2010 Formula Drift Streets of Long Beach – Main Event
Ah, Spring. To some it’s the time of year when the leaves change, birds sing, people search for love and soon-to-be-boring couples take long walks under pretty trees.Not to me. To me it means the return of one of the best series of my favorite motorsport. The return of Formula DRIFT. Formula DRIFT opened on the Streets of Long Beach on April 10th, and as WuTang used to say, it made a ruckus. As I walked along a narrow street lined with high buildings, hoards of fans had already started showing up. Conversations about who was driving, who should win, dream cars, companies, planned purchases, etc were all cut short by the sound of Samuel Hubinette, who was apparently making sure his 865hp Dodge Challenger was running well. The sound of that engine bouncing off the concrete offices of LB were a hint at what the day was going to hold. It was going to be a good, loud time.
And so it was. If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending a professional drifting event, find the event nearest to you and make the trip. The sport of drifting seems to be based entirely on having fun. Yes you can go around that corner way faster if you brake late, hit the apex, never break traction, and gently apply the throttle at the right moment, but when you would sneak your parents car out at night, it was rarely to and practice trail-braking. I would drive 2 miles up a road, just to have an excuse to find my favorite dirt lot to turn around in. And I never just “turned around.”
The Formula D event in Long Beach felt like that; fun. Walking through the main gates you are immediately in the paddock area. There’s no high-falootin’ Pit Pass needed, all the teams, cars, drivers and girls are right there. We spent 10 minutes just chatting with Full Tilt Poker driver Joon Maeng. Vendors, drivers, cars and models were everywhere. Past there were the grandstands, giving a great view of turns 1 through 4. These seats were slightly more money than the general admission tickets, but it’s worth the small increase in price. From this area I was able to see the entire track. More importantly, you get to see the battle from start to finish. From that first turn you watched the cars chase one another, throwing smoke, bashing taillights (several cars kissed several walls), and hitting fuel cutoff.
With the kind of action the drivers brought on Saturday, you want the best view you can get. Starting from a grid of 32 high-power machines, the day was filled with perfect and fiberglass-shatteringly-flawed runs alike. One moment you saw Tanner Foust give a lecture on how to drive the course, and the next minute an S15 Silvia was dragging it’s wing along the wall, delaminating the fiberglass without upsetting the car. My favorite was Ryan Tuerck putting the tail of his Mobil 1 Pontiac Solstice into the wall so hard than it crushed the trunk, letting the spinning rear tire make contact and paint wall with rubber.
The most amazing story was that of Frederic Aasbo. He was somewhat an unknown here, although he’s a two-time Nordic drifting champion, and competes in Europe and North America. Driving a Japan Auto Toyota Supra he used incredibly fast and aggressive transitions to wow the crowd and upset 2009 Formula D champion Chris Forsberg, advancing all the way to the second-place round against Foust. He lost to Foust, but this guy is a force to be reckoned with. (Check out Aasbo practicing at Willow Springs)
The rest of the day played like a movie. 3 of the top 4 spots were former champions: Rhys Millen against Vaughn Gittin Jr. for 1st and 2nd, and Tanner Foust and Frederic Aasbo fighting for 3rd. It was like Reggie Bush at the Super Bowl against the very best veterans, and just made the day that much more exciting. In the end Vaughn Gittin Jr drove a perfect line, while Rhys hiccuped into the tire wall. Gittin sits atop the leader board, but it seems like all the guys that had new cars last year have figured out how to work them, Rhys especially. (You’ll find the full list of finishes below.)
Next door to all that action was the car show. It was a smaller show than the XDC event, but that’s because it was in a separate area from the paddock area. There was a very diverse selection of cars there, my personal favorite being the 1969 Skyline GTR. I gave it a special “thank you” for it’s role in allowing the R32,33, 34, and 35 to have existed on my planet. With this show, the paddock area and the great viewing areas, the 2010 Formula D at Long Beach was an all-around great event. The atmosphere was lively, friendly and fun.
I was really happy about the diversity of the crowd. From car clubs and hooligans to families of four, every demographic came out in force, indicative of the growing interest in this sport. I think the combination of fast action, driving on the edge, and a short race day makes it an exciting sport for anyone to watch. Your mom may not want to sit through a 40-lap Formula 1 race, but she’ll probably find 80mph slides entertaining…as long as she’s not in the car.
And why not? As I said before, drifting-while competitive and difficult-is just fun. What other motorsport lets you do donuts while you’re waiting for your turn at the line? The kickoff to the 2010 Formula D Season was exactly what I had hoped for. With events like these, I think we’re only going to see the sport continue to grow.
|Formula DRIFT Professional Championship 2010 Point Standings|
|1. Gittin, Vaughn||Monster Energy / Falken Tire Ford Mustang||108 Points|
|2. Millen, Rhys||RMR / Red Bull Hyundai Genesis Coupe||100 Points|
|3. Foust, Tanner||Rockstar Energy Scion TC||82 Points|
|4. Aasbo, Fredric||Japan Auto / FSR Toyota Supra||72 Points|
|5. Tuerck, Ryan||Mobil 1 / Maxxis Tire / Gardella Racing Pontiac Solstice||65 Points|
|6. Hubinette, Samuel||SHR-Dodge / BF Goodrich Dodge Challenger||64 Points|
|7. Mordaunt, Patrick||Brian Crower / PM Racing Nissan 350Z||62 Points|
|8. Deane, James||Falken Tire Nissan S15||61.50 Points|
|9. McNamara, Darren||Falken Tire Saturn Sky||60 Points|
|10. Forsberg, Chris||NOS Energy Drink / CFR Nissan 350Z||56 Points|
|11. Miki, Ryuji||APEXi / Hankook Tire Mazda RX-7||56 Points|
|12. Yoshihara, Daijiro||America’s Tire / Falken Tire Nissan S13||56 Points|
|13. Brakohiapa, Tony||Cooper Tire / Sam’s Autoboy Ford Mustang||54.50 Points|
|14. Verdier, Stephan||Royal Purple / Crawford Performace / Cooper / Subaru STI||54.50 Points|
|15. Wang, Forrest||BF Goodrich / K&N Infiniti G35||54.50 Points|
|16. Takatori, Michihiro||BF Goodrich / Exedy Nissan S15||54.25 Points|
|Round 1: Streets of Long Beach Event Results|
|1. Gittin, Vaughn||Monster Energy / Falken Tire Ford Mustang||1st Place|
|2. Millen, Rhys||RMR / Red Bull Hyundai Genesis Coupe||2nd Place|
|3. Foust, Tanner||Rockstar Energy Scion TC||3rd Place|
Full official standings available on:www.formuladrift.com