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Eye Candy: Round Three | 2016 Southwest Drift

[dropcap style=”style1″]T[/dropcap]he first Arizona event in the 2016 Southwest Drift series, hosted by VegasDrift, took place in Tucson at the Musselman Honda Circuit – a track made for go-kart racing. The Tucson track, like others used in the series, was chosen to help competitors develop their skills on a variety of course configurations in an effort to earn a Formula Drift Pro 2 license.

_DSC6280Local up-and-coming drifters and aspiring Formula Drift drivers earn points put towards their overall standings by qualifying for each round’s Top 16 battles and awarded based on their performance in the Top 16. At the conclusion of the series, the license is awarded to the top three drivers with the most overall points.

“The Southwest Drift series is the best Formula D Pro-AM series in the United States” said Matt Haugen, who emerged victorious after his head-to-head battle for first place with the days’ number one qualifier, Andy Hateley. “The people who run it are at every FD event and really tied in with the professional community.”

Haugen added VegasDrifts involvement in Formula Drift gives the pro-am series a very professional look in addition to being ran similar to Formula Drift events.

IMG_8811“I think it’s the best and only way to prepare yourself for Formula Drift competition,” Haugen said.

Having lost to Haugen, Hateley secured the second place podium finish while Andrew Schulte, earned the final podium position after a battle with Mike Burns.

“The traveling, the different courses, the organization, the professionalism, the structure, the competitors, and right down to the award ceremonies,” Schulte said, adding “every little touch really adds to the experience and it’s all so much fun.”

Schulte noted that experiencing the event through qualifying and to the Top 16 battles and to a podium finish has made him appreciate the effort put into the series.

_DSC6544Austin Kregle has participated in each round of the series and noted the series has made him a more aggressive driver, but it has also taught him not to give up and keep a positive attitude.

“I have a better understanding of how frustrating it can be when you spend so much time and money to get the car ready for the next round, only to have a mechanical failure or crash and not make it to qualifying” Kregle said, who suffered a mechanical failure during practice runs and was unable to participate in the days qualifying sessions.

“I have gained more experience just by competing in each round thus far,” Kregle said, adding “and I understand in racing that things will not always go as you plan, but you can’t let a few bad events get in the way of what you want to achieve.”

IMG_8847Nineteen of the 24 drivers who participated in Round Three earned qualifying points while the just 14 drivers competed in the tandem battles. The Top 16 included:

  1. Andy Hateley
  2. Andrew Schulte
  3. Seth Wright
  4. Mike Burns
  5. George Kiriakopoulos
  6. Matt Haugen
  7. Zach Messiner
  8. Preston Watson
  9. Tony Chard
  10. Blake Olsen
  11. Bear Rzesnowiecky
  12. Nick Gross
  13. Javier Martinez
  14. Carlos Reyes
  15. DJ Lloyd

Current series standing:

  1. Andy Hateley, 173
  2. Blake Olsen, 125
  3. George Kiriakopoulos, 125
  4. Bear Rzesnowiecky, 124
  5. Matt Haugen, 120
  6. Seth Wright, 110
  7. Andrew Schulte, 97
  8. Preston Watson, 54

Photography by Hans Marquez and Nicole James

Lifestyle | Round Three | 2016 Southwest Drift

Drifting | Round Three | 2016 Southwest Drift

 

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