Hey, all you racing fans! A month ago, pro drift and rally racer Tanner Foust put out a challenge to find the fastest racer in the US. Thousands answered the call, but only one rode away with the prize, a trip to Formula Drift’s premier event, the Red Bull Drifting World Championship to meet Tanner Foust.
Taking home the glory and fame this time around was Gregory Russell, who posted the best lap time in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue’s online race mode, pushing the Nissan 350Z around the London city track faster than anyone else in the United States. He finished with a lap time of a mere 1’00.711 seconds. Competition was tight, however, with the top times separated by a mere tenth of a second. These are the true, dedicated race fans right here.
As the grand prize winner, Gregory was flown from Maryland out to the Port of Long Beach to attend the Red Bull Drifting World Championship, where the skies were cloudy with smoke from the southern California fires as well as the smoke coming off the tires from 32 of the world’s top drift racers there to compete. Ultimately Tanner, the 2008 US Formula Drift Champion, went on to win 3rd place overall, out of 32 drivers including 17 past and present drifting champions from around the world.
Not only did Gregory get to cheer Tanner on from the VIP section, he also got VIP access to Tanner. On Saturday, during the pre-qualifying open practice session, Gregory rode shotgun in Tanner’s drift car, a Nissan 350Z, for two complete practice laps at full speed. And by full speed, I mean Tanner was hitting the first corner at 100 when he initiated his drift for the long first corner, hugging the wall and powering through all of the turns, leaving plumes of tire smoke in his wake.
On Saturday afternoon, Gregory also got a chance to go head to head with Tanner on board the PlayStation Experience Truck. After Tanner took on the local winners from the race competitions on the truck, Gregory and Tanner put the pedal to the metal as they raced BMW M3s around the demanding London city track course. Tanner ultimately won the race, but Gregory put up a good fight considering who he was going up against. Afterwards, Tanner presented the rest of Gregory’s prize, which included a GT hat, a signed copy of the GT5P (plus MotorStorm: Pacific Rift), and two cool limited edition Gran Turismo jackets (thermal and rain) from Nike. Read more about Gregory’s experience here on Gran Turismo forums.
There was only one grand prize winner, but coming in second place in the online contest was Brian Johnston from Georgia, a big fan of Gran Turismo. Brian is a college freshman studying engineering, and has been playing Gran Turismo since Gran Turismo 2 on the original PlayStation. Coming in at 3rd place was Kevin Bruner, a 45-year-old native of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin is also an active member of the Gran Turismo forums, and has been a racing fan since childhood. Kevin owns and has finished all of the Gran Turismo titles to 100% completion with all gold licenses. Both Brian and Kevin will receive a copy of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue signed by Tanner Foust, a signed GT5P poster, and a Gran Turismo T-shirt and hat.
Honorable mentions in the event go to Brett Miller and Tim Bambu. Tim is from Florida and is an aspiring race car driver, attending and teaching at the International Motorsports Academy and competing in various kart series races in Florida. He also plans on majoring in Mechanical Engineering and will be involved in a special university program that builds a race car every year as part of a national competition.
You can catch them all racing online in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, but you’ll need some pretty good luck to actually catch up to them during the races, as they have proven themselves to be some of the fastest players in the US.