Dan Brockett’s No Coast Drift Party is one of the events I look forward to attending every year. For the past 4 years, I’ve traveled with various groups of friends out to Sandia Motor Speedway in Albuquerque, New Mexico to hang out with some of the most awesome people in the drift community. This year, Vegas Drift hooked up with Dan Brockett/Whiskey Garage and brought Southwest Drift Series to Sandia, and added a bit of seriousness to the event that is usually a whatever goes drift party.
Bringing Southwest Drift Series Round 5 on board with the No Coast Drift Party, gives Sandia Motor Speedway recognition as a professional, competitive circuit that is capable and worthy of hosting a Formula Drift licensing series. The hard work by Dan Brockett and crew over the years is paying off, and I hope for a positive future created by this collaboration.
Typically, the last event of a Pro Am series always sees the lowest number of drivers, simply for the fact that some drivers and teams don’t see the point of spending money and time to compete when they are too low in points to catch up with the leaders. This event saw no exception to the usual, with just enough drivers registered for the comp to maybe bracket a Top 16, although many were there just to drive and have a good time on the No Coast Drift Party schedule.
Things are getting serious at Sandia. Unlike years past where Dan Brockett would gather everybody wherever he could, the driver’s meeting was held in the official’s booth on top of the grandstands, giving that extra touch of awesomeness to the event. Round 5 judges Ernie Fixmer, Dan Brockett, Brandon Wicknick, Juhan Rintanen, and Jon Shafer from Speed Driven Media would rest assured the drivers had a full understanding of how they were going to be judging. This would be the first ProAm event I’ve been to that I can remember that felt like a Formula Drift driver’s meeting.
Vegas Drift persuaded our good friend Geoff Pitts to come out and announce Round 5. Geoff is excellent at digging up info on drivers and sharing it with the crowd, along with cracking hilarious jokes here and there. Feedback on Geoff’s hosting has been A+, and I hope to see him announcing at more events we like to attend.
After all the meetings, drivers hit the track. I’ve only ever seen grassroots level cars, with the exception of the cars owned by Ethan Hunter, Jim Guthrie, and Brandon Wicknick, run Sandia in years past. There are some fasssssst cars running FD ProAm these days, so it was fun watching the drivers link the course and fill the field with tire smoke. With a couple of years of standing out in the field of Sandia under my belt, it was awesome seeing pro level machines manhandle the track.
One of the big stories coming into Round 5 was that of Tony Cisneros. Cisneros was sitting 2nd in points, just 84 points behind points leader Joe Tardiff. Unfortunately, his S14 would suffer from clutch slave issues, which rendered his car undriveable. Luckily for him, Jim Guthrie came to the rescue and offered his well sorted SN95 Mustang to drive. Cisneros was looking great on his qualifying run, until he chucked it sideways a little too hard and spun out right before the last turn. Our friend Tony Cisneros’ season ended right before our eyes, and he sadly would not earn his FD license.
As qualifying concluded, we found ourselves in a predicament. Of all the cars that ran qualifying, only 12 had qualified. Out of those 12, 2 would sit out for technical reasons. Allen Aiken qualified 12th in his 4 door Grand Marquis, but it did not have a cage required by safety rules to run tandem, so he would have to sit out and his bracketed competitor Nick Stucky would get a bye. The other driver was David Lloyd, who qualified 10th in his RWD 2JZ powered Subaru, who would sit out with a burnt clutch, giving Blake Olsen a bye. In order to make up for the lack of a full Top 16, Joe Tardiff, Ethan Hunter, and Jim Guthrie would also get a bye.
Jeff Osborne vs. Joe Olson
Jeff Osborne would face Joe Olson in the first battle of the shortened Top 12. Osborne leads, initiating into the bank, carrying a solid line through clipping zones 1 and 2, but straightens through the chicane. Olson has trouble following Osborne from initiation into the bank, straightening several times through the remainder of the course. Olson takes his lead run driving a little wild at times, throwing too much angle coming out of the chicane that causes him to straighten. Osborne was able to drive a nice follow line, and judges awarded him the win.
Ryan Zielinski vs. Shad Dahlquist
Zielinski leads, going wide coming off the bank into the infield. Dahlquist misjudges Zielinski’s line and slows down and spins to avoid contact, but Zielinski is able to recover and keeps drifting through the finish. Dahlquist takes his lead run, loses control coming off the bank into the infield second clipping zone, allowing Zielinski to make a pass. Dahlquist’s tire explodes a few seconds later, proving that tire management could be the factor that knocks you out of the competition. Zielinski gets the win.
Joe Tardiff vs. Jeff Osborne
Rain starts falling on Tardiff’s lead. Despite the rain, there is still grip left on the track and Tardiff’s car is much faster than Osborne’s, allowing him to create a gap. Osborne doesn’t give up and finishes in style. Osborne takes lead, shuts it down at the end of the bank, re-initiates drift, and both cars finish the course with Tardiff right on Osborne’s rear. Tardiff gets the win.
