Super Drift Championship 2020 USA Finals at Super-G R/C Drift Arena in Baldwin Park, CA
This past weekend Super-G hosted the Super Drift Championship 2020 USA Finals at our new facility here in Baldwin Park, CA. As we all know, 2020 has thrown us all curveball after curveball, but most of us are just trying to make the best of it. With all the lockdowns and closures being extended and everything being so uncertain, we thought 2020 was just a loss for the SDC2020. Suddenly we started seeing various regions hosting their regionals and working towards the finals, and we knew we needed to make it happen. The passion in the R/C Drift Community is strong!
Competitors from all over the US met under one roof to compete and find out who really is the best the US has to offer. It was clear everyone brought their A game with them to throw down with the best of the best. Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Missouri, Michigan, and of course California all had their Regional Champions present to show what they had.
The official first day was open practice and also our Special Qualifying Round for those who did not get to pre-qualifying in their respective region. Most obvious was how the drift community, no matter where they reside, are really the same type of people. People who are passionate about their hobby, and genuinely enjoy sharing the hobby with other enthusiasts. I have noticed the one big difference between the R/C Drift Community and we’ll say the R/C Racing community, everyone wants to help everyone do better. It just makes for a better environment. I made me wish the weekend was going to be longer since I was able to put faces to the names I see online on a daily. Being one of the people throwing the event, I had very little time to sit and visit with everyone. For Joe and myself, it was just an ongoing task of putting out fires the entire weekend.
The sessions both before and after the SQR were nothing short of amazing! With all the skills in the house, it was a normal sight to see 15+ car trains forming at any given time. It made for some serious driving and a ton of fun!
Special Qualifying Round (SQR)
The Special Qualifying Round was designed to accommodate those who did not have a region they could compete in, or did not meet the requirements to qualify for the Finals. We lowered the requirements due to various changes 2020 brought with it. For the SQR each competitor was given 2 chances on Friday to put down a qualifying score, and an additional 2 chances on Saturday before the competition started, giving them the chance to participate. We had 4 of the 5 additional competitors qualify for the Finals!
The Super Drift Championship 2020 USA Finals were underway. We had a solid 4 hours of practice and clearly everyone had figured out their tune for the competition later that evening. Everyone was busy getting that last minute practice in, and breaking in their tires. Again we saw some great driving going on.
We were unsure of what type of turnout we would have for the Finals with all the uncertainty of this year. We chose to not do a pre-registration as we have done this in the past with little to no success. Next season we will definitely be having pre-registration to keep the surprises to a minimum. We had 50+ competitors which was amazing to us. Proof R/C Drift is strong in the US.
For this event Nick Lepisto and Manny Campalans performed Tech for all the competing chassis. Going over and taking measurements of 50+ chassis is no easy task, but Nick and Manny were up to the challenge. They paid extra close attention to the condition of the tires to make sure there was no strange wear on them. The Spec Tire for the Super Drift Championship 2020 USA Finals was the DS Racing FFFF Zero Mark II. A huge thank you to DS Racing for providing us with the spec tires with the Super Drift Championship logo on the sidewall! Tech was intense, so we all need to give thanks to Nick and Manny for stepping up and making it happen for all of us.
One of the most important aspects of the Super Drift Championship Series is the judges. Shaine Collins and Manny Campalans along with myself would be the judges for the event. I have the highest level of confidence in both Shaine and Manny as we have judged literally hundreds of battles together. It was a long competition and is mentally draining being judges. The level of concentration is immense, so we all owe Shaine and Manny a big round of thanks!
Side Note – The judges here at Super-G rarely need to make “judgement calls”. Since we utilize the Super-G Replay System, the judges are simply the ones who have a firm understanding of the rules, and give the official ruling. Any call that can be questionable, the replay is used to confirm the correct call will be made while abiding by the Official Super Drift Championship Rules.
Saturday we started out with the last of the SQR. Of the 5, 2 had previously qualified. We added another 2 for a total of 4 of the 5 qualifying for the Finals. We went straight into the qualifying. For qualifying, the judges carefully watched for control and consistency to determine which competitors would compete in Sportsman or Expert Class. The winner of Sportsman would advance to the last spot in Expert for a chance at the title of Super Drift Championship 2020 USA Drift King!
We were lucky to have a Special Guest Judge for Qualifying. Professional Formula D Driver, Justin JTP Pawlak was our judge for the style aspect of the qualifying. If you have ever seen JTP drive, you know he’s the perfect guy for the job! Thank you Justin for coming out and judging, and also displaying your demo car. It was an honor to have you judging at a Super-G event!
The qualifying line was a little difficult to many, but being the Finals with the best of the best, it was to be expected. The first clipping zone was at the start of the sweeper at the end of the first straight. Excellent speed, timing, and full commitment was needed to fill the zone completely. The last clipping zone was located at the end of another straight just before the finish line. Again, excellent line, speed, timing, and commitment was needed to fill this zone completely. Of the 50+ drivers a good handful were able to nail these zones, but one stood above the rest for their qualifying runs. Colby Bradley (Team Zenshin) nailed his qualifying runs and easily locked down TQ (Top Qualifier) for the Finals! Congratulations Colby for putting down an amazing run!
