Southwest Drift Series Round 3 – May 30, 2015

It’s been a while since we’ve been to a Vegas Drift event in the parking lot of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The last time we hooked up with Vegas Drift for an event that wasn’t on the outside road course, or Phoenix, was when we rolled out for Vegas ProAm Round 3 back in 2012. Needless to say, we were pretty excited to revisit the old school venue that we haven’t seen for a very long time.


DKAR-5Bummed that we missed the Southwest Drift Series Round 2 while attending the Grand Prix of Long Beach, catching up with our buddies was the first thing on the to do list for the Southwest Drift Series Round 3 this past weekend on Saturday May 30, 2015. Coming into round 3, Tony Cisneros was leading the series in points, and several budding drivers were nipping at his heals for the #1 spot. Ethan Hunter, Joe Tardiff, and Blake Olsen are just a few of those hungry drivers looking to move up, so we were excited to see how round 3 would play out.


DKAR-15The very first round of every series is usually the most attended, so being round 3 right smack in the middle of the season with a forecast of a high of 105 degrees and the points leaders running away in the hundreds, driver attendance wasn’t quite what it should have been. But, don’t assume the drivers who showed up couldn’t put on a show, because they did, and it was an exciting round full of surprises and great driving.


DKAR-190Vegas Drift drivers are really quite lucky, having some of the best judges that ProAm could offer. Odi Bakchis is leading Formula Drift in points, having podiumed in 2nd place in Long Beach and 1st place in Atlanta. Forrest Wang is a consistent high point qualifier with a refined style that is near impossible to mimic. Tommy Suell is a veteran of the series, and puts in long hours of volunteer work to help drivers improve and enjoy the sport of drifting. Together, these 3 individuals make one of the fairest, most helpful and educational, and most productive judging panels in Formula Drift ProAm.


DKAR-172The course layout for this round was simple. Drivers would run up to the entry between 60 and 80 miles per hour, flick it into drift along a wall, turn left with the back end of the car against another wall called the “outer zone”, keep turning left around clipping point number one sweeper, transition into a right hand sweeper around clipping point number two, and slide all the way out through the finish line.


DKAR-229The first surprising event came during the very first run of the day, in the very first session of the day. During the driver’s meeting, Forrest Wang noted that the track was very loose and sketchy during a test run in his daily S14, and that drivers should take it easy until the surface was broken in. He wasn’t kidding, as Mike Burns of Arizona went out for his first run and promptly lost control and backed into the outer zone wall right after entry, wadding up his pretty blueish-green S13. His team and track friends immediately went to work, fixing the chassis good enough for him to get back out there and make some runs. Dedication like this is what we like to see.


DKAR-239Practice ended right on cue with the sunset. One of the fondest memories of drifting in this parking lot, comes from Formula Drift when the series used to run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Countless photos and video clips have been taken of the gorgeous sunset at this very spot. Here’s something for nostalgia.


DKAR-244After all drivers had taken their qualifying runs, Ethan Hunter stood up top as the highest qualifier of round 3 with 20 points, followed by second place qualifier, Joe Tardiff, and Tony Cisneros right behind in 3rd.


DKAR-276Qualifying scores had been calculated, and the Top 16 was announced. Left to right: Todd Rich, Wesley Moya, David Curtis, Zach MacGillivray, Martin Deluca, Rob Carlson, George Kiriakopoulos, David Lloyd, Tony Cisneros, Rathyna Gomer, Aaron Sly, Blake Olsen, Matthew Dale, Joe Tardiff, Ethan Hunter, Trent Beechum, and announcer Justin Banner up top.

Top 16 Bracket:
Ethan Hunter vs. Martin Deluca
Blake Olsen vs. George Kiriakopoulos
Aaron Sly vs. Wesley Moya
Trent Beechum vs. Rathyna Gomer
Joe Tardiff vs. Rob Carlson
Matthew Dale vs. David Lloyd
Tony Cisneros vs. Todd Rich
Zach MacGillivray vs. David Curtis


TOP 16


Ethan Hunter vs. Martin Deluca
Ethan Hunter takes a by run after Martin Deluca is unable to line up due to mechanical difficulties.


Blake Olsen vs. George Kiriakopoulos
Blake Olsen leads, Kiriakopoulos follows. Olsen is fast, Kiriakopoulos has less power and falls back, but drives a good chase. Both drivers maintain drift through the entire course, and cross the finish line. George Kiriakopoulos leads, throws it into the entry hard, surprising Blake Olsen and causing him to go wide and off line at the outer zone after entry. Judges say One More Time.


Aaron Sly vs. Wesley Moya
Aaron Sly leads, Wesley Moya follows. Sly has a good entry, Moya is good on follow, but bobbles near the end. Both drivers finish the first run. Moya leads next going shallow on entry, but Sly runs wide on the follow. Judges give Wesley Moya the win.


Blake Olsen vs. George Kiriakopoulos. – OMT
DKAR-310Blake leads with a good, fast deep entry along the outer wall, but George is too fast, too wide, and off line on the follow, also bobbling around the second clipping point, while Olsen lays down a thick trail of smoke crossing the finish line. George leads, fast on entry, surprisingly leaving Olsen to play catch up. After a good run from both, and even after taking out a couple of cones on the outside of the entry to the last sweeper, Blake Olsen gets the win.


Trent Beechum vs. Rathyna Gomer
DKAR-314Trent Beechum leads, Rathyna Gomer follows and bobbles on initiation. Beechum has a good run, but Gomer bobbled throughout the course. Gomer leads and has trouble keeping a steady line throughout the course. Beechum is much faster, and keeps it close on the follow through the entire course. Gomer goes wide on the exit, and Beechum passes on the inside. Trent Beechum gets the win.


