By Tabrese Sequeira / @Pixelsbytab
It seems we have been saying this for the last 5 or 6 years, but now it appears to be the final time we will witness The Final Fight. Irwindale has been dubbed the House of Drift and has hosted the final round of the Formula Drift championship since it’s inception in 2004 as well as a D1 exhibition round in 2003; many of you will know the familiar face who took the win at that event. Over the years we’ve seen it all at this venue: exciting battles, spectacular crashes, a few layout changes, and even witnessing, at the risk of sounding cheesy, “boys becoming men.” Any driver that has come through the ranks of FD wants to drive it and every fan who has ever watched FD wants to attend.
Irwindale has been a staple to FD since it’s inception and it’s going to be weird going forward without it. Something about this place always creates drama be it good or bad. From engine failures to crashes and anything else under the sun it seems that those coveted podiums spots at the end of the year never come easy. James Deane decided to make it easy on himself by dominating the field and having an unbelievable 90.6 win percentage, so coming into this round all he had to do was drive in the Top 32.
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t drama. For Kristaps Bluss things didn’t go as planned. After a lost engine in his E46 he had to bring out the E92 Eurofighter which he planned to debut next season. I’m not going to complain.
Ryan Tuerck had an extremely rough event as he lost 3 engines.
Dean’s engine blew in top 32, dumping oil on track, which sent Ken Gushi into the wall. This left the Greddy team scrambling to fix the car for a Top 16 battle they ultimately did not get to drive.
James Deane and Odi had a little contact in their battle later in the evening leaving James to FIx his car while Odi waited in anticipation. This is the first competiton timeout I’ve witnessed and i must say it’s amazing to see these teams work so well under pressure.
Not to mention, one of the crowd and series favourites and one of the realest OG of FD, Robbie Nishida announced his retirement.
When all the smoke settled, Piotr Wiecek took his first FD win along with his Rookie of the Year title. FD let everyone onto the track for the podium ceremony and I made it a little late to the party so I had to be on the outside looking in as bottles were popped and trophies handed out.
For the final round I decided to go all out and try some of the shots I’ve seen produced by some of the great photgraphers I follow; I felt it was only right given the reptutation of the venue. You gotta let it all hang out at Irwindale so I didn’t want to regret not t least trying. I tried shooting on the roof this year and got the best shot I’ve taken to date.
Irwindale 2017 is in the books and it was a proper send off for The House of Drift.