Energy is everywhere, it surrounds us in many shapes and forms. It powers our cities, fuels our vehicles, it’s man-made or natural, physical or invisible, energy is always there one way or another. The question is, have you ever found yourself in a specific location or moment in time where you’ve felt some sort of energy surrounding yourself? You know that feeling you get while at a great concert, the lighting is something special, the music is everything that it’s meant to be, that moment you’re in is being fueled by this energy irradiating from the stage, from the band playing and everyone around you. You can’t see it, but it’s there, you feel it and it feels good.
I now understand why Formula Drift at Road Atlanta is so highly talked about, it’s a sleeping giant that comes to life when the band takes stage, and when it does it’s something special. Road Atlanta is the stage for the energetic performance that FD delivers, and the track itself is truly a beautiful place. Rolling hills with dense and lush forestation, Road Atlanta finds itself nestled quietly in the middle of this landscape. The venue on it’s own gives off this vibe that you’re in a location where copious amounts of amazing moments take place, to grasp the real understanding behind it you have to experience it for yourself, and if you have been there before then you get it. Now get Formula Drift on stage, open the gates to the masses, lower the lights, and my oh my do we have a recipe for incredible times a head of us.
So much is felt being here, there’s an intensity like no other that fills the air. It’s a combination of the crowd, competing drivers, and the track itself. There’s only one switch with the crowd that filled the venue, and that switch is in the on position, it stays there from the moment they arrive till the moment they’ve left. I’ve never experienced a crowd such as this one before, so devoted, energetic, intense, wild, they’re in it 300% with no signs of toning it down. With this crowd you don’t have quiet sections, you don’t have those groups that just want to keep to themselves and mind their own business, they’re all rowdy, every last one of them, and they’re all there together for the exact same reasons.
Considering being a media guy down on track up close in the action, having my own good time, this has been the first event where I’ve looked back on and thought to myself, “man! I know I’m having a stellar time right now on track, but being in that crowd also looks like a stellar time too!”. That’s a crowd I’d want to have some beers with, and enjoy the action that’s on track. FD Atlanta is nothing but good times with rowdy people.
To add to the energetic atmosphere lets toss in some screaming engines, that sweet smell of race fuel, plumes of tire smoke, great times with good people, and we also can’t forget about the top tier drifting. I don’t know what it is, but when the sun goes down and those lights fire up and illuminate the track, everything changes. The mood changes as the darkness rolls in, this feeling as if the wolves are coming out to play sets in and the intensity in the air rises.
It was like a scene right out of Stranger Things as the tire smoke from the cars lingered low over the track from the dense humid night time air giving off this eerie vibe, the atmosphere that night was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. The added energy from the excited crowd, the aggressive driving, and night time setting really made it to be something unique.
As the night went on the battles were ever growing in intensity, every run was door to door with a strong sense of aggression being felt from the sidelines, it was mental. Memorable battles such as Ryan Tuerck vs James Deane, Chelsea DeNofa vs Alec Hohnadell just to name a few, and the one that stuck with myself the most was Kristaps Bluss vs Fredic Aasbo.
Just like the track and its location, people give off vibes 24/7 with from how they carry themselves, to how they interact with other around, and many other signs. On that last day during top 32 and on wards, there was so much aggression, intensity, purpose, and drive (no pun intended) in Bluss’s driving. That man was on a mission for a victory later that night, and through his driving you knew something was up.
Bluss was on fire, through each battle you could tell there was a hunger for victory. It looked like an all out war as he piloted his E92 eurofighter through the top 32 showing no mercy into the top 16 and so on. There was this sense of aggression and intensity in Bluss’s driving that weekend, almost along the lines of desperation but really the complete opposite of that. A more accurate way of putting it is, determination. The want and will to win was there, and it was made very apparent each battle with his do or die all or nothing attitude in my opinion.
Once Chris Forsberg’s third place podium was set in stone, it all came down to one last suspenseful battle for that second and first place finish, Fredric Aasbo vs Kristaps Bluss. The crowd was was on a new level of hype during this final battle, I’m pretty sure most of them lost their voices that night. Aasbo fans were in an uproar cheering for their driver to a victory over Bluss, Bluss fans had their fists in the air and yelling as loud as they possibly could letting everyone know that they wanted Kristaps Bluss to take this victory home. The rest of the crowd along with myself were beyond caught up in this madness of a moment, the judges couldn’t make up their minds on a victor after the initial lead and chase runs as each driver acted as a mirror image of the other. The first OMT (one more time) decision was made, Aasbo led as Kristaps basically became Aasbo’s shadow during this run, every inch of space Aasbo tried to gain Kristaps took back with massive amounts of aggression.
The crowd was frantically waiting for the judges decision, and to everyone’s surprise another OMT was decided upon as it was still too close to tell who out preformed who. Kristaps led this OMT and he did so with vengeance, I swear he took shape of a certain x-wing on it’s way to destroy the Death Star. Coming down out of the keyhole back towards the final turns Kristaps just walked away from Aasbo, right then and there the crowd went super saiyan they hit their peak level of hype, everyone knew the outcome of this final battle. During that moment I’ve never seen a crowd go so wild, the energy in here was insane, it was something amazing to be apart of. At this time the judges made up their minds, the top three drivers were brought down front and center on track in front of the crowd. Forsberg was given third place, and now there was that pause of silence as everyone stood in anticipation for the judges final decision on a victor.
The silence was broken as Jarod’s voice came on the p.a system and echoed within the venue. Those words we were all waiting for came about as Jarod announced “and the winner is……Kristaps Bluss!”.
The signals that are put out by ones body language can say so much about that current moment with how one feels, and can also be felt throughout the ones surrounding an individual during that moment. Down on track there was such a huge sense of over powering emotion and energy from the roof top of that Eurofighter, Kristaps took to center stage and let it all out in one monstrous yell for joy.
In the end, after all the hype, all the talk, everything I’ve heard and read about in the past about FD Atlanta being the favorite event to be at out of the FD series. After being there and those handful of days spent there covering it, I can truly say now I know why. So if you haven’t been to Road Atlanta for Formula Drift, or yet alone any other events that go on there, I strongly urge you to do so. There are many great combinations in life, and having Formula Drift front and center on a stage such as Road Atlanta is a show that caters to all your senses. From the sights of the environment you’re immersed in, to the sounds of the cars and crowds around, the all too familiar scent of race fuel and roasted tires, along with those vibrations that hit you square in the chest as those screaming engines fly by, FD Atlanta has it all and then some.