Top Drift Round 1 – March 29, 2015


The 2015 Top Drift season presented by Megan Racing is officially underway! Just Drift wrapped up Round 1 of their Formula Drift licensing series this past weekend at Willow Springs International Raceway. 63 drivers registered for the controlled mayhem, accompanied by friends, family, and a whole lot of spectators. The tiny Balcony circuit just above the “Omega” of Big Willow was absolutely jam packed, common for the first competition event of the Just Drift season. With every passing year, the event keeps growing and growing.


DKAR-147Top Drift is judged by experienced Formula Drift drivers Taka Aono, Hiro Sumida, Justin Pawlak, and sometimes a guest judge. With Justin unable to attend Top Drift Round 1, Ryan Litteral brought his expertise and judging style to the table, throwing a little variety and fun into the norm that the regular Just Drift drivers have grown accustomed to.


DKAR-5349After what seemed to be a full and long day of practice and qualifying, drivers and spectators gathered to learn who would be competing in Top 16. Qualifying result meetings are often the most social time of the event, and the most stressful and joyous time of the event for drivers.


DKAR-5362The Top 16 competitors had been decided. Qualifying results: 1. Jason Kim, 2. Adam Knapik, 3. Kenny Chieu, 4. Eric Hill, 5. Christopher Hillis, 6. Aaron Sly, 7. Chris Jones, 8. Daniel Giraldo, 9. Trent Beechum, 10. Brandon Contreras, 11. Joe Tardiff, 12. Tim Cobb, 13. Nathan Tuchlinski, 14. Blake Olsen, 15. Kevin Armijo, 16. Doug English.


Top 16 competition bracket
Jason Kim vs Doug English
Daniel Giraldo vs Trent Bechum
Eric Hill vs Nathan Tuchlinski
Christopher Hillis vs Tim Cobb
Adam Knapik vs Kevin Armijo
Chris Jones vs Brandon Contreras
Kenny Chieu vs Blake Olsen
Aaron Sly vs Joe Tardiff


TOP 16


Jason Kim vs Doug English
DKAR-226Jason Kim leading, he creates a gap between him and Dough English mid course all the way to the finish. Dough English leading, Jason Kim is all over him. Jason Kim gets the win.


Daniel Giraldo vs Trent Beechum
DKAR-233Daniel Giraldo leads, carrying a lot of speed on entry with a small gap between him and Trent Beechum. Beechum closes the gap and gets really close to Giraldo the rest of the run. Beechum leads, but Giraldo spins out behind him before the second turn. Beechum continues to navigate the course, but himself spins out before the green brick house. Judges call One More Time.


Daniel Giraldo vs Trent Beechum OMT #1
DKAR-237Once again Giraldo leads with a small gap on entry, and Beechum closes it quick and drives super close the rest of the run. Beechum takes his lead, and Giraldo seems to have trouble following from the start and is off line a little. Beechum creates a gap and finishes far ahead of Giraldo. Judges something we didnt, and call One More Time.


Daniel Giraldo vs Trent Beechum OMT #2
DKAR-245Daniel Giraldo taking lead on this pair’s third run, he spins out after the second turn and Beechum reacts to avoid collision. Beechum takes lead and bobbles out of the entry, Giraldo catches up and drives an exceptional follow line through the finish. Judges call another One More Time.


Eric Hill vs Nathan Tuchlinski
DKAR-252While Giraldo and Beechum replenish tires in the pits, Eric Hill takes lead with high speed on entry, Nathan Tuchlinski far behind. Hill dips in the dirt on the second turn, Tuchlinski catches up and closes the gap, and both cross the finish. Nathan Tuchlinski leads, both drivers driving a great line, but Eric has a better follow line than Tuchlinski’s follow, and judges give Eric Hill the win.


Christopher Hillis vs Tim Cobb
DKAR-254Still waiting for Giraldo and Beechum, Christopher Hillis and Tim Cobb take their turn at battling. Hillis leads, dirt dropping on entry and making a clean run with Cobb keeping up and crossing the finish line side by side. Cobb leads and drives similar to Hillis’ lead, but Hillis drives a slightly bettwe follow line. Judges give Hillis the win.


Daniel Giraldo vs Trent Bechum OMT #3
IMG_1719Coming back out for their THIRD One More Time, Giraldo leads, but spins after entry. Beechum leads, but Giraldo spins again at the second turn. Trent Beechum gets the win.


Adam Knapik vs Kevin Armijo
DKAR-257Adam Knapik leads first, entering with lots of speed and tons of angle, but Kevin Armijo keeps his TRUCK close with a very small gap and finishes right behind Knapik, surprising and pleasing both the judges and the spectators. Armijo leads, great entry with lots of angle, but spins at second turn. Knapik gets the win.


Chris Jones vs Brandon Contreras
IMG_1792Chris Jones leads and spins at the second turn. Contreras is seen understeering before Jones’ spin. Contreras leads, Jones has an OK follow but falls behind before the green house. Brandon Contreras gets the win.


