting. Sometimes you don’t find that in the pro drifting media world.
George Kilada wrapped up the night with some awesome runs, sticking close to the edge and getting a good feel of how to drive the layout for Saturday’s competition. We were all pretty beat, so we packed up after the last car ran, and went to our rooms down the road at the Devonshire.
On Saturday, we left our rooms a couple of hours before the track went hot at 5pm and were looking for something to do, so we stopped by the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound’s Feline Conservation Center to check out some cats! You know, we gotta mix it up a little.
“EFBC’s Feline Conservation Center, also known as the Cat House, is located in Rosamond, California. Cat lovers of all ages who discover this desert zoo/wildlife museum north of Los Angeles are surprised and amazed at the variety of wild cat species found here. We are dedicated to the protection and preservation of the world’s endangered felines. EFBC/FCC is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) institution.”
If you understand what a non profit animal organization does, you know they probably run on the edge of little to no money. The volunteers really care and give their all. We encourage everyone who visits Willow Springs Raceway, to stop by on your way in or out, or during lunch. Its a great place with some awesome animals. Check it out when you are in the area. It was a great way to spend time waiting for drifting.
Cats gotta eat, so go pay a visit and make a donation!
We arrived at the track greeted by drivers and crew getting their gear prepared for the night’s battles. Alex Villabrille’s father, Adrian, and Dan Brockett make trips to get tires swapped on wheels.
City Tire was once again on scene to provide fast and reliable tire services to all the Top Drift competitors.
Pro Driver and car builder, Mike Essa, was on hand to support customer Stephan Ramil and his V8 S14.
We love it when all the hot chicks congregate in the same area. Eric Hill’s girlfriend, Heather Thomas, and Luke Pakula’s wife, Rachel Pakula, provide eye candy for all the dudes working on cars.
Sometimes people catch us creepin’. Jason Kim installs wheels on his VQ powered S13 Hatchback, and is probably wondering if hes gonna have rubbing issues with those huge tires.
Suddenly a wild Jimison Man Wolf appears.
Photographers prepare to get some snaps during the pre-practice drivers meeting.
Its nearly impossible to get everyone together for a nice shot during any drivers meeting. Drivers are super pumped and all they wanna do is run around and chest bump each other. Charlie Ongsingco, who appears to be choking himself, does a good job of corralling them all like a herd of wild cattle just long enough to get a shot. Please excuse Jason Kim and Hung Huynh for not participating. They know no better 😛
Paul Lopez describes course layout, and where the cars need to be and how the clipping points work.
Drivers were allowed a pre-qualifying practice, at which time Anthony Urbano decided to cut the track exit short, and get stuck on frame rails.
If it werent for a couple of decent practice runs, we would say Anthony had a really bad weekend. Something was wrong with his car, and it wasnt until inspecting at home the week after the event, he discovered his steering rack was broken.
One of the most memorable tandem runs during practice, came from Jason Kim and Luke Pakula. It was at this point where the drivers really connected the course and pulled closer to each other in tandem.
Luke was a hard charger this event. George Kilada also drove super hard, but every time Luke ran chase, he was right up on their rear.
Drivers line up their cars and get ready for qualifying.
Before qualifying, Brendan Commins, whos Z32 we featured here, prepared hot dogs for everyone. Brendan and Jack Reynolds manned the grille for hours over both days of round 3.
Guest judge Mike Essa, Just Drift Charlie Ongsingco, and judges Taka Aono, Justin Pawlak, and Hiro Sumida, meet up with drivers to explain what they are looking for in qualifying.
AmDrift’s very own Jack Reynolds was offered the mic to announce the entire event, and would be the crowd’s entertainment during and between drifting.
These are the qualifying results. 22 drivers were able to pull off a good enough run to qualify.
Tyler Wolfson was top qualifier with 278 points.
Luke Pakula, 2nd highest qualifier with 271 points.
3rd highest qualifier, Eric Hill, with 269 points.
Dan Brockett qualified 4th, with 260 points.
Alex Villabrille took the 5th place qualifying spot with 254 points.
With Top 16 all set, tandem competition would begin after driver introductions. From left to right: Luke Pakula, Jason Kim, Adam Knapik, Karl Osaki, Dan Brockett, Eric Hill, Jim Guthrie, Daniel Giraldo, Shaun Doom, Jesse Vargas, Alex Villabrille, George Kilada, Andy Hateley, Tyler Wolfson, John Bathel, and John Jimison.
First up in the top 16 battle,1st place qualifier Tyler Wolfson vs 16th place qualifier Jesse Vargas. Tyler would quickly defeat Jesse on the first 2 passes. Jesse wasn’t able to maintain “proximity” and straightened out a couple of times on his follow run.
2nd place qualifier, Luke Pakula, would take down 15th place qualifier, Adam Knapik.
Adam made the judges decision an easy one by going off course.
Next up would be 3rd qualifier, Eric Hill vs 14th qualifier, John Jimison. Mike Bolanos is posing, earning him the title of “the sender of drift”.
The judges would run John and Eric one more time, and John would lose when he got lost in Eric’s smoke on the last turn, and pulled the ebrake to make the corner, which was considered a huge correction by the judges.
#4 qualifier Dan Brockett would go up against #13 qualifier George Kilada.
George and Dan would keep it amazingly close, prompting the judges to call a one more time!
Ultimately, the judges would award George with the win. Dan shouted compliments out of his car to George and applauded the competitive runs he gave him.
#5 qualifier Alex Villabrille, would face #12 qualifier, Karl Osaki. Alex has more power, with a v8 under the hood, but Karl always drives like he wants blood. It would be a decent match.
