Formula Drift Inaugurates 2011 Season by Vaporizing Tires on the Streets of Long Beach
Drifting is to Motorsports as MMA is to Boxing. If anyone got lost there with the SAT question reference, the point is that drifting is a phenomenon that has taken the world by storm, uprooting the prevaling stalwarts and creating a massive following in its berth. This past weekend Formula DRIFT kicked off the 2011 season by turning downtown Long Beach into a plume of vaporized rubber.
If you follow the sport, you’ll be disappointed to hear that two-time champion and all-around superstar Tanner Foust was noticeably absent, having retired to focus on rally racing and TV, Sam Hubinette didn’t even get a chance to run due to engine problems in his Dodge Challenger and last year’s title holder Vaugh Gittin Jr. failed to qualify in his new 2011 Ford Mustang. But that didn’t stop the sideways action from being fast and furious (oh yeah, that just happened).
During Friday’s stretch, drivers attempted to make the cut during two non-consecutive solo runs through the course as they were judged on speed (both entry and consistency), angle (amount of counter-steer and rear slip angle), line (the ideal path laid out by clipping points) and overall impression. Luckily, crowd favorites and drifting veterans Rhys Millen, Chris Forsberg and Ryan Tuerk all made the cut.
On Saturday, the field of 32 was slowly whittled down with cars competing in head-to-head running tandem with the higher qualifier leading first and then following for the second run. Either Driver A wins or Driver B won, or the judges opted for One More Time. After some crazy sideways action and stiff competition Justin Pawlak (31) eventually took the win for the first time, ironically running in Gittin Jr’s old 845hp 2011 Ford Mustang. Matt Powers (23) locked down 2nd place in a Nissan S14 while Daijiro Yoshihara (31) took the final spot on the podium in his 1993 Nissan 240sx.