Joe Tardiff vs. Rob Carlson
DKAR-316Joe Tardiff leads with a huge gap on entry, and makes a good clean run while Rob Carlson shuts his machine down with smoke coming from the engine bay. Safety crew is called to the track to clean up oil, and Carlson forfeits due to mechanical failure. Joe Tardiff gets the win.


Matthew Dale vs David Lloyd
DKAR-319Matthew Dale leads, wobbly all over the track. David Lloyd also has trouble, unable to connect a follow line. Dale goes wide on the exit giving Lloyd an opportunity to pass, but Lloyd straightens instead. Lloyd leads, loses drift around first clipping point, and shuts it down. Matthew Dale gets the win.


Tony Cisneros vs. Todd Rich
DKAR-321Tony Cisneros takes off on his lead run, but his hood flies open a few feet after leaving the starting line, shattering his windshield. Todd Rich continues his “follow” around the course, and finishes. After making his way back to the pits, LVMS safety crews won’t allow Tony to continue to run because the windshield is not safe. In the most unexpected upset of the evening, Tony respects their decision, bowing out of the competition very early in Top 16, and the win goes to Todd Rich.


Zach MacGillivray vs. David Curtis
DKAR-323Zach MacGillivray leads, David Curtis follows. Good lead run by MacGillivray, but Curtis doesn’t mess around and gets gangster with a great follow. Curtis leads, MacGillivray also has a great follow, slightly closer than Curtis was in the previous run. Judges call One More Time.


Zach MacGillivray vs. David Curtis OMT
DKAR-322Zach leads, David has a really good follow again. Zach calls 5 minutes and heads to the pits.


Great 8


Ethan Hunter vs. Blake Olsen
DKAR-329Ethan Hunter takes off from the start with a huge lead. Blake Olsen follows Hunter’s line from far behind. Olsen leads, Hunter looks a little off line on the follow. Judges give Hunter the win, most likely due to the gap on the first run being the deciding factor.


Zach MacGillivray vs. David Curtis OMT continued
DKAR-326David Curtis leads, but Zach has a better follow than Curtis in the previous run. Zach MacGillivray gets the win in this battle carried over from Top 16.


Trent Beechum vs. Wesley Moya
DKAR-330Trent Beechum leads, Wesley Moya falls behind, but both finish with solid lines in their wake. Moya leads, and Beechum is right on his behind with an awesome and close follow run. Trent Beechum gets the win.


Joe Tardiff vs. Matthew Dale
DKAR-337Joe Tardiff has a great lead run, Matthew Dale is unable to follow making a few slight mistakes. Decent run, both drivers cross the finish line. Dale takes his lead. Tardiff is super close, but bobbles around the first clipping point when Dale goes wide. Tardiff is super close on last turn where there is near contact. Both drivers cross the finish line, and the judges call One More Time.


Zach MacGillivray vs. Todd Rich
DKAR-340Zach MacGillivray leads, and Todd Rich being underpowered has trouble keeping up. Both cars cross the finish line. Rich leads, has a good entry, but straightens at first clipping point. Zach MacGillivray gets the win.


Joe Tardiff vs. Matt Dale OMT
DKAR-341Joe Tardiff leads and Dale has a good follow run. Dale leads, makes an excellent entry with lots of angle, but Joe Tardiff keeps it close gets the win.


Final 4


Ethan Hunter vs. Trent Beechum
DKAR-344Ethan Hunter leads with Trent Beechum really close on a super good follow. Beechum leads with a great entry, but Hunter surprisingly has trouble following. Hunter is off line while following, and then goes off course on the inside of the last turn. Trent Beechum gets the win.


Joe Tardiff vs. Zach MacGillivray
DKAR-4618Joe Tardiff calls 5 minutes after breaking an axle during his warmup burnout. Joe’s 5 minutes expire, but Zach asks to give Joe more time to complete repairs. Team Tardiff is only able to get half the bolts back in the axle due to time restraints. Tardiff makes it back to the line to run MacGillivray, but shuts it down before the entry on his lead. The quick repair didn’t hold up, and Zach MacGillivray gets the win, which bumps Tardiff off podium and gives Ethan Hunter 3rd place.


Battle for 1st


Trent Beechum vs. Zach MacGillivray
DKAR-347Trent Beechum leads, good entry, Zach MacGillivray great on follow. Trent goes really wide on the outside of the second clipping point before the finish line, and Zach almost passes on inside. Zach leads next, and Beechum gives a great chase. Judges call One More Time.


Trent Beechum vs. Zach MacGillivray OMT
DKAR-350Trent leads with a very fast entry with Zach right behind him. It was a good close run. Trent calls 5 minutes for repairs. Resuming the battle, Zach leads with a great entry and close tandem by from Trent. Trent Beechum has slight errors in this final run, and judges give Zach MacGillivray the win.


DKAR-3721st place, Zach MacGillivray. 2nd place, Trent Beechum. 3rd place, Ethan Hunter.


DKAR-374Zach MacGillivray holds his own and dominates this round with a first place finish. Trent Beechum has been showing his prowess, taking second place just one week after winning first place at Top Drift ProAm Round 2. Ethan Hunter drives hard enough to keep his name up top in a game of rules. What’s impressive is that all 3 of these drivers are very young, and these kind of results show that young drivers are on the rise in competitive drifting. Watch for future features on some of these up and coming young athletes.


2015Season_UpdateWe had a great time at the Southwest Drift Series Round 3. A less visited track is always a welcome idea, and the drivers seemed to enjoy taking it away from a road course for a round. Southwest Drift Series Round 4 will be held on June 28, 2015 at Colorado National Speedway in Dacono, Colorado. Until then, enjoy the gallery.


-David Karey


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