Karl and Alex ran very close to each other, and the judges couldn’t decide a winner on the first 2 runs, so they called one more time. On the next set of runs, Karl missed a shift, and drove off the track into the dirt. The judges awarded Alex the win because of Karl’s mistake.
Daniel Giraldo in his #6 qualifying AE86, would go up against #11 qualifier, Jason Kim, in his VQ powered S13 hatchback.
Jason Kim would defeat Danny, and move on to face Eric Hill in the Great 8.
Round 3’s David vs Goliath battle would come when #7 qualifier, John Bathel, was matched up with the super powerful Mustang of #10 qualifier, Jim Guthrie.
Jim Guthrie had been looking progressively strong throughout the weekend, so it was a huge upset when limited budget John Bathel drove extremely hard in his classic Toyota Supra, and forced Jim to drive hard enough to cause him to drop his rear tires into the dirt, and hit the hay bails on the last turn. John Bathel was ecstatic. John writes to me “i made what i felt was a decent mistake on my lead run, a little bobble out of the first corner, so i was like Jim has to make a big mistake”. He goes on to say “that was an amazing feeling. i was just so stoked to be in the top 16”.
The last battle of Top 16 would be #8 Shaun Doom, against #9 Andy Hateley.
Andy straightened out while following Shaun on the first run, and on the second run, Shaun dropped a tire off track. The judges were undecided, so they called one more time. On the OMT, Shaun Doom spun out on his lead run, causing Andy to come to a complete stop behind him. Judges immediately awarded Andy the win.
Going from Top 16 into Great 8, staff had a chance to take a quick break. Well known proam/pro drifter Carlos Cano, and Daigo Saito crew member, Hung Huynh have a chat on the tailgate of the support truck, while Paul Lopez looks a little lonely.
Tyler Wolfson would line up against Andy Hateley in the Great 8.
Andy would defeat Tyler, and move on to the final 4.
George Kilada and Alex Villabrille would have it out in the Great 8.
Alex couldn’t shake George off his tail, and George moves on to the Final 4.
John Bathel, who considered going this far an accomplishment in itself, was lined up against experienced hard charger Luke Pakula.
John knew he had to go big to beat Luke Pakula, so he drove fast and dropped 2 tires in the dirt, came back on track, and spun. Win went to Luke Pakula.
Eric Hill and Jason Kim were set to battle each other, but Eric broke some driveline parts during his warmup burnout, and was unable to move his car.
Jason Kim quickly jumped out of his car to assist Eric Hill. Eric called 5 minutes to repair his vehicle, ran out of time, and Jason gave him his 5 minutes. The sportsmanship in this amateur series is overwhelming. Unfortunately, Eric was unable to repair in time, so Jason moved on to face Luke Pakula in the Final 4.
Next up would be George Kilada against Andy Hateley. The defeated driver of this match up would go on to drive for 3rd place.
From what I witnessed, George Kilada got a little wobbly on his follow runs, but it didn’t seem like enough to make a difference in judging. The judges gave Andy the win, which was followed by Kilada fans disapproving in the stands. Andy would go on to drive for 1st place podium, and George would move on to battle for 3rd place.
The battle for 2nd place took place between Luke Pakula and Jason Kim.
Luke walked away from Jason with his higher power to weight ratio AE86. Jason wasn’t able to keep pace Luke, which resulted in shallower angles as a result of playing catch up, and the judges awarded Luke the win.
George Kilada and Jason Kim would battle it out for 3rd place podium.
The judges ran George and Jason one more time, and decided that Jason’s runs were more consistent and steady, so they awarded Jason with 3rd place and George took 4th.
The last exciting battle would be for 1st place. Luke Pakula would drive against Andy Hateley. Both drivers were on fire, so it would be a high speed and technical battle.
Andy was very consistent all night, but Luke was on the same set of tires he used for qualifying. The lack of grip caused him to spin out on the first turn, and Andy was awarded first place.
Andy Hateley had taken 1st place podium in Top Drift Round 3!
George Kilada (4th), Jason Kim (3rd), Luke Pakula (2nd), and Andy Hateley (1st) are your 2012 Top Drift Round 3 final 4 competitors and podium.
A victory drink of champagne for podium finishers.
A regular Top Drift tradition, Dan Brockett poses with a sexycone at the end of every round.
Here are the Top Drift standings after Round 3.
COME OUT TO ROUND 4, AUGUST 17-18!!!
We stayed for the drift clinic on Sunday. Joon Maeng and his buddies from Road Race Engineering brought out their shop car to do some schooling. Joon wanted to get the guys some seat time so everybody on his Formula Drift team would have a full understanding of how drifting works. Unfortunately the windshield busted before we could get there. We also ran into Jeff Jones testing his S14.
Joon Maeng giving his crew chief, Lod, some drift instruction.
Lod hooking it up with Joon in the passenger seat.
Jeff Jones, so baller that his air filter flies off.
Joons team member, Art Thavilyati, speeding along the banking at full lock.
Of course, Joon took it out for a spin too.
AmDrift’s very own, and Joon’s team member Jack Reynolds in a high speed drift on the bank. Its been a while since Jack drifted, so it was pretty cool seeing him jump in a car and drift it first time around the track. Joon thinks so too!
Time to wrap up this article with a photo of Just Drift Instructor, Charlie Ongsingco driving a borrowed S13.
Check out the gallery below for a full weekend’s worth of photos from Top Drift Round 3 weekend! Save, share, post! Enjoy!