At last year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Formula D was able to put on a demo with some of their star drivers to let the general public see what drifting was all about. The demo was such a hit that everyone demanded an event actually take place on the Streets of Long Beach course. Formula D listened and responded by placing their season opener right on the same Grand Prix course.
Even for seasoned drivers the course was tricky, several cars would meet their demise in early qualifying. Speaking of cars, several teams were working hard in the off season producing new cars for competition. One of the biggest surprises (to some) was AEM’s new drift 350Z with Tanner Foust as the pilot. Pushing all the way to the Top 8 in his first event with the car and losing only to Samuel Hubinette, Foust has shown that the AEM 350Z will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
Top 16 competition brought back many of the big names, with the light shining on last year’s Top 3 finishers. Rhys Millen, Samuel Hubinette and Ken Gushi were all seen in their old cars. Millen sported a new paint job and sponsors after his accident at Irwindale last year. In the semi final round, the Top 4 to tear up the track consisted of Millen vs. Yoshihara and Hubinette vs. Gushi. When the smoke cleared, Millen would face fellow friend and drifter, Samuel Hubinette. In the battle of the high horsepower domestics, Hubinette would prevail after Millen made a costly mistake.
Dai Yoshihara would take third place in his Rockstar sponsored S13, representing for the imports. Gushi would place fourth in his Team Toyo sponsored Ford Mustang to start off the season. Look towards an upcoming issue of Modified for more in depth coverage!