I have been watching a lot more FD than usual over the past few weeks. The introduction of two new tracks to the series piqued my interest and got me looking through some of my older photos. Little did I know that while I was covering Formula Drift New Jersey in 2019, I would be documenting the last running of FD at the historic Wall Stadium Speedway. Before I dive into some photos and history I need to make a shoutout to the folks that got me in the door for the two years I shot FDNJ. Big thanks to the team over at Maximum Driftcast for believing in me and giving me the chance to shoot for them, you guys continue to kick ass, can’t wait to see you all again ✌️
Over the history of Drift Pizza I have been lucky enough to get to shoot FD two times. Both of these events happened to be at Wall Stadium Speedway, a big reason for this was because of its location to where I lived. I grew up in Bethlehem, PA about an hour and a half from Wall. This meant two things for me, it was an easy trip to stay in town with family and save on lodging and it was also a track I was familiar with from going to races there as a kid.
Wall is well known in the area for its annual “Turkey Derby” which is regarded as one of the toughest short track races in the northeast. I can’t attest to how tough the racing is but I remember always freezing my ass off sitting in the stands watching as I could never seem to dress warm enough for the November chill.
Wall Stadium Speedway as mentioned above is a track with a spotty history and an unknown future to say the least. In 2008 Wall wrapped up the season with a sign out front reading “CLOSED FOR GOOD”. Turns out that wouldn’t necessarily be true, the Turkey Derby was on in November and the track saw a full season of racing again in 2009.
At this point you are probably curious why I am giving you a history lesson on a circle track in the middle of New Jersey. Well there is a good reason, and it has a lot to do with the future of FD and why Wall is no longer on the roster. At the end of the 2019 season, Wall once again made an announcement that they would be closing for good. Lots of speculation arose around reasons why. Was the land to be sold to develop housing, or was there an issue with the neighboring airport? The truth is, I don’t have the answers to this, but from what history shows the closure may not be as sure as the signs made it seem.
Jump to 2020 and FD formally announces its schedule for the season, an old favorite is gone from the lineup. Wall is out and has been replaced with the east coast drift Mecca, Englishtown Raceway Park. While Wall was scaling back, E-Town was ramping up, creating a brand new drift arena based around the unused drag strip turned Copart storage facility. The team at E-Town would reuse the existing grandstands and first few hundred feet of drag strip to create a figure 8 style course, the new home of FD in New Jersey.
We all know how 2020 went and FD never ended up utilizing the new track, pushing the first revamped FDNJ to 2021. I was lucky enough to get to shoot this track later in the year at the Blood Masters Invitational, I am still sitting on those photos, look for them in a future blog post here. But lets circle back to ole faithful Wall Stadium Speedway. Turns out the articles and rumors were wrong, Wall would be back in limited capacity for the 2020 season and seemingly full swing for 2021. I can only speculate, but I have a feeling the unknown future in 2019 prompted the change of heart from FD and lead to Round 4 finding a new home. Either way, drifting is still alive and well in the garden state at both a professional and grassroots level. As long as they are there, I can’t imagine I’ll be that far behind.
I hope you all enjoyed this little history lesson turned FD conspiracy theory. I really loved shooting this event and bumping elbows with photographers and cinematographers I looked up to as an aspiring shooter. Since I shot this event I have seen fellow creators make their way into the FD scene and blow away my expectations. I hope to one day be back in the saddle shooting the big leagues, but until then I’ll keep chasing down new stories at tracks around the country.
If you are interested in reading my official recap of this event you can find it on the Maximum Driftcast site here: THROUGH MY LENS: FDNJ 2019