The Friday after what is believed to be the final Thursday Night Drift (TND) test and tune session at Irwindale Speedway, Formula D announced something special. For the first and only time ever, fans at the season-ending Round 8 on Saturday will be allowed onto the House of Drift track to take part in the podium celebration at the end of the event. It seems like a perfectly fitting way for big-time, pro drifting – which started coming here way back in 2003 – to say goodbye to the house it built, the House of Drift.
At this point, most locals who are not in disbelief of the track’s eminent closure on January 31, 2018, are pretty much resigned to the looming deadline. The appeals are over, the last hail Marys hucked, and it seems now all that’s left to do is remember and pay tribute. There was a lot of that at the final TND, a lot of recalling better, happier times. One of our favorite remembrances came from driver, friend, and non-kitchen Rathyna Gomer, who reflected :
“Every time I come here I feel an indescribable sense of peace. It feels so much like home to me. And as I stare at this track, the tire marks that many inspiring drivers have engraved onto the surface, all I can express is sincere gratitude. It has been such a blessing to [experience] this era of drifting so up close. It will forever be in my heart.”
That last TND was a good one, too. Rarely have we seen so many cars come out. And there were some of our favorite pros among the pack, too – 2013 champ Mike Essa in his E46, Justin Pawlak in his Mustang, Odi Bakchis in his S14, and RAD Dan Burkett in his Mk4 Supra. But TND has always been for us a place to just go hang out and waste away a Thursday night with homies old and new. Those homies included a lot of regional up-and-coming talent from the grassroots, am, and pro-am ranks. It also included several of the Formula DRIFT staff, which was the organization that oversaw TND month after month for the last handful of years.
As we head into the last days before the 2017 FD finale, we take a tiny look back at some of the sights from past Thursday Night Drifts. We’re gonna miss this place, we won’t lie. But like Rathyna, we’re also extremely grateful for having the chance to be a part of something bigger at Irwindale. And we’re also excited for the thousands who will be allowed to walk the track one last time after the event. They will get to see and experience the place in an entirely new way, if only for a short time, something we’ve had the distinct honor of doing for the last 15 years. As far as goodbyes go, for the House of Drift, they don’t get much more proper than that.