Perhaps Long Beach was making up for the partial rainout of last year’s Formula DRIFT season opener, but they came out in masses this year, and almost all toughed it out to the bitter end. For attending, crowds were treated to a fantastic show, and when cars weren’t sliding around Turns 9, 10, and 11 of the Grand Prix street course there was plenty else to see and do away from the bleachers. These events tend to be hubs of car culture as such, and in addition to a vendor area and open paddock to check out the pros at work, FD Long Beach also squeezed in an AutoCon car show.
Just like a typical AC gig, it featured a drive-up stage where the owner of each vehicle presented had a chance to sell judges on their build. We saw Kelvin Hsiu’s EVO IX MR cover car pull onto the dais, and elsewhere spotted Ben Schwartz’s Nissan R32 Skyline GTE and Rene Viniegra’s 1986 Toyota Corolla SR5. Super Street Garage was also hawking apparel, stickers, and other SS-branded tchotchkes at a pop-up shop in the AutoCon area, including a limited-edition Formula D X Super Street t-shirt; we’re not sure if any are left, but if you want one we advise going to SuperStreetGarage.com to see what’s available.
Venturing beyond the car show, we caught sight of Yimi Sport’s time attacking Subaru WRX STI, in all its aerodynamic excess, as well as pro drifter Ryan Tuerck’s internet-breaking Ferrari F136 V8-powered Toyota 86. Three-time Formula D champ Chris Forsberg had his award-winning (and cover gracing) 1975 Datsun 280Z in Long Beach, too.
Finally, a word about our Super Street man-crush RAD Dan Burkett, his RAD Industries team, and their Mk4 Supra – it was not a great professional debut by most standards. While he seemed to get more and more comfortable with the track with each passing practice lap, he wound up qualifying 27th out of 27 on Friday. Then during Saturday morning’s only practice session Dan found the tire barrier on the outside of the entry into the Turn 10 sweeper, a not too uncommon place for guys to wreck. After thrashing to get the car drivable for Top 32, the team faced Matt Coffman in the Coffman Racing S13; in their first lap, with Coffman in the lead, Burkett overcooked it into Turn 9, backing into the outside tire barrier this time. After a five-minute competition timeout to pull off the crumpled cosmetic bits from the Supra’s butt, the pairing went out again with Dan in the lead this time – but by now it was already too late, Dan sitting on a big fat zero from his first lap.
We had sincere hopes Dan would be spending more time on track than in the pits, but that’s racing; he, and the rest of the field, have another seven rounds to even the score. Enjoy our off-track gallery from Formula D Round 1; we’ll have more coverage in the next day or two, and don’t forget to check out our qualifying day gallery ta boot.