See, the trick to enjoying the car show at Formula DRIFT Long Beach is, unfortunately, to show up early, as early as possible—as in, check out the schedule beforehand (Ugh! Adulting!) and make sure you're there in advance of the race cars firing up with enough time to take a thorough lap of the show. Event organizers repurpose a parking lot just east of the Long Beach Arena for the several dozen hard parkers—the same one used a week later for the IMSA paddock during the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend—and when the FD cars go by, often in pairs, their sound can be deafening, tire smoke a little otherworldly. Don't get us wrong; we feel like a car show at a pro drift event is pretty much a match made in heaven (where else can you find that but at an FD party?) just don't try having a conversation with anyone—you essentially end up yelling at one another over the din of tires squealing, engines singing, etc.
Not unexpected, the FD LB car show brought out a lot of the usual SS fam and their cars from the local SoCal scene, like Kelvin Hsiu and his Mitsubishi Evo IX MR, Julia Phan Yeung and her S14 Nissan 240SX SE, and the mega-hunky Jonny Grunwald and his Mazda RX-8. If you started on the east corner of the lot, you were treated to Jovito La Victoria's Gulf-liveried Evo X and Hector Levario's Honda S2000 neck-breakers posted up side by side, and opposite them on the other end of the lot was an entire row of pro-am drift cars from our friends at MotoIQ's The Drift League, including Meliton Villamor's 2JZ S14, Daryl Priyono's BMW E36, Josh Mason's LS-powered Ford Mustang, and others.
As we neared the end of our orbit, our old friend Big Mike pulled us into the Battle of the Builders Young Guns booth, a regional qualifying program from SEMA that seeks out the best in up and coming car builders across the country for BOTB. Builders 27 and younger are invited to enter the competition, and there are nine qualifier events scheduled for 2019 across the US, including the one that was held in conjunction with the Formula D Long Beach car show; at stake are one "golden ticket," which is basically a full ride to the 2019 SEMA Show for BOTB, and two runners up, who will vie for the opportunity to go to SEMA based on an online competition. Big Mike was there serving as one of the qualifier's regional judges, and was happy to be engaging the next generation of vehicle creators. "It was awesome to be able to work with SEMA as they continue to reach out to the future of our automotive industry and culture - the youth," he told us. "SEMA continues to develop their Young Guns program and being able to judge, answer questions, and provide guidance to up-and-coming builders in this Regional Qualifier was an honor." You can find more info about SEMA's Battle of the Builders Young Guns program here.
Enjoy the photo gallery from the car show—with a tip of the hat to Jonathan Carassco for his stunning photo contributions—and we've still got one more story on the way from Formula DRIFT Long Beach 2019.