Kenny Chieu vs Blake Olsen
IMG_1814Kenny Chieu leads, dirt drops at the second turn, straightens along the wall, Blake Olsen stops drifting to avoid collision. Olsen leads with an awesome run, Kenny straightening after the second turn while following. Blake Olsen walks away with a ton of tire smoke. Blake Olsen gets the win.


Aaron Sly vs Joe Tardiff
IMG_1822Aaron Sly leads, both drivers making good runs, Joe Tardiff killing the follow game. Tardiff takes lead, Sly comes out of the entry a little too hard and hits Tardiff from behind coming into the second turn. Tardiff bobbles, continues drifting, taps the wall by the green house and rips rear bumper halfway off. Both drivers finish, but Aaron Sly is leaking coolant. Joe Tardiff gets the win.




Jason Kim vs Trent Beechum
DKAR-266Jason Kim takes lead, both driving well until Beechum makes a big correction and straightens around the house on follow. Beechum takes his lead and runs great, but spins right before the green house. Jason Kim stops to avoid a crash, and gets the win.


Eric Hill vs Christopher Hillis
DKAR-267Eric Hill leading, he enters very fast and creates a gap between him and Christopher Hillis. Hillis attempts to close the gap the rest of the run. Hillis takes his lead run, tapping the wall by the green house and making himself bobble while still maintaining drift. Hill gets close and both finish. Judges call One More Time.


Eric Hill vs Christopher Hillis OMT
DKAR-270Eric Hill leads right on the egde of the track the entire run with Hillis slightly behind him the entire way. Hillis leads, Hill right behind him the entire time, getting closer at the exit. Eric Hill gets the win.


Adam Knapik vs Brandon Contreras
IMG_1878Adam Knapik leads, Brandon Contreras drives hard to catch up, but straightens after second turn. Knapik has a nice lead run until the finish where he taps a cone and removes his bumper. Contreras leads, dirt drops and straightens coming out of the second turn. The judges say Knapik made and error somewhere on the follow, and call for One More Time.


Adam Knapik vs Brandon Contreras OMT
DKAR-274Knapik leads and enters with crazy angle, Contreras allowing a small gap but keeping up. Contreras falls behind on second turn while Knapik rockets even further ahead with tons of angle and smoke through the rest of the course. Contreras leads but is immediately off line and straightens, while Knapik following close the remainder of the course. Adam Knapik gets the win.


Joe Tardiff vs Blake Olsen
IMG_1911Joe Tardiff leads with a small gap, Blake Olsen keeps it close with a good follow run. Olsen leads, messes up on entry, goes too deep on the second turn, but is super close to the wall around the green house. Tardiff drive off line and straightens while Olsen rides the wall in front of the spectators. Judges call One More Time.


Joe Tardiff vs Blake Olsen OMT
DKAR-281Tardiff good entry on his lead, but Olsen is right on his butt the entire run. Olsen leads, bobbles at entry and takes out some cones. Olsen comes into the second turn and slides to a stop. Joe Tardiff stops to avoid, while Olsen takes off and finishes. Joe Tardiff gets the win.




Jason Kim vs Eric Hill
DKAR-285Jason Kim leads fast on entry, Eric Hill closing the gap super early before the second turn. Kim straighten and slows on second turn, both drivers continue through the finish. Eric Hill takes the lead and is much faster than Kim through the entire course. Hill taps the wall, halfway ripping off his bumper. Eric Hill gets the win.


Adam Knapik vs Joe Tardiff
DKAR-287Adam Knapik takes lead and pulls off an insane backwards entry, and Joe Tardiff suffers mechanical failure in the form of broken steering parts and stops his car. Knapik finishes his lead run, throwing tons of angle through every single turn. Tardiff calls 5 minutes, but it is shortly learned that he cannot repair the damage in time. Adam Knapik gets the win.




Jason Kim vs Joe Tardiff
DKAR-1Joe Tardiff not able to run, Jason Kim gets 3rd.




Adam Knapik vs Eric Hill
DKAR-289Adam Knapik leading, Eric Hill has trouble following through the second turn. Knapik finishes the run, throwing lots of angle along the spectator wall. Hill takes his lead, Knapik throws a ton of entertaining angle BEHIND Hill on the follow. Hill is super close to all the cones and walls the rest of the run, and both drivers finish within feet of each other. On to the podium for the results!




DKAR-296Joe Tardiff is the recipient of the Best Tandem Battle of the Day award, presented by KoyoRad.


DKAR-302Jason Kim takes 3rd place at Top Drift Round 1! After much discussion and consideration between the judges, Eric Hill takes 2nd place, and Adam Knapik is the 1st place winner of Top Drift Round 1!


DKAR-294Top Drift Round 1 was an exciting event. Sharing a common interest with a huge crowd of friends and witnessing some of the best drifting we’ve ever seen on the Balcony circuit, was the best way to spend a Sunday in Spring.


Join us for the rest of the Just Drift/Top Drift season! See you there!




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