The Evergreen Pro-Am Round Two event was this past Sunday and it did not disappoint. The very best of the Northwest were out in abundance competing for a professional Formula D license. Drivers from Oregon to as far away as Canada made their way to the centrally located Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington. The very same place that will be hosting Formula Drift Round 5 in July.
In addition to the head to head drift action of the Pro-Am, the grassroots drift series was intertwined with the event as well. These drivers are not necessarily novices but they don’t have the required safety equipment to run the full track which includes the big 5/8th track. With all of this happening in the same place at the same time, there are bound to be interesting stories to tell from all aspects of the day!
Pete Schroeder was out in his mostly stock street car because his track car wasn’t finished in time. Lots of us can relate to that, I’m sure – I know I can. Pete is from Vancouver, BC and is the owner of Neptune D, a shop known in the area for helping out with the local drifters. He was rocking the Toyota Cressida all day with the stock 7MGTE – goes to show you that not everybody needs a 1JZ; but it sure wouldn’t hurt!
Practice was held early in the day and both the Pro-Am drivers and grassroots drivers alternated the order of course entry. Here you can see that this Nissan 240SX S14 doesn’t have a cage so, of course, the driver was a grassroots competitor. Not everyone in the grassroots competition is in search of a professional license but I’m sure a bunch are sharpening their skills to take on the Pro-Am comp later on.
One of the few Toyota Corolla AE86s out on the track that day was Trent Stromkins‘ SR20DET powered AE86. Trent was killing the track all day in practice but an unfortunate spin out had him tap the wall and bend a steering knuckle. Pretty unfortunate for him since he hails all the way from Canada and he drove the AE86 to the event that day! Despite the steering problem he was able to qualify 1st for the Pro-Am. Unfortunately, the issue caught up with him and transitioning from the power alley proved difficult – knocking him out of the competition.
Here is another grassroots competitor mashing on the gas through the power alley. The power alley is the transition between the bank and turn two, beginning in the infield. During Formula D events, this is where the drivers stand on the gas to extend and speed through as fast as they can into the next turn. Here is where the battles are won and lost at Evergreen Speedway.
Kyle Pollard gained his Formula D license last year at the Pro-Am Nationals in Irwindale along with Walker Wilkerson. Since then, Kyle has been getting ready for his debut at the Seattle Formula D event by competing in the local Pro-Am series. Looking better than ever in the Honda-powered AE86 Levin he pilots, he went all the way – eventually winning this round.
Relative drifting newcomer Galen Callahan was out for the grassroots portion of the day in his 1JZ-swapped Toyota Cressida. With the skill that he has gained in a short amount of time, I’m sure he will be able to make a name for himself. Unfortunately, he was knocked out in the first round by veteran, Kohei Nakamura.
For one of the biggest surprises of the day, we had a ghost of drifting past grace us with his presence. Earl Smith, (on the left) a former local now residing in San Jose, poses with A-Team teammate and pro drifter Nikolay Konstantinov. Earl was a large personality in the NW during the early days of NW drifting; creating and promoting the Comrades banner along with the first local drift video under the Running Projects production company he runs. He told no one of his arrival (except me) so, as he was walking through the pits, many roars of happiness erupted. Good to see you Earl!
Kory Keezer was back, with his usual aggressive style, driving his SR20DET-powered Mazda RX7 FC. He was doing great all day but, like we all do when drifting, he eventually crashed. Coming hot off the bank, Kory went back first into the wall. He was able to drive the car off the track so I hope that it’s not as bad as it looked.
A heated battle between Erich Hagen in his CA18DET-powered BMW E30 and Chris Jeanneret in his Nissan 240SX S14 took place during the Pro-Am event. They were both doing great with only minor things separating them from one another but the judges saw fit to advance Erich.
After all of the great driving Erich gave us all day, he was awarded with the grand prize of “rod knock” in his CA18DET. I know he was formulating a plan to get it fixed quickly and I hope does so we can see him out there again at the next event.
Anthony Carreon was consistent all day, hitting the clipping points with ease in the grassroots competition.
There were a lot of great drivers in the grassroots competition but, ultimately, only one would win. With each run looking like an instant replay of the previous, Kohei Nakamura won the grassroots event with skill and consistency. His entries were the earliest of the day and he pointed the car exactly where it needed to be. Kohei has been around for a while, traveling from Canada often for events in Washington. I hope to actually see him in the Pro-Am event next time.
Peter Funatake is another recently licensed FD driver honing his skills before the Seattle FD event. Peter is no stranger to the stress of Pro-Am after winning the series last year, securing his license. Here he is piloting the trademark Nissan 240SX S13 that he’s been driving for a few years now. Rumor has it that he is working on a new competition car for FD this year – cant wait to see it!
The unmistakable blue 240SX S13 driven by Mike Phillips was hindered by a blown turbo for most of the day. A tough break for Mike but he still went out there and did the best he could.
This 240SX S14 with an S15 Silvia front was almost three wheeled coming off the bank. What a great sight to see – the power flowing through the car, turning the wheels and eventually roasting the rubber, then turning into smoke.
The unfortunate part of the day came when a combination of miscommunication and exuberance resulted in Rob Primo backing his car into the wall. In qualifying, Primo was rocking the bank like a seasoned veteran in his newly finished 2JZ-powered S14. However, while going full out during competition, he was forced to avoid hitting the car he was following. Whipping the car around, Primo caught the corner on the wall and his car then whipped back to cause heavy damage to his front passenger wheel and suspension. Never to be caught down, he was wrenching away on it at Garage Autohero the next day. It should be back up in no time!
So here you have the winners of the Pro-Am competition: Kyle Pollard in first, Andrew Larson in second, and Peter Funatake in third. Great job guys!
The next Pro-Am event will be mixed in with Formula D Seattle on July 22nd-23rd. Be sure to come on out and enjoy some professional grade drifting along with some local hometown heroes!
Photos by Yoshi Shindo