This is where is all began. The original Formula Drift track that spawned a series of corners specifically built for the series and drifting. Irwindale Speedway may be the House of Drift, but Road Atlanta is the celebration of it.
It’s hard to imagine Formula Drift not running at Road Atlanta. Since its inception, the historic Georgia track has been on the schedule, ready to show the world what proper drifting is all about.
It separates itself by being a part of a permanent road course that had a keyhole feature made just so FD and its drivers had a place to run on the historic Georgia facility.
It creates a looping circuit utilizing turns 10 A and B. The long run up gives drivers speed to turn into nearly inverted entries while the elevation changes challenge lower powered cars going up and gives them the advantage back down to the start line.
However, that’s not what makes Road Atlanta such a fan favorite. It’s the stadium-like environment that encourages fans to get loud and rowdy. It’s the true tailgating experience that allows people to enjoy the runs and then go back to their cars or trucks to get more drinks and food.
They can even watch it from the comfort of their vehicle’s A/C or sitting in their truck beds. Not many courses give the fans the feeling that they are truly on top of and up close to the action like Road Atlanta does. Very rarely do fans get such freedom from other tracks on the circuit.
That stadium atmosphere can’t be expressed better than the cheering section known as “Team Rowdy.” These mega fans come out with custom signs, horns, and great attitude. You can’t miss them, even on the jumbotron, as they make their presence known. You almost can’t picture a Road Atlanta round without them as it just wouldn’t be the same.
The drivers even seem to push more here than any other track save Irwindale. The round itself and individual battles feel like a deciding round with more on the line than it should seem. That energy comes from those fans and their cheers, yells, chants, and interaction, all of which give off something that’s missing from most other tracks.
While you may be easily impressed with Gridlife, a normal Road Atlanta round is just that much better because there is competition and great dynamism at the same time.
This year, though, there was something special in the air, even more so than the ever-present clouds of tire smoke. Maybe it was because the series has been going there since 2003 and everyone was celebrating 15 years of Road Atlanta drifting.
Maybe because it wasn’t as humid, hot, and miserable as it can be during the day. Whatever it was, you knew something big was going to happen that night.
When Kristaps Bluss and Fredric Aasbo met in the final round, everyone was prepared for an instant Aasbo win. He’s a machine and comes in clutch when you absolutely need him to. However, that didn’t happen.
He didn’t fail; he was just bested by the Latvian driver in a straight up slug fest. Bluss has been so close to victory so often in the past but finally, on this night in Road Atlanta, he was awarded his first win.
It would be a fitting victory: Bluss’ first win comes at Formula Drift’s 15th year of Road Atlanta, the first ever permanent round for the drifting series. From that humble beginning no one truly predicted that FD would become the powerhouse it is.
No one saw it expanding into Canada, creating a World Series, or even having a series in the birthplace of drifting in Japan.
However, Road Atlanta saw something when Jim Liaw and Ryan Sage approached the track a decade and a half ago to set up the first tour of the series.
Now, we have all of that and more.