Trevor Jameson vs. Nick Stucky
Continuing with a wet track, Jameson goes wide coming off the bank into the infield. Stucky takes a shallower follow line with more angle, but the ground is wet and he spins at the entrance to the infield. Stucky leads, looking good while Jameson’s follow looks a bit rough with some straightens. Judges call One More Time.
Trevor Jameson vs. Nick Stucky OMT
The first run of this OMT battle is as textbook as it gets despite the wet track. Jameson has a great lead, but Stucky is right there on the follow. Stucky takes the lead on the second pass of the OMT, goes too wide coming off the bank into the infield and Jameson passes. Stucky catches back up and sucks it in behind Jameson and finishes with an awesome follow, though he shouldn’t have been behind him in the first place. Judges give Jameson the win.
Blake Olsen vs. Ethan Hunter
Hunter leads first. Hunter has a slight bobble transitioning from the bank into the infield, but the remainder of the run is very good from both drivers, with Olsen getting super close on the follow. Olsen takes the lead with Hunter having trouble on the bank while following. Olsen makes an amazing pass while Hunter has a few corrections, leading to the judges giving Olsen the win.
Jim Guthrie vs. Ryan Zielinski
Yes that is the same Mustang that Justin Pawlak drives in Formula Drift… the same one Jim Guthrie rolled in Vegas a few years back, etc. Guthrie leads high on the bank enough to kick dirt, but Zielinski goes wide off the bank into the infield. Guthrie has slight corrections at 2nd clipping point. Guthrie finishes far ahead of Zielinski. Zielinski leads and straightens coming off the bank into the infield and drives straight while Guthrie manjis behind him for a while and then shuts it down. Guthrie gets the win.
Joe Tardiff vs. Trevor Jameson
Tardiff leads, Jameson slower on the follow, but both drivers make a good run and cross the finish line. Jameson leads and goes way off course after the second clipping zone, and Tardiff keeps going and gets the win.
Blake Olsen vs. Jim Guthrie
Guthrie on the lead, Olsen falls far back on the follow. Olsen leads, Guthrie goes high on the bank and off course behind Olsen. Judges give Olsen the win.
Battle for 3rd
Jim Guthrie vs. Trevor Jameson
Guthrie leads, high on bank and chucks it hard sideways while transitioning from the bank into the infield. Jameson hangs in there not too far behind. Jameson takes the lead with a great line, but Guthrie sticks right behind him with an amazing follow, getting even closer through the finish. Results will be announced at podium.
Battle for 1st
Joe Tardiff vs. Blake Olsen
Tardiff makes a super good run, very typical of the driver who’s been taking podiums across the west this year. Olsen falls back, but charges hard through the rest of the course and gets super close to Tardiff through the finish. Olsen takes his lead run, but Tardiff keeps it close the entire time.
After a short competition with awesome performances, Joe Tardiff takes first place at Southwest Drift Series Round 5! Blake Olsen grabs second, and Jim Guthrie proves he has a good time drifting with a solid third place finish.
Round 5 also marks the end of the 2015 Southwest Drift Series season, and with that comes a series champion and Formula Drift licenses to the top 3! Joe Tardiff stands in first as overall champion, Blake Olsen finishes second, and Ethan Hunter finishes off the top 3 in third. Congrats on your FD licenses boys.
Southwest Drift Series had a great first year. Hitting Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico offers variety and excitement away from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway home of Vegas Drift. It was awesome watching drivers and teams battle it out every round, and witnessing drivers improve their skills and progress into dominating their competition. There is no better place to end it than No Coast Drift Party.
As the sun fell below the horizon, the No Coast Drift Party got started. It didn’t matter who was who, if you brought a car and came to drive, it was time to have fun. Brandon Wicknick and bros Nick Stucky and Juha Rintanen hit the track and kept it good for the fans in the stands during the Whiskey Garage team tandem competition.
The track goes cold, but the party doesn’t stop. In traditional No Coast Drift Party fashion, everybody gathers around a bonfire and listens to a kickass live metal band thrashing out some tunes.
Bear: The Nightmare is pretty sick band. They are local to Albuquerque and have been playing at every No Coast Drift Party I’ve attended since 2012.
Doing what I came to do, I put the camera down for the night to hang out with my ABQ homies I only get to see once a year. These people are fun to kick it with. I don’t see the point in traveling to events only to go to a hotel room or home when the event ends. You need to have friendships, or else it’s all for nothing.
The second and last day of No Coast is usually reserved for relaxing and jacking around. I took advantage of plenty of ride alongs with my camera courtesy of Brandon Wicknick, and did nothing important for the day, just as I planned on doing. No dedication, no schedule, no promises, no guilt.
There was an entry contest going on, and Juha Rintanen won it.
Enjoy the Southwest Drift Series Round 5 and No Coast Drift Party gallery. I hope you all have some time to go through all these photos. Thanks for the good times, ABQ.