Baer Field Speedway, Fort Wayne, Indiana. July 19th 2015
A half mile oval on the southwest side of Fort Wayne. Normally playing host to go-karts, Friday night drags, late model, and stock car races. For the first time, was playing host to something different, drifting. At 11am on the third Sunday in July, the distant rumble of four and six cylinder motors can be heard in between the full throttle (Afterburner hehe) turbine engines of passenger aircraft taking off from the adjacent International Airport.
Organized by local Fort Wayne drift teams, Baer Bash was gearing up to be a great day of hanging out, sliding, and generally having a great time. When Brenden, Brad and I walked through the entrance into the pits we were greeted by Jordan Tippmann and another gentlemen in their BMW E36’s
Over the next hour or so, more people began to roll in and set up their pits. Both the major local Fort Wayne drift teams were present. Team Breaking, represented by Derek Bianski, the King brothers, Derek and Drake, Camden Fox, Anthony Covey, and Del Adam Halter. The other, Late Nite, comprised of Rod Marquez and the events organizer Trey Anglemyer.
A few more random drivers made their way into the pit area behind the back strait of the banked oval course over the next hour. Once the drivers had their fill of exchanging pleasantries and looking over each other’s cars, Trey called a quick drivers meeting to go over the day’s itinerary. After a few minutes discussion a couple of the veteran drivers in the group got into their cars and went out to figure out a course for the day.
After a route was plotted, the drifting commenced. It was nice to see that after they did a couple of runs, most of the guys who have been drifting for a while went back to hang out in the pits or sit up in the bleachers around the track with their family and friends.
Be it because they did it o purpose, or because they were addressing issues with their cars I can’t really say. It did however, allow the newbies more time and more runs on track to work on, and improve their skills. I must say, it was very enjoyable to watch drivers improve throughout the day. From their first laps, exercising caution. To throwing their car into corners and getting a couple of manji’s down the front and back straights. It was a beautiful thing to witness. I didn’t see it in person, but I would like to think that the guys with more experience were giving the greener participants pointers and advice on how to improve their craft.
The three of us spent the next three hours, working our way around the infield, taking photos and cheering on the drivers as the went past on their laps. Sometime in the late afternoon, while watching the guys from Breaking do a couple of tandem laps, I came to realize something. We need more events like this in our local area more often. Not just drift events, all sorts of driving disciplines.
Having more grassroots motorsport events in our local and surrounding area have the potential to greatly affect the growth and prosperity of our car community here in the Mid-West. Sticking with drifting more a moment, think about this. The only events remotely close to the Northeast Indiana area are down in Indianapolis, west in Chicago, or east at Kil-Kare Speedway in Ohio. That’s at least two hours in every direction. Now, if we had more local events like Baer Bash here in the Fort Wayne area, it would benefit the local scene in many ways.
First off it hopefully would keep people from drifting on the streets, breaking their cars, and getting in trouble with the local law enforcement. Even one event a month would suffice. There were probably close to twenty drivers at Baer Bash, and around two hundred more people showed up to watch the drivers strut their stuff out on track. They seemed to be enjoying it too, people were hooting and clapping whenever a driver would have a particularly excellent run out on track. Imagine that two people that attended the event were inspired by watching the local hero’s out on track and decided to purchase and build their own drift car to go to local events. They might be deterred form doing so if they had to drive long distances to learn and grow their skills.
If there were events at a local venue, lets say within a half an hour of their house. More people would be inclined to build their own car to come out and slide.Load their spares and tools into the back of their car and make the short thirty minute drive to the track. If the something unfortunate were to happen, and they broke their car. The drivers wouldn’t be too far from their home and the rest of their spares and tools.
So lets say the next event the amount of drivers and spectators doubles. That’s forty drivers and four hundred spectators. That’s a very large group of people, the venue makes more revenue and the event grows larger. You could organize drift demos between Saturday night circle track sessions to try and drum up interest in the drift event happening the next day. New drivers, teams and spectators could be drawn to the sport. People who might not have thought they would like drifting until they saw it in person. This sort of growth doesn’t happen in the community without support.
If you liked the event, give it exposure. The events aren’t going to attract more people without social media exposure and spread of knowledge trough word of mouth. So, get out there, and blow the trumpet for your local racing events, not just drifting. Autocross, Drags, Track Day, Gymkhana, Shows, and Rallycross. Whatever you are into, get behind it, try your damnedest to help the community grow larger and more positive (nobody likes a hater). Brenden, Brad, and I had a great time at Baer Bash. We three would love to see more events happening at the track in the near future. I think Brenden put it best “I’m burned, burned out, and hungry. That means it was a good day at the track.”
So the moral of the story, support your local racers. Any way you can.
Many thanks to Trey Anglemyer and Baer Field Speedway for putting on a great event. We hope we can come back soon for another day of hanging out and sliding!