Last weekend was the Formula Drift Finals in Irwindale, Calif.
I was invited to attend by Falken Tire – one of my clients who I’ve done a lot of race work for this year. I actually hadn’t shot Drift in a couple years; not since my days handling K&N Filters photography when I was on staff with them. So I jumped at the opportunity to go out and shoot a bunch of new images as well as hang out with my friends on the Falken staff.

It’s funny that after living right next to Irwindale for two years and never doing any shooting there that I would have the chance to do so right after moving to San Diego for the remainder of the year.
I was able to stay with friends in OC, so it was just a brief trip right up 605 to get to the races.

I didn’t shoot this event the same way that I cover Le Mans. So unfortunately I do not have a bunch of behind the scenes photos and stories for everyone like I usually would. Since I was a guest of Falken rather than there working I did my best to stay out of the way as much as possible.
So, scroll down after the break and check out shots mostly from the track of the various teams ripping through the turns and destroying their tires for sport.

June, Rommel, and me goofing off during practice on Friday.
And yes, I do actually wear a scarf when I shoot Drift. I’m not about to breath in tire smoke for hours and hours.

Rommel, trying out my 1D since I was pretty much there screwing around that weekend and figured he may want to try something faster for a few laps.
And yes, that IS a Canon and L-Series lens tattoo down his forearm.

Chris is now in a 370Z unlike the 350Z he was driving last time I was at Drift

I really wanted to get updated shots of Vaughn’s Monster Energy Falken Mustang

Cale and Qazi on the roof getting video

Rhys, destroying tires in his Hyundai…. if all Hyundais could do this I bet they would sell a ton more

The next started out fairly slow for me. I stopped by the booth to see the girls. Melanie and Olivia had a MASSIVE line to get autographs. I just cut right to the front to get a photo and of course say hi.
Yep… I’m that guy that girls got up for and said hi to while everyone else had to wait in line. lol : )

Julie caught me snappin a shot. Randyl was distracted by the guy behind me asking a question

Falken photographer Jesse gettin images for social media… any of you guys catch this one on their fan page last weekend?

I was stoked to get a lot of great shots of Vaughn’s new Mustang. I love the black/green color scheme

This wall claimed a LOT of people over the weekend. And as a photographer we really did have a front row view to the carnage.

Blu808 was in town from the Bay Area with their Corvette

Love this shot of Dai

Melanie and Olivia came out to the track during trials to support all the Falken drivers that were there.

But in between cars no one was safe from joking around… not even Martin who was oblivious to the girls as he was half-asleep sipping his drink.

Whew… JUST the bumper

Having fun chatting with Melanie and Olivia. Gonna miss seeing these girls at the races like I have all year with Falken

Mostly because silly face photos are the best and my collection won’t be the same now

The worst part of coming to a stop by the media area is that everyone feels the need to take a TON of photos… I actually only took this one, just so I could make this comment in my blog. haha!

Back at the Falken rig it was giveaway time. But there was also a dance off going on. This is actually a shot of all the Falken girls looking on in horror as a 20 year old girl was shaking her ass on a boy who couldn’t have been more than 13. Seriously, it was wrong. And people wonder why youth is so messed up. The Falken crew put a fairly quick end to that though by changing songs and starting the giveaway.

After the giveaway Martin got out into the crowd and got everyone dancing again. If you wanted one of the new Mustang 5.0 hats, you had to dance!

Olivia came out and joined once Gangnam Style came on!

Olivia got a ton of cheers, cuz let’s be honest, she’s way hot AND was dancing


Still dancing and cheering!

Back out in the crowd Martin was still breaking it down, this time to Michael Jackson.

One hat left! Who’s going to dance with Martin for it?!

“Hey this is dancing, not gymnastics!” -Martin

The crowd starts to die down a bit later as people have started to make their way into the stadium

As I’m walking toward the entrance Melanie, Julie, and Randyl pass by me as Martin drives them into the stadium. The fun part is that I get all the smiles and waves when taking a shot of the girls rollin by

I know we all have our own style to shooting/etc… but my pro-tip would be don’t use filters at night for racing when you’re already fighting low-light and fast moving objects

It didn’t take long in the Top 16 before that same wall started claiming car parts, and then entire cars…


There’s a small part of me that to this day STILL looks at my race photos and thinks “oh good, the K&N logo is clear and sharp.”


This is my LEAST favorite thing about Drift… GoPro overkill. There are 10 cameras on this car

Well look at that! I know BlackTrax from the Bay Area

The Falken Girls on the track waiting to join the Falken cars on the grid

Jesse and Cale finishing out the night in the photo area near the start/finish line. I’m pretty sure they had everything they needed at this point other than the finish/end of event images/video

This is one of the four photographer areas on the track

So, you can see a bit of what we see down in this area

Ha! Melanie and Julie describing how creepy fans grab and hold them when they take photos with them at events.

I of course still had to get a photos with all the girls before leaving that night!

I was stoked to catch Vaughn on my way out! I haven’t seen him since I worked for K&N and wanted to get a quick shot with him; he obliged.


Overall I had a great time at Drift and it was fun to be back out there with everyone and getting some new images for my portfolio, blog and website. I’m going to have to narrow everything to maybe 10 or so for my online portfolio.

As for me, tomorrow I’m going to be packing up and preparing for my trip to Atlanta on Thursday. I’m heading out to shoot Petit Le Mans with Falken. This is my last event of the year with the Falken team and I’m really looking forward to finishing strong.
I have a DX and 400mm in my arsenal of gear for this weekend – so come back in a week for some rocking shots of the Falken Porsche GT3 RSR!

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