Drifting hit the Streets of Long Beach this past weekend – kicking off what is shaping up to be another exciting season of side-by-side automotive mayhem. The standing room only crowd at the first Formula D event of the season was left in awe from some of the most outstanding tandem battles we’ve seen to date in any US series. The start of the FD season brought change for many teams, with sponsors switching up some of their drivers and cars to better position themselves for the new season. Chris Forsberg’s Titan-powered 350Z is now wearing bright orange Maxxis Tires trim, while fellow Drift Alliance member Ryan Hampton decided to forgo last season’s ’67 Camaro in favor of McKinney Motorsport’s yellow S13 hatch. Rhys Millen and Sam Hubinette campaigned their “new for ’07” Red Bull Pontiac Solstice GXP and Mopar BFGoodrich Charger SRT8, respectively, after months of tweaking and tuning since their December debut at Irwindale Speedway. Teaming up with Hubinette this season is also Chris Cook, who some may remember from last year’s combined D1GP/NASCAR event – now piloting Sam’s 2006 championship winning SRT10 Dodge Viper.
Rhys and Sam, however, along with many other top US drivers including Tanner Foust and Vaughn Gitten Jr., were ultimately ousted by the amazing performance of Falken’s own Mitsuru Haruguchi, whose S13.5 slider inched by clipping points and slid its way into first place. Haraguchi didn’t have it too easy on the way to the top, however, as strong performances from both Foust and Gitten Jr. heading into the top eight left little room for error.
While the crowd had plenty of action to follow on track, there was the usual assortment of show cars, vendors, umbrella girls, and RC drift cars that kept spectators busy during breaks in the action. Not that there was too much time to survey everything, as FD squeezed the top 16 battle in just before Long Beach’s noise restriction bylaws came into play. Look for a full breakdown of the top 16 as well as m ore insider info and predictions for Road Atlanta in an upcoming issue of Modified Mag!