The second running of the State of Drift championship series came to a close last weekend at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, KY. A culmination of talent from across the Mid-south and beyond, several drivers were in contention for the championship, with the four-event season coming down to the final round to decide who would take home the crown, and a wad of cash, for the 2015 season.
A menacing weather forecast indicated the event would almost certainly turn into a soaking wet spectacle, but only a light sprinkle here and there allowed the final round to go off without much of a hitch.
This is probably for the best, otherwise, guys like Richard Matthews would have been rather miserable.
Coming off a clean sweep at the fourth round of Midwest Drift Union, Hooman Rahimi managed only a few passes before his transmission bit the dust.
With a fairly narrow time window in which to complete the event, drivers were starting tandem practice very early on.
Series points leader Steven Fishel grabbed the top qualifying spot, and, along with Jonathan Hurst and Matt Schroeder, was granted a by in the first round of competition in an effort to run a top sixteen bracket.
As far as the rest of comp, Charlie Quatmann eliminated Dustin Miles, sending the SC400 to top eight.
Austin Sorah took his S13 to a victory over round three second place finisher Richard Matthews and his LS-Miata.
Will Mueller took his FC convertible to top eight with a win over Joey Moran, with Ricky Adams defeating Michael Montanti and Bryan Broberg defeating Tyler Pole to round out top sixteen.
The first match of top eight would see the pairing of two drivers who had by runs, Fishel and Hurst, with Fishel getting the nod.
“The first thing I said on the way here was the two people I didn’t want to run against were Hurst and Ricky, and of course, the first person I go against was Hurst,” Fishel said. “It was a lot of fun, but it was the most nervous I think I’ve been in all of the events that State of Drift has put on.”
Adams took out Schroeder to advance to the final four.
“He’d been killing it all day and I wasn’t sure how that one was going to go,” Adams said. “I tried to just go in quick on the entry, ride the wall and I guess he was trying to follow and he said he was having some issues. When he lead, we reeled him in and got pretty close.”
Sorah eliminated Mueller’s FC for his spot in the final four.
The final spot in top four would go to Broberg after defeating Quatmann.
Fishel would take the win over Sorah in the first match of final four, sending Sorah to a third place match against Broberg after he was defeated by Adams. Unfortunately for Sorah, a hard wall impact would gift the win to Broberg, who would secure a third place finish.
“Following him on the entry I didn’t realize he was going to go all the way out and ride the wall, so I was trying to e-brake, clutch, anything to keep from going too far inside and hitting his car or the big hump in the middle so I spun out,” Broberg said of his match with Adams. “My lead run was clean but he followed awesome as usual so he got the win.”
That brought the final fight down to the two drivers who were sitting in first and second place in points, with Fishel ultimately making the clean sweep to qualify first and take the win.
“When they told me I was going against Rick I was like, shit, this is do or die,” Fishel said. “To be honest, I thought it would be a one more time because I didn’t know how they’d call him hitting the wall, but he gave me a run for my money. They said to let it all hang out and he did just that.”
“He’d been killing it all day and staying consistent,” Adams said. “It was going to go one way or the other. Besides losing my wing, it was a pretty solid run. It was a blast. This whole series all year has been fun, just hanging out with everyone and getting to know more people. I’m definitely coming back for next year.”
The victory secured Fishel’s points lead, crowing him the series champ.
“It feels great,” Fishel said, adding that he’ll most likely return to defend the title in 2016. “I really wanted it.”
Adams said he too would likely return to the series for 2016, possibly running in the either or both the Streetwise or Midwest Drift Union pro-am comps as well.
Head of Traction Optional and co-State of Drift organizer Andrew Chang said the differences between the inaugural 2014 season and that of 2015 are quite noticeable.
“The level of driving has definitely stepped up, they’re way more aggressive this year,” Chang said. “Also there are a lot of guys I see that are doing great in practice, but when the time comes to qualify, the intimidation factor sets in. Overall, driving has improved, there’s a lot of new guys that I would have never expected to do as well as they have today. This was probably our most exciting round. The level of competition seems to be more consistent now, which makes it harder for us to judge as well. We’re definitely learning as we go. The main goal is to keep it grassroots. We want to keep the fun part of drifting within the sport around here, and that’s what we’re seeing.”