BRASELTON, Ga., April 22 - Ryan Hampton, the first professional American auto racer to wholeheartedly tackle the new form of motorsports called drifting, will compete in "Drift Atlanta" this weekend at Road Atlanta Motorsports...
BRASELTON, Ga., April 22 - Ryan Hampton, the first professional American auto racer to wholeheartedly tackle the new form of motorsports called drifting, will compete in "Drift Atlanta" this weekend at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park here.
Hampton, of Chandler, Ariz., became the first driver to lead an Indy Racing League-sanctioned event flag to flag when he won the Infiniti Pro Series race at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis on Aug. 25, 2002. He was also the Sports Racing Prototype II national champion in the Grand American Road Racing Association in 2000 with six victories. He has two podium finishes at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona (2001 and 2002) and he passed his Indy Racing League rookie test with A.J. Foyt Racing, to name just a few of his many auto racing accomplishments.
Drifting is a new form of motorsports in which drivers slide cars at speed and are judged on their car-control techniques, just like ice skaters are judged on their performances. Weight balance is paramount, as they do this while adhering to standard racing lines while maintaining extreme slide angles. Drifting is very popular in Japan, and has been gaining momentum in the United States from its base in California.
Hampton started drifting competitively last year and was immediately a force to be reckoned with, getting into the finals in the American D1 Drifting Driver Search at California's Irwindale Speedway in June before his Crown Victoria suffered mechanical problems. Later last year Hampton finished second in "Drift Day Five" at Irwindale in a Corvette Z06, and was subsequently picked up by the JIC team. (JIC is a leading manufacturer of suspension systems for many import carmakers, and imports are very prominent in drifting.)
That partnership proved to be a winning arrangement, as Hampton brought JIC its first drifting victory when he earned the Hyperfest Drift Championship at California Speedway in July in a Nissan 350Z. He was also featured in "Drift Review 2003," a Drift Association DVD that can be found at various retail outlets around the world.
Hampton is planning to compete for the SCCA's brand-new Formula Drift championship this year, but his JIC factory Mazda RX-8 isn't quite ready yet. Luckily the Circuit City Sony team hired him to drive its Mazda Miata this weekend at Road Atlanta, so Hampton's entry in the Formula Drift season opener will officially be called the Mazdaspeed Circuit City Sony Miata.
Formula Drift final qualifying is slated for 10 a.m. Sunday at Road Atlanta. Round one (sweet 16) is slated for 3:30 p.m.; round two (top eight) is at 4:30 p.m.; the semi-finals are scheduled for 4:45 p.m. and the finals will follow at 5:20 p.m.
As another example of Hampton's influential role in this new form of motorsports, he's also starting his own drifting school to teach professional drifting techniques and concepts. More information on the school will be available on a new Web site at www.driftconcepts.com, which is expected to be launched next month.
Hampton is not new to teaching. He is currently a Drift Association instructor, and he's a former instructor at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving and the Panoz Racing School.
For more information see www.home.earthlink.net/~ryanracer, www.jic-magic.com and www.formuladrift.com.