We started out with the Sportsman Class. There was some really good driving going on! It all came down to Adriano Vengoechea vs. Alex Maas for 3rd and 4th Place, and Jaxsen Pawlak vs. David Wessel for 1st and 2nd Place. First up was Adriano vs. Alex. Adriano was able to hold it down and land himself 3rd Place! Then it was Jaxsen vs. David for 1st and 2nd Place. Jaxsen was able to put it down and secure 1st place and also move into the Expert Class to battle it out for the title. David secured a respectable 2nd Place finish!
Congratulations to the winners, First Place – Jaxsen Pawlak, Second Place – David Wessel, and Third Place – Adriano Vengoechea! Great job all of you!
For those who are wondering, Jaxsen is JTP’s 8 year old son and had competed in Round 1 of the SoCal Regional. We have seen him a couple times between then and now and he needed to qualify in the Special Qualifying Round to be in the Finals. He laid down an amazing run in the SQR, but had some issues in the Official Qualifier which landed him in Sportsman Class. He battled from the bottom of the Sportsman Class brackets to First Place and into the Expert Class! We expect to see great things from Jaxsen!
Now it was time for the Main Event! Super Drift Championship 2020 Finals! The road of the US Drift King ends right here! With 50+ drivers, the competition promised to be intense. This was the best R/C Drift in the US has to offer for 2020!
After a long competition, it all came down to Zerek Fewell (Slide Ti) vs. Hao Huang (Team Wallride) for 3rd and 4th Place, and Mikko Yang (Team ReveD / Team D-Style) vs. Chris Lagasca (Limited Traction) for 1st and 2nd Place.
First up, Hao vs. Zerek. Hao leading and Zerek chasing. Into the sweeper, Zerek had a problem and spins out earning a zero for his chase. Next was Zerek leading and Hao chasing. Hao was having a great chase then on the final turn went wide and contacted the wall earning them a OMT (One More Time). On the OMT runs, Hao’s lead was great with Zerek keeping decent proximity. Then it was down to Zerek’s lead and Hao’s chase. Zerek’s lead was a bit off line compared to Hao’s, and Hao put down a chase that was incredibly close! It was an exciting way to round out the battle for 3rd and 4th Place! Hao clearly won with a better lead and better chase this time around giving him the 3rd spot on the podium!
However, Zerek contested the judges call, as he indicated Hao had made contact with his car on 3 occasions with so much impact it had pushed him off line. All 3 judges were absolutely certain there was no contact made. If it were not for the Super-G Replay System, this situation would have gone down in history as a very controversial call. Zerek and his friends insisting there was 3 points of contact made, while the judges were certain there was not.
Note – The importance of making the correct call vs. just simply going to a OMT is monumental. If someone rightfully earns a win, but someone wrongly contests the call and forces a OMT, if the winner rightfully earned the win, they can potentially be robbed of a legitimate win, or be forced to earn the win twice. For some, this may be the one and only time they have earned a win. It can possibly be a once in a lifetime event. This is not a situation we take lightly.
So of course the judges needed to refer back to the Super-G Replay System to review their call. In doing so, the entire audience would also be able to review exactly as the judges were. After all was said and done, and carefully reviewing each point where Zerek claimed there was contact, there was indeed space between the cars, no contact was made. The call stands, and Hao took the well deserved 3rd Place on the podium!
Then it was time for what we were all here for, the battle for 1st and 2nd, and the title of Super Drift Championship 2020 USA Drift King! It was Mikko vs. Chris. Both are no strangers to the podium or the competition setting. Everyone present knew either one could pull this off. First was Mikko on the lead and Chris on the chase. Mikko puts down one of the better lead runs of the night. It was clear he meant business and he was so close he could taste it. Chris put down a really good chase. Obviously Chris wanted it just as badly. Then it was down the the final run, Chris on the lead, Mikko on the chase! Chris pulls of an awesome lead, but Mikko wasn’t about to be outdone. Mikko throws down as close to a perfect chase as possible, clearly earning him the Top Podium Spot and the title of Super Drift Championship 2020 USA Drift King! Chris secured a hard fought for 2nd Place, and Hao taking home 3rd!
Congratulations to Hao Huang of Team Wall Ride, (3rd), Chris Lagasca of Limited Traction (2nd), and Mikko Yang of Team ReveD and Team D-Style – The first Super Drift Championship USA Drift King!!! These are the Top Guns of the US for 2020!!!
Most of all, thank you to each and every one of you who supported and participated in the Super Drift Championship 2020 Series! Without your support, this could have never happened. 2020 has been a year of craziness and uncertainty, but the R/C Drift Community has stood strong. Here at Super-G have been struggling along, but trying to keep things positive as is our motto, and regardless of circumstances, trying to keep pushing forward. We had all but given up on the 2020 series, but when we started to see regions pick up again and work toward the finals, we knew we couldn’t let the community down. With the short notice and many companies having a hard time with shipping and stock, many who wanted to sponsor just could not get the product in our hands in time. 2021 promises to be better. Again, thank you all.