So…. Many of you know about the charity group I support: Wish Upon a Wedding. We provide weddings for clients who are terminally ill, and cannot afford to get married. Creating a dream wedding for these couples is priceless.
Our annual fundraiser, The Blissful Wishes Ball, raises the much needed funds to provide the weddings. And, what’s a fundraiser without an auction? So… there I was in April, checking out the auction offerings. One of them was a very special event … Formula Drift Racing.
Well, I thought, this might be a terrific gift for my husband who is impossible to buy for. (And, no, I didn’t know what it was! … But it seemed cool). So I raised my hand a couple of times, and voila! A certificate good for a ride in a professional Formula Drift car and tickets to come back on another day and view the finals of the Formula Drift Championship Races. What a deal!!
My communication with Jim Liaw, the founder and president of Formula Drift Holdings, was very informative and cordial. He kindly provided information about Formula Drift racing, intructions for setting up our “ride along”, and a run down of the events for the championship finals.
Off we went on a Thursday afternoon to Irwindale Speedway (Irwindale, CA). We met Jim (himself!) who is the Founder and President of Formula Drift Holdings. He gave us an overview, and turned us over to Brandon, who was charming and in charge of us from then on.
I know it was a gift for Howard, but I wrangled a ride-along, too! What an interesting experience to be out there at the track, on the “hot grid” … with all the cars warming up and doing their practice runs. The “drift” part employs laying as much rubber on the track as possible. The clouds of smoke; smell of rubber burning; 85 degree heat; fire suits and helmets all made for the “real deal.”
Howard got his ride along with Mike Essa, the 2013 Champion! They had a fabulous run around the track … all 25 seconds of it! And, we learned, the cars go thru one entire set of tires every two laps! It’s no wonder that most of the big sponsors are tire companies.
We had borrowed a GoPro from HD Optics (thanks to a friend/client of mine) .. so, we have fun pictures of Howard as he whisked around the track.
My turn: fire suit; helmet and ready to get in the car. I have a tiny head, and the helmet kept falling down over my eyes, so I had to hold it up the whole ride.
I met my professional driver, Robbie Nishida, also a major contender. He is from Japan, so his race car is right-hand drive. (different!)
Off we went, and while the GoPro was filming me, Howard was filming the car going around the track. Afterwards, he integrated the two videos … so here it is!
It was a fun, “smelly”, hot afternoon doing something all new and different… quite a treat.
We returned to Irwindale on Saturday night for the big finals. The half-time intermission was the time to show up for junk food, displays and walks around the vendor kiosks, and motorcycle demos. The “pit garages” are open to everyone at the event, and hundreds of fans walk about from competitor to competitor, and check out the race cars, and meet the drivers. They sell everything from tires to model remote-control drift racing cars.
The second half began with a swearing-in of several people into the armed forces, and then the National Anthem. We loved it all … loved being in the stands for the final “16” and loved watching Daigo Saito win it all. Sorry one of “our guys” didn’t win…but thrilling anyway.
For those in the wedding/event business… plan to attend the Blissful Wishes Ball next year. It’s a great charity to support, and you never know what might come up for auction!!