Formula Drift Seattle is always the biggest event of the year for the PNW. We wait all year for it and camp at the speedway Wednesday through Sunday.
This year was a little different from years past because it was my first time driving the car all year. This both added stress and took some away because I wasn’t sure how the new setup was going to feel, but at the same time I could just drive and have fun because so far this year I have no championship points.
Thursday was the first practice day for the Pro-Am drivers. We set out to get a good feel for the car and the track because when Formula D comes to town barriers are added to both protect the media guys and keep the drivers on top of their game. Our practice went well, and within a few laps I was feeling good in the car again and ready for Friday qualifying.
Friday showed what us Washington drivers are used to, insane amounts of rain in the morning. So much rain that our morning practice actually got cancelled. By the time our qualifying rolled around at 6pm, the track was dry. Because we got no practice Formula Drift officials let us each take two practice runs before our two qualifying runs. It wasn’t an ideal situation but under the circumstances it was more than fair.
My two practice runs went well and got me reacquainted with the track. My first qualifying run wasn’t so good. I dropped tires off course coming off the bank and got a very low score of 38. I wasn’t too worried about it because I knew I had a second run and was confident I would score well enough to qualify at least mid-pack.
When I was next in line for run #2, I did a small burn out to get some heat back in the tires and then pulled up to the line. Right before I was about the get the green light track officials started yelling and giving me the “shut it down” signal. I shut the car off and coasted down to a grassy part of the track, only to find out my motor had pushed a soft plug out of the block, and all of the water had drained from the motor in about 30 seconds. Just like that qualifying run #2 was out the window and now I had to rely on a very underwhelming 38-point run to get me into the main event on Saturday.
Immediately after qualifying was a drivers meeting to announce who made it and where they placed. I left the car with my crew and headed over to the meeting, knowing we could have the car fixed overnight and be good for Saturday as long as I qualified. At the meeting the judges announced the scores, and unfortunately for us we missed making the field by a single point.
I sat through the entire meeting then made my way back to the pits to break the unfortunate news to my crew, who actually had the car fixed and ready to go by the time I got back just incase we made it.
While we obviously were hoping for a much better outcome, we still had a lot of fun and enjoyed watching both the pro and pro-am cars run the main competition on Saturday. This whole season has been incredibly full of struggles, but sometimes that’s part of the game and we are already looking ahead to next season.