For two weeks in the month of April, the streets of downtown Long Beach shut down. Unlike other towns that close their roads for boring parades or festivals, LBC welcomes motorsports. Since ’75, the city has hosted the likes of Formula 1, IndyCar and American Le Mans series, and for the last four years, Formula Drift.
2011 marked the eighth season of Formula D, and Long Beach saw a record number of spectators. About 16,000 fans walked through the gates and nearly 300,000 viewers watched Friday and Saturday’s live webcast from home.
While drifting headlined the weekend, there were plenty of attractions for us to keep up with. Once again, Fatlace teamed up with FD to display some of the sickest cars from the Southwest in the Slammed Society Showcase. The pits were also packed with drivers giving autographs and interviews, rows of vendors and a nic+e collection of West Coast hotties.
But when it came time for the main event, the results were everything but predictable. You might remember Vaughn Gittin Jr. taking the championship in the ’10 season, but the season opener proved to be a different story. Gittin made two costly mistakes in qualifying that forced him to miss the Top 32. With the defending champion out of the mix, drivers were hungry for an early lead in the seven-round series.
There were five rookies in the Top 32 as well as a handful of new cars including Norwegian Fredric Aasbo (’10 rookie of the year) and his Team Need for Speed Scion tC turbo, Chris Forsberg’s fresh 370Z and Matt Power’s revamped S14 with an LS7 powerplant.
In the end, Justin Pawlak killed the field with consistent driving in his Ford Mustang. A close second place was Matt Powers followed by veteran Daijiro Yoshihara in his S13.
For Pawlak, it was his first top podium finish of his career but we all know in this sport, anything can happen. It’s still early in the season and the championship is up for grabs with Atlanta, Palm Beach, Jersey, Vegas and Irwindale just around the corner.