What’s better than being a spectator at a drift event? Right now I’d say being media, and that’s because I haven’t gotten to drive at an event. Top Drift Round 3 was my first event shooting as media, and it was awesome! Despite the heat, it was definitely a great experience all around. Being a fan of drifting for around 9 years, being a spectator just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I almost instantly fell in love with the sideways dance they call drifting. I had to be in it, surrounded by it, and here was my chance to show that I belonged.
As a newbie photographer, my portfolio isn’t all that big, but that’s mainly because I tend to focus on getting better at shooting drifting. It could also do with the fact that I just started shooting this year. Seeing guys like David Karey, Drew Fishbein, and the widely known Larry Chen produce these awesome photos, blew my mind and made me want to do the same. I want to be comparable to the best, so I’m going all out. In a sense, I’m trying to get my feet wet by jumping into the deep end of the pool. What better way to jump into the deep end than by coming to Top Drift, getting out of my comfort zone, and pushing my limits in the field?
The first thing I noticed when we got to the track was that it was blazing hot, and rightfully so. The series takes place at Willow Springs; if you’ve never been there and couldn’t tell from the photos, it’s in the desert. I felt bad for anyone who had to drive, and especially bad for George Kirakopoulos who happens to drive an all-black S13. Not the most ideal for drifting in 100 degree weather. But these drivers coped with it enough to show up and drive for 2 days. I thought it was bad enough being out there for just one!
The next thing is that this is absolutely nothing like the big stage that is Formula Drift. It would be almost ideal for all of those “purists” who hate the progression of Formula Drift competition. The fabrication work done to the FD cars is crazy compared to these Pro-Am cars, and walking through the paddock at Top Drift you’d be hard pressed to find a completely cut up and tubed chassis. The cars don’t sport wild and crazy colored liveries nor have sponsor decals all over the place. However, one thing that won’t appease the “purists” are the growing number of LS motors used. But other than that, it’s still your grassroots level scene.
Even though it’s a Pro-Am series, most of these guys are doing it to one day compete in FD. That means that they are more likely to use the most loved and hated motor in drifting: the LS motor. Now I say most guys, because in a short conversation with driver Joe Tardiff, he told me that he just does it for fun. He’s not necessarily out there to win (even though that would be awesome) but he’s out there to bang doors and shred tires with friends. Good vibes all around. Isn’t that what we’re all in it for though?
I felt right at home in the Pro-Am scene. I love the chill nature of drifting, but I also love competition, and here you have the perfect mixture of both. Business behind the wheel, but it’s all for fun. Here you have drivers who were out here trying to hone their skills, and there I was doing the same behind the lens. They say that the only way to get better is to practice, right? So as I’m trying to figure out how to make these guys and girl(s) look good behind the wheel, the drivers are trying to figure out the course while not losing drift, spinning out, or going off track. It was just a great atmosphere for me to be in I think, and from what I’ve heard, the practice is definitely paying off! It definitely is for the drivers.
Well I’m going to wrap it up here and throw in some additional images for you to look at. All in all it was a great experience, and I definitely can’t wait to be out here again for the next round and for the seasons to come! I want to take this time to give out some thanks. Thank you to David Karey for giving me a shot and letting me do this post for everyone to see. Thank you to my friends who encourage me and push me to be better. Thank you to everyone at Just Drift, you guys rock!