Pro-Am this year has been the best show we’ve ever had. A mix of Veteran drivers and New School talent puts both generations at war with one another. The battles that commence on the track are intensifying, and the learning curve is pretty dang high. These drivers have proved themselves by overcoming insane obstacles throughout the season. And at the end of the day four new Formula Drift professional licenses will be going to the drivers with the most points.
Qualifying was Quick but not without incident. An unfortunate upset as Galen Callahan washed wide into the wall, his steering was busted upon impact and the bounce off left him pointing toward the inside of the bank. The speed carried him off track and into the motocross portion of the infield in a dramatic jump and settle. However it would not be the last wreck of the day…
Congrats to Nik Jimenez! He was the number one qualifier and takes an automatic advance to top-8
Top 16 battles included Mike Phillips going up against Donnie Jones. Donnie’s certainly come a long way this season, but unfortunately gets knocked out by the revamped skills and styles of Mike Phillips LS powered S13.4.
Victor Moore is second in points leading up to this round. He would be going up against Tyler Grimsley who struggled with motor issues at the start of the season. However Tyler has been making a strong return with his car in good order, and Tyler even takes a win onto Top 8 After victor spins.
Kelly Thorpe Had a stellar lead run against Nick Jimenez. The corolla is the lowest hp car in the Pro-Am Field but he wrestles it and makes is sing across the bank. Two mistakes on his chase run against Nik Jimenez ended up being the deciding factor for the judges. Nik Advanced on to top 8.
A new Face and relatively unknown driver, Ryan Brown. He definitely ended it rough with a slap against the wall in his battle against Matt Vankirk during Top 16. The Unrelenting bank claimed another new driver, but I hope he returns to slay the beast in proper fashion.
A Fun Pair of drivers to watch. Two V8’s getting gnarly on the bank. Andre Escalante’s only mistake was a bit of overzealous angle coming into the infield. But one heck of a good driver that has a unique style/sound with the heavy hitting iron block v8.
Mitch Johnson is another Pro-Am rookie this year. And his 4door has no problem getting up and close to the 5/8ths wall. A well seated Driver like Kory Keezer made top 16 quite the challenge. Mitch had a great run on the bank but he ran a little to far off line on the infield, giving the advantage and win to Keezer.
The Final battle in top 16 was a old school/ new era dance battle. Erich Hagen vs. Jeremy Richter. Even though underpowered, Erich chases very strongly. A ton of banana on Jeremy coming off the bank and keeps it close all the way through the infield. Erich had a strong chase run but Jeremy was a lot stronger on the bank. A well deserved one more time was given and the drivers returned to the start. De-Ja-Vu on the repeat battle, drivers screaming with skill. It wasn’t until Erich dropped a tire on the inside, that may have been one of the deciding factors in Jeremy’s win into top 8.
Top 8 Battle Breakdown Baby
Nik Jimenez vs. Tyler Grimsley. Tyler is slightly shallow on his lead run while Nik maintains crazy smoke and angle as usual.
Matt Vankirk vs. Michael Klingele Matt Sr20 put the pressure and has no clean air on the heels of Klingele.
Rob Primo vs. Kory Keezer. A loud and insane rematch between these two. With Kory Taking the win by getting just an insane gap on Primo.
Jeremy Richter vs. Mike Phillips. Richter Was riding the wall and had a crazy but had a big correction on the infield. However Phillips too had a minor mistake. So Judges decided on a one more time. In The next heat didn’t last long however. Although Mike Drove strong all day came to a sudden slow stop. So Jeremy Got the win with mikes mechanical failure.
Matt Vankirk has a correction on the bank behind Nik Jimenez’s lead. While in chase, Nick charges hard and has little to no clean air in front of him; so Nik Advances on to the finals while Matt Stays back to battle for 3rd.
Keezer Blasts away from Jeremy Richter during their top four fight. Jeremy succumbs to technical issues and ends up giving the win to Keezer, but still within reach of podium if he can get back to the line against Matt Vankirk. All Seems well as both drivers to the line and head off to battle for 3rd. Jeremy drops the ball and spins on his lead run giving the final podium to Matt Vankirk.
The Final Battle of the Day ended with a bang fireworks. Kory Keezer vs. Nik Jimenez. Two hard charging drivers. In the First run, Kory sacrifices a little bit of angle to keep an exciting chase on Nik, and finishes the run right on his bumper.
Kory’s lead run will go down in history. As He typically rode the bank, this time came in a little too hot, washes out and rides the wall like “sonic the hedgehog”. A front wheel breaks at the spokes and goes flying on its own down the front straight. Nik Jimenez chases the rolling wheel and with a full lock finish, secures his place on top podium for the Final Round of Pro-Am
Along with the top spot in podium. Nik Jimenez, driving with the help of Fiend Performance, Factory 83, Sixteenth letter, and Apexi, takes home the title of 2012 Evergreen Drift Pro-Am Champion And secures his 2013 Formula Drift professional license. Victor Moore, Jeremy Richter, and Rob Primo all get their licenses as well will go on to represent the northwest in the upcoming 2013 Formula Drift season
-Mat “AfroDrift” Risher
Ken Arnold II photography. Griffin Ross. Big Boy Media. Matt Larson photography.
Allways Reckless. Gwag Designs. Blat Blat Pew Pew. Kyle Robertson