Chelsea Denofa's 155 MPH Drift Entry at Hyperfest 2019
Yes, you read that right. A 155 mph drift entry. Watch the whole video right now and keep reading to find out how this insane feat was achieved at Hyperfest.
Words aren’t needed to explain just how crazy drifting can be. You’ll understand if you’ve seen it live, and especially so if you’ve gotten to experience it from the passenger seat of a professional drift car at full tilt (which you could’ve at Hyperfest!). But for how crazy it is, it’s often not all that fast.
Often, but not always. We’re not sure when or why it happened, but somewhere along the course of FD pro competition and drift bashing, Nitto Tire/Ford Mustang RTR drivers Chelsea DeNofa and Vaughn Gittin Jr. got it in their heads that a 150 mph drift entry would be a sensible thing to try.
No track on the FD calendar could accommodate such a feat, but with an overall 3.27 miles and two long straights, VIR’s Full Course during Hyperfest weekend seemed like the logical place to try that perfectly sensible, utterly crazy feat.
A little background: Born 18 years ago as a joint initiative between NASA (the race guys, not the space guys) Mid Atlantic regional director Chris Cobetto and U.S. Drift coordinator and Formula D judge Brian Eggert, Hyperfest packs a larger and more diverse assortment of automotive craziness into each of its three-day annual events at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) than anything we’ve seen. We’ll explore it in more detail in a later article, but suffice it to say there’s a ton of awesome drifting that goes on here. Although nothing like this had ever been attempted in its history.
The team traveled north after FD’s Atlanta round to take part in Hyperfest as they normally do (rumor has it VGJ’s been to all 18 Hyperfests!). They added logistical support from Nitto marketing manager Harry Kong and competition analyst and Hall-of-Famer Ron Bergenholtz, as well as Team RTR’s usual assortment of technical aces. Then they got to work.
Their weapon of choice was RTR’s re-wrapped European demo car—the supercharged, 900hp, flat-plane 5.0L Ford Performance Aluminator-powered one, connected to a six-speed sequential gearbox, that VGJ drove at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Nürburgring.
After a few warm-up drift sessions with an impressive group of local and traveling drifters on VIR’s infield Patriot Course, and while NASA racing broke for lunch, it was time to get to work. Behind the wheel, Chelsea screamed down the straight in all six gears, pegging redline around the final Turn 18, before pulling the hand brake.
For what seemed like a full seven or eight seconds, the car slid sideways with its rear Nitto NT555 G2s locked, before erupting in a fury of smoke around Turn 1, and then returning home. In-car data and on-site radar guns showed the car maxing out shy of 150 mph at the top of sixth gear prior to initiation, so the RTR crew swapped its rear differential for one with a taller gear-set.
After a few more nerve-wrecking and adrenaline laced attempts at the end of the racing day (and in front of a larger crowd), it was official: A 154.66 mph drift was initiated (and survived), a cake was ordered and celebrations were had by all.
Lots More Drifting
While VIR’s Full Course hosted a solid three days of racing and its unpaved areas hosted the NASA Pro Rally, off-road rock crawling and trail riding (more on all that coming soon), drifting never seemed to stop on VIR’s infield Patriot Course from morning until night, for all three days of Hyperfest.
Past years have hosted U.S. Drift pro-am competition rounds and tournaments, but this year the format was simple: Drifters with qualifying machines just had to show up, set up in the pits, pay the modest dues and shred all day, every day. No competition this time, just lots of fun drift bashing.
Talented locals ruled the track, but traveling vets and newcomers warmed up nicely, handling its downhill entry, switchbacks and esses mostly with ease.
Interspersed with the drift bashing were sessions for pro demos and ride-alongs, headlined by VGJ and Chelsea, along with Dirk Stratton and Austin Meeks.
Providing Pro 2 support were BMW reppers Donovan Brockway in an awesome new twin-turbo V8-powered M2 and Branden Sorensen in M3 shared with his sister Amanda …
… two more Bimmers from AJ Muss (E46) and Kenric Meyer (E36) …
…as well as Brandon McDowell and YouTuber Adam LZ with Nissan support—Brandon in his 350Z and Adam in either his 2JZ-powered S15 Silvia or SR20 S13 fastback.
But Wait! There’s More (To Come)
With wheel-to-wheel NASA racing, Tire Rack’s Ultimate Track Car Challenge, NASA Pro Rally, tons of off-roading, even more music, a burnout contest, vendors, a show, and even some lawnmower racing and a brutal Big Wheels race (yes, the plastic child’s toy), Hyperfest is simply too big to cover in one article. Stay tuned for all the rest, very soon. In the meantime, you can learn more about Hyperfest, RTR and Nitto.