Ah, finally! Spring is in the air, birds are chirping, the weather is ripe and tires have begun shredding as Formula D kicks off its 10th anniversary season with another sold-out show for Round 1 in the infamous streets of downtown Long Beach. Aside from the massive crowd in attendance for the season opener, the Southern California community came out strong with a huge turnout for the vender village, Slammed Society show and Targa Trophy display featuring some of the regions most innovative products and upcoming builds for the 2013 season.
Make no mistake; though a classic, well-known course, the streets of Long Beach never fail to lack on excitement. With the usual, short, three-turn course, and relentless wall-to-wall barriers throughout, drivers were forced to dial in a perfect combination of speed and precision in order to accurately navigate themselves to the podium, as the smallest error would result in an immediate setback for the season. To push the qualifying thrills just a bit further, Formula Drift has instated a new “knockout” style rule for the 2013 season. Basically, this new rule pushes drivers to go all in on their first run, rather than a conservative approach, allowing them to secure a position in the top 16 while the remaining drivers fight for their shot at glory amongst the remaining open slots.
With a total of 60 drivers present, the competition quickly dwindled down to veteran champions Chris Forsberg, Vaughn Gittin Jr., and Daijiro Yoshihara battling for the podium, as experience instantly became the advantage. While 2009 Champion Chris Forsberg and his NOS Energy/Hankook Nissan 370Z skimmed by Chelsea DeNofa to secure 3rd place by just four points, first place qualifier Dai and 2010 champion Vaughn Gittin and his Ford Falken Mustang duked it out for silver and gold. Yet, after just a small mistake by Gittin on the 3rd turn of the first round, Dai was able to remain consistent throughout and skate away with the first win of the season. With only 1 round down and 6 to go, the competition is literally just heating up, and the title is still out for grabs. Stay tuned drift fans and see you in Atlanta for Round 2!
Words Sam Du Photos Jofel Tolosa
Two weeks prior to Long Beach, we hosted Formula D’s annual tech day. The reason for tech day is quite simple: teams need to have their shit together, meaning their cars have to be inspected by staff to ensure everything is safe and legit for game day. The inspection took place at our Orange County office and many cars showed up like reigning champ, Daigo Saito’s SC430, as well as Toshi Yoshioka’s new Tomei-powered BRZ and Tako Aono’s AE86 Corolla. But to get our readers pumped up for FD, we also organized a casual car meet at the same time and gave away a stack of tickets to Long Beach. To our surprise, our casual little meet turned into a 700+ car invasion. We can’t complain and plan to do it up big again next year.
So how far has drifting gone in the last decade? It’s not just big in Asia, Europe and the US anymore but it’s becoming popular in Latin America, too. Yes, we were caught off guard just as much as you, but then Formula D Panama representative Tony Mock invited us to check out his event a couple weeks after Long Beach. We couldn’t say no!
FD Panama doesn’t use your typical drifting format. It’s an exhibition to get the locals excited and aware about the sport and it’s proven to be successful as Tony tells us the event has grown every year with more and more attendance and media coverage.
This year marked the fifth Panama event and it was nothing short of spectacular. Pro drivers Justin Pawlak, Matt Powers, Joon Maeng and Odi Bakchis gave incredible demos which included ride-alongs as well as quad-tandem drifts—something we’d never see stateside at Formula D.
Plans for next year’s FD Panama is looking even better with the grand opening of the country’s first road course set to take place. And who knows, maybe one day there will be a Latin American drift series coming our way. Fingers crossed!