Sideways in the Sand

On June 28 and 29, smoke can be seen rising up from the bowl that is the Walt James Stadium at Willow Springs International Raceway. Just Drift held their Pro-Am series Top Drift Round 3. Amongst the crowd was Formula Drift driver Taka Aono who helps set the track and judge the main event at every Top Drift round. There were a lot of tough contenders battling it out for the podium at this event. With the long sweepers and sudden transitions, the stadium is a great track, but really hurt drivers who were short on horsepower.

The drifters that stood out to me were Spike Chen, Alex Heilbrunn, Jeff Groff, George Kiriakopoulos, Matt Madrigali, Donovan Brockway and Dan Burkett. They had many smooth, flowing runs and transitions while making a lot of smoke.

On the day of the event it was a sweltering 104 degrees and the competition was almost as heated as the weather. There were several close tandem runs. Among them were Spike Chen vs. Alex Heilbrunn competing for the spot in the top four. After a OMT (one more time), Spike Chen hit the cone at the first transition, costing him the win. Alex Heilbrunn moved onto the top 4.

The drivers who came out on top were (in order of 1st to 3rd) Dan Burkett, Matt Madrigali, and Jeff Groff. These guys really showed what they were made of, drifted and worked through the heat, and came out on top. It was a well deserved win for Dan Burkett after placing fourth at Top Drift Round 1 and second at Top Drift Round 2. If he stays consistent in his wins, he could have a shot at a Formula Drift license in the coming year.