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Formula D Long Beach Media Day 2019

Pro drifting in America awakens from its winter slumber for a content free-for-all to build buzz ahead of series opener this weekend

Apr 3, 2019
Photographer: Leslie Clemens

Truth is, the "Media Day" we attend each year in advance of the Formula DRIFT season kickoff is actually not just for the professional drifting series, but also for the non-oversteering championships that will be competing the weekend after FD in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (formerly the Toyota GP of LB). So when you get to the street circuit first thing for the press-only event, one of the things you'll notice is the "non-drift" cars on the other side of the race car paddock—from IMSA, and probably some other series, but we couldn't be bothered. Compared to the 1,000-hp FD Pro machines sitting across the lot from them, cars that wail and screech and bang off the limiter and slide and scrape (and sometimes punch) walls and get all kinds of gnarly—obviously our attention was hyper-focused on them.

FD long beach media day 2019 86 370Z Photo 2/80   |   FD Long Beach Media Day 2019 86 370Z

There were about a dozen or so pros from Formula D at Media Day helping develop story lines for the upcoming first round, showcasing new liveries and in one case a new car with an entirely new way of motivation in the sport—electricity. Napoleon Motorsports showed up with their all-electric Chevy Camaro, and announced weeks ago Pro 2 champ Travis Reeder would be driving the thing this season in Pro, suggesting these guys are indeed serious about running an EV. The car didn't turn any laps on Media Day (we're not even 100-percent sure it's legal by the FD rulebook), and while we generally don't report on domestic vehicles, everyone at the event had to go in for a closer look at the big red box under the "muscle car's" hood.

Our unhealthy crush RAD Dan Burkett and Forrest Wang had our favorite new looks of Media Day, Burkett's wife Renee (who designs liveries for Dan) adding some pops of color to the historically blue Toyota MkIV Supra, and Wang opting for a mainly metallic magenta wrap complemented by the green he had last year. 2013 champ Mike Essa also had an entirely new look for his BMW E46, while three-time champ Chris Forsberg, his "Drift This" bud Ryan Tuerck, and 2011 champ Dai Yoshihara all had minor updated cosmetics. The rest—reigning champ James Deane, his teammate Piotr Wiecek, Dean Kearney, Ken Gushi, Jhonnattan Castro, Odi Bakchis, Matt Field, Justin Pawlak, Vaughn Gittin, and Chelsea DeNofa—all appeared to have the same liveries (or pretty dang close to it) as 2018.

The thing that made us most happy at Media Day was seeing Pat Goodin again at a Formula DRIFT affair. The driver has always been extremely likable, and when he had to leave the series after 2017 our hearts broke a little bit, so we were beyond thrilled when it was announced he'd be returning and driving Field's Drift Cave S14. Goodin didn't take any laps, because for one the car isn't quite finished yet, but his addition to the FD season should make it a fun one.

More photos from Media Day are in the gallery, and expect lots more coverage and content coming out of Formula DRIFT Long Beach from us this weekend.

Bob Hernandez
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