Geoff Donati's Return to Formula Drift ProSpec

Former Drift Indy photographer and staunch Anti-Instagrammer Nick Quigley was kind enough to sit down with Formula Drift ProSpec driver Geoff Donati for an interview after FD Atlanta came to a close!

Check out some of their conversation and a few of Quigley's amazing photos:

Tell me about your return to FDI don't think it could have come at a better time. I took a couple years off to do adult things and also drive a lot. I probably did over 1,000 laps over the last two seasons in my G, which has definitely helped. One of the big questions I asked myself coming into this weekend was “is that practice going to be relevant – is it going to help me – is the sim going to help, since another thing I was working on was simulator driving. This is the first winter I've driven, albeit on a sim, still doing hundreds of laps versus nothing. There were questions of if I was even going to get a license to come back, because my license expired last year so I had to petition back in. And with the massive amount of drivers that wanted to drive PROSPEC, you know, there were some questions there. Luckily we got back in. Next thing was, am I going to be able to hang? The level of driving has increased, the cars are faster, the builds are crazier, it's just how it progresses. So to be able to come out and qualify sixth in my first round back is amazing and I couldn't ask for anything better.
Geoff Donati in AtlantaWhat made you decide to come back?So actually it was spotting for Cory Talaska. He asked me to spot for him in 2021 and I initially said no, and then he convinced me to come on for round two. I showed up, kind of begrudgingly, but within an hour of being there I just missed all of the vibe and it just kind of came back. This is where I want to be, this makes me happy. At that moment, even though I knew that financially do it or feasibly do it at the time, I immediately started laying the groundwork to come back. Literally a week after that event I picked up the BMW that I'm driving today and that sort of kicked off the two year process.What prompted the change from the S14 to the E46?The S14 was a great car, but as they continue to get older and parts become more scarce for them, like steering racks, and critical components like that, I really wanted to move to a more modern chassis. Even though it's a 2000, the design of that chassis is more thought out. The S-Chassis are kind of tins cans and the suspensions need a lot of modification to work, and even the chassis needs a lot of modification to fit the engines we're running in these cars. The BMW made a lot of sense because it's a proven chassis – pretty much half of PROSPEC is running one now for a reason. They have success in Pro as well with Dylan Hughes and Travis Reeder getting wins with them and Jonathan Hurst doing well in his. It was kind of a no-brainer to me because my philosophy is always, don't reinvent the wheel, just look at what other people are having success with and copy them. There are so many other factors in FD that the last thing you want to mess with is trying something new. The car is amazing and it drives really well. Seat time for seat time at this point in this chassis I'm way more comfortable than I was in the 240. Driving the G in between has taught me a lot as well. I developed some questionable, not necessarily bad habits when driving the S14, but the G being so heavy and floaty and not very powerful teaches you a lot of good thing when chasing people as it punishes all of your mistakes. Getting so many laps in that has helped me here because I'm not driving more precisely because I'm used to not being able to get away with anything.
Geoff Donati's E46
How many of these drivers have you faced?I'd say it's about 30-50% I've driven against before. A lot of the top guys now were just coming into it when I got out of it. Guys like Madison, Brutskiy, Olsen, those are the guys that when I was leaving they were coming in and a lot of the guys that were in my sort of class either moved up or got out of it. It's primarily new drivers that I've never driven against before or ever met. It's a unique challenge as well driving against people I'm not used to.Aiming for Pro?I really really really want a PROSPEC podium. That's sort of my main goal right now is get on that box, whether it's third place or first, I want to be on the podium. That's my high level goal of this campaign. Obviously winning a championship and all that is an easy soundbyte, but realistically being on the podium is where I want to be, even if it's just for a round. And more so just being in the mix. There's always pro aspirations. I think I'm at a place in life where I could complete a pro campaign without having to quit my job which was sort of the thing before because it's eight weeks on the road. That's very limiting for a lot of people. I'm lucky enough to be in a position where that probably would work. Funding is another huge deal there, but with an increase in rounds and budget, you also get more sponsorship opportunities. It's something we're going to look at but definitely don't want to make that jump too early. Even if I had amazing success this year and won the series, it's highly likely I'd be back in PROSPEC to gain more experience. The level in PRO is so much higher than PROSPEC that if you're not absolutely dominating, you'll get spit out in Pro. That's where my head's at with that.