One of the first events I have ever attended as a photographer and videographer was Formula Drift. Although I am not on the circuit full time anymore, it is great to stay up with the series, and better yet, attending the event when it hits my home state of New Jersey. I can usually be seen around the paddock grabbing video footage, but due to a major family obligation this year, I could only attend Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions, which didn’t leave me with a good option to cut a film.

Instead I opted to take some photos and focus on some of my friends around the paddock and the venue that is Wall Speedway. It was refreshing to step back from filming and all the stress that comes with it. Doing photography is much more laid back and a welcome change for me at these crazy drift events.

You don’t have much time to catch up with old friends so you have to make the best of the time you have. I got to the track a few hours before the media meeting to see who was around the paddock and obviously check out some of this years builds. My buddy Nate Hamilton from Dallas has one of the best looking S-chassis on the grid. The car matches everything about this young lad.

I met Nate about six years ago when he and his crew made the journey to English Town for XDC. It is great to see how far he has progressed over the years in both driving and the styling of his car.

He has some of the nicest people in his crew. Shout out to Ray, Lilly and Jeff.

It was great to see Mats take Rookie of the Year last season. A well deserved accomplishment for a great driver. He and his father are a blast to chat with and they usually have some Canadian syrup on stash.

While wondering around the pits I ran into my buddy Michael Edwards, or as we like to call him, Carluch.

He has been around Formula D since its inception. Starting out as a driver and now crew chief for Drift Alliance brother, Tony Angelo. These two have been through a lot over the years and it’s great to see them still chugging away.

One of the best shops we have on the East Coast is RT Tuning out of Lansdale Pennsylvania. They provide huge support for all the local racers, especially this drifting.

This year Pat and Vince are backing Geoff Stoneback, another PA native. With Geoff’s performance so far this season, I would say the combination is a success.

Next to Stoneback’s pit was the King Of Spring Break, Patrick Goodin. One of the younger driver’s on the circuit, Pat has made quite a name for himself since his rookie year in 2012.

Do it for Dale buddy!

Dan Savage is a driver that I have known from the early days of East Coast Pro-Am. I have seen him grow from his small little Miata, to his V8 powered S13’s. I don’t know what possessed him to run an RX-8 this year, but what I do know, is that if Dan has proper seat time in this chassis, he will become consistent and be a force to be reckoned with.

His teammates Brad Heyl and James Evans are both in 350Z’s, with Brad’s being Tyler McQuarrie’s old chassis.

Unfortunately none of them qualified for the event but they were still in good spirits. Formula Drift has a big learning curve for rookies and after talking with them on Friday, they all seem to agree that they have learned a bunch in the three rounds they have attended thus far, and will continue to progress as the season goes on.

After walking around for a bit it was about time to head over to the daily media meeting. Here they go over the do’s and do nots and what the expect from you as a professional media outlet.

The media meetings are held by my friend John Pangilinan at The ID Agency. He has done a great job over the years helping people get on track as well as promoting all the media that is produced from the events.

Also from the ID Agency is Brandon Scarpelli, he is another great guy on the FD staff. He makes sure that every piece of media that comes from a Formula D event, makes it way around the internet. He has done good by me a lot in the past few years and he deserved to be mentioned. I’ll have some beer for you next time buddy.

Catching up with fellow shooters is always fun before the meeting starts. Some of my local photography friends, Dan Jenkins from Wrecked Magazine, and Mike Griffith from OMG Drift.

One of my favorite grassroots film makers is Corey Denomy. I met him when he came out with Nate Hamilton those years back when we referred to him as Russell Brand do to his magnificently long black hair. He now works for Motor Trend in LA, working with Hot Rod magazine and a whole bunch of other outlets. He also prefers to be behind the camera, not in front of it.

Some love him and some hate him, I just like drinking beers with him. Jarod and I have been beer pals for quite some time and he has been announcing Formula Drift for ever. He has done so well, that other major racing sanctions like, Global Rally Cross, have hired him on to do their announcing.

After the media meeting, they release us out on to the track. I love shooting here! There are so many great angles here that it’s so tough to pick and choose where you want to be to catch the action.

Aside from the track being fun to shoot, it has so much character. The beat up guardrails just show you how much racing has gone on here over the years.

I like to spend a lot of time at grid. Although it is just drivers in their cars and a few burnouts. You can usually capture some great moments.

Pat Mordaunt warming up his tires for a practice pass. Fun fact about this car, Pat is the fourth person to pilot this S13. It might look like crap but has given Pat the ability to make it to the Top 16 this past round.

Forsberg’s new car is bad ass! It looks good, it sounds good, and it has brought him four podiums this season thus far.

Burnouts on burnout.

One of the most interesting starts on the circuit. The banks at wall have such a degree of angle that the drivers have to fight to keep it straight when they take off.

Out on the track I ran into some more of my media brethren that I haven’t seen all year. Cody Slack is one of the most talented video makers on the scene. Check out his series with BC Racing this season, they are a blast to watch.

Another videographer from Florida that I am quite fond of is Kris Lawrence from Sweet Motion Films. He has teamed up with Cody this year and started a production company they call, Amenic7. There has been some great stuff so far from the first three rounds, check it out here.

If you are a drift fan, you know who Hert is from Hoonigan.

Mark Lenardon is another great film maker and good friend. This is his first year back on the FD circuit after taking a hiatus last season. He also works at Motor Trend with Corey and is making some great films for Geoff Stoneback this year. Check them out here.

Although I only met Geoff last year, he is a funny dude and will get you some awesome donuts if you visit him at Bob’s Donuts in California. Sorry we didn’t get beers this year buddy, maybe next time.

Shooting cars on video when they are moving is far easier than photographing them. After spending some time on the out skirts of the track, I decided it was time to get on track and see how my panning was.

Mats Baribeau and Kenneth Moen having a little tandem practice.

Vaughn Gitten JR. and Fredrick Aasbo running the bank. These two have seen each other in competition many times and currently both 3rd and 2nd in the point chase respectively. Congrats to Aasbo on his very first, first place.

I have been watching Tuerck drive since 2006 at Clubloose, D1 and Formula Drift. He has really come into his own over the years and always has a great looking car.

Last years champ, Michael Essa had a great qualifying run on Friday but he still sits in 13th place over all in the points chase and will have to perform flawlessly if he wants to finish in the top 5, or even top 10 this year.

Probably my favorite car in the series has to be Forest Wang’s S14. He has always had great looking cars and a killer driving style to match them. He is currently holding down the lucky number seven spot, creeping up on Justin Pawlak.

Odi Bakchis was long over due for his podium this past weekend. For the past few years he has been one of the most consistent drivers in the field, giving some of the top dogs a run for their money.

What more can you say about Chris Forsberg? He is at the top of his game for so far this season, racking four podiums in total. He is the points leader this year with a 59 point lead over Fredrick Aasbo. The next few rounds are going to be critical for Chris, but he has a solid team, and I have no doubt he will be the champ this season if he stays on track.

Even though I was only around for the day on Friday, it was refreshing to shoot Formula D from a new perspective and capture some of the scenes the event has to offer. I learned a lot about shooting stills at this and hope to perfect my skills the next time around. Thanks for reading along, it was a blast seeing everyone this weekend from old friends to new.

Formula Drift