It’s been nearly a month since Golden Gate Drift held it’s final round of their Formula Drift Pro Am licensing series at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California. Things have been pretty hectic for the past couple of weeks, but let’s finally talk about Round 5 and who fought their way to the finish, and who will be going to Formula Drift Pro 2 next year.
Thunderhill Raceway Park was an excellent choice of track to host the final round of GGD of 2015. With it’s gorgeous views and modern track amenities, spectators and competitors of the series always have a great time with a track side front and center view of all the action.
Luke Crowell, the owner and director of Golden Gate Drift, and the entire GGD crew do an excellent job letting the drivers know what they expect of them. Thunderhill Raceway is a costly and professional place to race, and having each round go as smoothly as possible will ensure that Golden Gate Drift and it’s competitors will be welcome back for years to come.
Going in to Round 5, the points were super close for everybody, meaning any of the drivers near the top of the points had an opportunity to pounce on the leaders. One of those drivers was Joe Tardiff. Unfortunately, Joe was sitting in the hospital during this event with a broken hip and concussion as a result of a drifting collision at Sonoma Drift the previous Wednesday evening with Chris Mills, who interestingly enough would be competing at Round 5. The support for Joe was overwhelming, with drivers, friends, and fans signing a framed photo I brought up to give to Joe in his hospital on the way home after the event.
Sitting down here in Southern California, I see a few different events running in NorCal, and for some reason or another, notice that a few drivers don’t run one event or the other for whatever reason. Let’s be honest, not everybody gets along in this drift game, but everybody, and I mean everybody, enjoys Joe Tardiff and the environment he creates wherever he goes. Thanks to those who showed support and kept Joe’s spirits high in trying times for he and his family.
Matt Madrigali was one of the first in line to hit the track and get the car dialed in when the course went hot. With Ryan Rasberry only 13 points behind in points, Matt really needed to secure a first place finish, because Ryan is no slouch when it comes to tandem and could easily take Matt out if any mistakes were made.
Some competitors weren’t so lucky dialing their cars in. Not even halfway into morning practice, several drivers suffered engine failure which resulted in them throwing the hat in for the day. A couple of those drivers were Joe Farasati, who lost oil pressure and couldn’t get the engine to fire, and Tony Cisneros, who made the trek from Southern California with his crew, only to have the motor give out just minutes into their first lap or 2.
With driver numbers dwindling and bad luck running rampant through the pits throughout the morning, the remaining competitors would have to drive their hearts out and pray to the mechanical gods for a solid performing machine. One of those drivers were Dominic Martinez, a 13 year old drifter who’s been making waves in the drift community for his age and enough experience already under his belt to be a menace for others on track. Dominic qualified 9th.
Travis Ragona was the man to show the entire field how it was done, qualifying in first place with a couple of great runs. Matt Madrigali qualified 2nd, Julian Dumay in 3rd, Tyler Knudsen in 4th, Chris Mills in 5th, Tony Frangieh in 6th, Josh Sher in 7th, Joe Freeman in 8th, Dominic Martinez in 9th, Ryan Rasberry in 10th, Chris Bixler in 11th, and Carlos Cano in 12.
One of the most notable battles of the afternoon was Joe Freeman vs Dominic Martinez, which went one more time, several times. After numerous passes, Martinez defeated Freeman.
Chris Mills and Carlos Cano drove savage, with the victor being Mills after Cano drive a little too wild going off course and kicking up a bit of dust. I am glad Carlos didn’t catch an edge in the dirt and roll his car.
Josh Sher would stop Ryan Rasberry from advancing to Round 5 podium. Sher would go on to face Matt Madrigali in his next battle.
Tony Frangieh, better known as Tone, or Sideshow Tone on the streets, would defeat Chris Bixler to move on to the Great 8.
Kicking off the Great 8, first place qualifier Travis Ragona who had a bye in the Top 12, would take out the 13 year old rising star, Dominic Martinez.
Chris Mills continued his fight to podium, defeating Tyler Knudsen and his purple s13 who had a bye in the Top 12, in an exciting tandem battle that came down to proximity.
Matt Madrigali, who had a bye in the Top 12, would defeat Josh Sher, proving that test and tune earlier in the day would be the key to a solid performance later in the afternoon.
Julian Dumay, who also had a bye in the Top 12, would end Tony Frangieh’s day in a super hard fought OMT battle between the 2. We thought Tony did an excellent job putting the pieces together to get this far in competition, but Julian Dumay overcame several issues throughout the day to get the win.
Matt Madrigali and Julian Dumay would meet in the first battle of the Final 4. With a couple of errors canceling each other out, some brutal driving would get Madrigali the win and advancement to the battle for first.
Chris Mills and Travis Ragona would also meet in the Final 4. Ragona drove hard, but Mills drove harder and took the win to move on to the battle for first. Ragona would go on to take third after Julian Dumay suffered mechanical failure.
Matt Madrigali and Chris Mills went at it in the battle for first like the tandem beasts they were on this day. After a good pair of runs, we would find out who the first place winner was at podium.
With light dwindling and spectators excited to see a winner, Matt Madrigali was announced the first place winner of Golden Gate Drift Round 5. Chris Mills piloted his 350z to a second place finish, and Travis Ragona held on finish in third.
After some serious number crunching and a brief break, the season champion and Formula Drift Pro 2 license winners were announced. Matt Madrigali proved to be the strongest competitor of the Golden Gate Drift 2015 season, ultimately taking the season champion trophy. Ryan Rasberry earns an FD license hanging in there to finish in 2nd, and Julian Dumay continues to impress with leaps and bounds of improvement to finish with an FD license in 3rd. I hope to see you boys in Formula Drift in 2016, and good luck to all of you and your programs.
Being a part of the Golden Gate Drift 2015 season was a blast. Being the first year I made consistent trips to NorCal for drifting, I made a lot of new friends and solidified friendships with long time acquaintances. I look forward to being there for the 2016 GGD season and picking up where we left off.
This trip from SoCal to NorCal was great, but the best part of it was getting to see our buddy Joe Tardiff and giving him the framed print that showed how much support he has in the drift community. There wouldn’t be enough room on this photo if everybody who knows Joe around the globe had a chance to sign it. What a great trip!