If you’ve never been to Formula Drift, what the hell are you doing with your life? Maybe we’re a little biased, but it’s something everyone should experienceat least once. Where else can you see a pair of high performance cars sliding in tandem at speeds 60+mph only inches from cement walls? We know there are plenty of haters to drifting. It’s not for every car guy, but over the last ten years it’s become a recognized part of American motorsports and continues to gain popularity around the world. And perhaps no other track draws as much excitement and attention than the Streets of Long Beach.
While all the other rounds of Formula D are held on proper road courses, round one takes place in downtown Long Beach just a week before the IndyCar and American Le Mans series. So last April, the ninth season of FD kicked off with a sold out crowd and 60 of the world’s top drifters, which included 19 eager rookies.
The season opener didn’t disappoint us with plenty of epic battles and upsets. In fact, the final two standing was a rematch between last year’s reigning champion Dai Yoshihara against second-place finisher Justin Pawlak. JTP defeated Chris Forsberg and Matt Powers on the way to the finals and eventually knocked Dai on the last match. This is the second consecutive win for JTP at Long Beach but with plenty of superb drivers in the field, it’s going to be a wild season this year.
Other crazy happenings included the introduction of Daigo Saito. A no-namer to many spectators here, but he’s a powerhouse overseas as the ‘11 FD Asia champion and also a former D1GP title holder. After defeating Rhys Millen and Matt Powers in Long Beach, he took third place losing to Dai Yoshihara. Is the Dai versus Dai battle a sign of things to come? We sure hope so!
We’ll have more news from each round but if you haven’t already look up this year’s schedule and get your asses to Formula D!
Slide Guide Who to Watch
The man who needs no introduction. After winning the ’11 championship, he graced our cover and poster in the January issue. He’s back with the same sickass V8-powered Nissan S13 to defend his title.
Rookie of the year? We think so. In fact, Daigo has a good chance to finish towards the top in the overall standings. Coming into the season as last year’s FD Asia champ, Daigo already demonstrated he’s not here to mess around.
Piloting the GReddy/Scion Racing FR-S, Ken’s got a completely new car to learn this year but he’s already off to a good start. As an underdog in the small and unfamiliar FR-S, we expect him to put on a good show this year.
Perhaps no one is as hungry as Justin Pawlak aka JTP. Last year’s runner up by only six points, he’s ready to take the throne this year in his newly-built ’13 Ford Mustang.
The Slammed Society Showcase is an added bonus to FD. When you’re not watching the action, take a spin through the car show to see plenty of stanced rides. For more info, check fatlace.com/showcase to see if it’s comin’ to your hood.
We don’t wish it upon anyone, but nothing gets our blood pressure rising more than the risk these drivers take every time they go on track. We witnessed plenty of small fender benders to a terrible crash by Darren McNamara in his Saturn Sky. Luckily he escaped the crash without a bruise but the fate of the car is to be determined. Don’t try this at home kids!