- “Ride with Dai” is a program developed by Pit+Paddock that allows fans, media, and industry partners a chance to ride shotgun with Dai in his 1,000+hp Subaru BRZ demo car.
- Thanks to our season sponsor Powerstop, we were able to bring the “Ride with Dai” spectacle to three unique stops throughout the year, including this Formula DRIFT round at Utah Motorsports Campus.
- Ride-along winners earned a seat with Dai via our social media contest and in-person raffle and joined a dozen others in the one-in-a-lifetime experience.
There are few professional sports that allow fans to participate in, let alone experience the full-fat, no-holds-barred version. And that’s something that Pit+Paddock has strived to change. From the start, the Ride with Dai ride-along experience has re-purposed Dai Yoshihara’s 1,000 hp Formula DRIFT BRZ pro-car into a one-passenger drift taxi. The program has allowed handfuls of drift fans the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit shotgun with the FD champion as he puts on a show. This year, thanks to our season sponsor Powerstop, Ride with Dai has returned; this time, with a couple of Formula DRIFT stops — Utah and Irwindale — along its country-traversing tour.
There are two things I knew about Utah before coming to the track: it’s where the Jazz play and there’s a pretty underrated song by Band of Horses called “The Great Salt Lake” about, well, exactly that. What nobody prepares you for is the sheer size of the size; to my surprise, it’s the 13th largest by total area. The sheer breadth of the state must have also inspired the track. The Utah Motorsports Campus full course was the longest road racing facility in North America until Thunderhill Raceway Park expanded in 2014 and the generous footprint provided plenty of room for activities for this round of Formula DRIFT. Dai’s ride-along program was the perfect complement, allowing fans who were watching the action an opportunity to jump straight into a pro-spec drift car to experience the competition course first-hand.
FROM GRIP TO SLIP
From the start, it was clear that Yoshihara’s ability to slide hadn’t been affected by his grip racing campaign in TC America. The champ was ready to put on a good show and quickly showed the cheering crowd and his awe-struck drift taxi passengers why he’d earned top honors in the series before. The car was on-song throughout the weekend and it was a good thing that Dai brought a few extra sets of Yokohama tires. By the last ride-along, there was no fresh rubber in sight and only smoke clouds as fading evidence of the onslaught that just occurred.
ALL SMILES AHEAD
The thrill of the ride-along certainly had a lot to do with it, but I think that Utahans (or Utahns in local speak) were genuinely appreciative that we sought the Grantsville, UT stop out for our unique activation. As a Marketing agency based out of Pennsylvania, we can wholeheartedly sympathize with being outside the major market bubble. It’s for that reason alone that our regional Cars+Coffee events often landed adrift (no pun intended) of those cities, too.
Anyway, my point is that these Formula DRIFT fans topped the excitement charts for us, even after many of them had to travel far and wide just to get there. It was almost impossible to catch a photo of them looking any less than ecstatic, even with a helmet on.
ONE MORE SURPRISE
Talking to the spectators let me in on one more interesting nugget of information: many of them were unfamiliar with drifting before coming to the event. As it happened, this was just the “thing” to do for the weekend, but they were quickly converted from casual viewers to fans, especially after getting up close and personal with Dai’s drift machine. It was incredibly refreshing to see that wide-eyed wonder again after I’ve spent nearly 15 years in and around the industry and it was proof to me that motorsport, in various forms, will always have a place in our hearts if we find a forum for it. In other words, if we build it, they will come.
A LASTING IMPRESSION
The spectators weren’t the only ones that left Utah with positive impressions. Once the smoke cleared, it was incredible to take in the campus sights. I’d be willing to bet that it’s one of the most picturesque motorsport venues in the United States. It’s almost as if the facility was built in a basin — it’s surrounded by beautiful mountains on every side — and true to the topography, it allowed motorsport fans to amass for what may be the most epic Ride with Dai chapter we’ve written yet.