Formula Drift Long Beach 2014 Chris Forsberg Nissan 370Z

2014 Formula Drift Long Beach: Forsberg Fires the Opening Salvo

Formula Drift Long Beach 2014 Chris Forsberg Nissan 370Z

Way back in 1975, when British expat travel agent Chris Pook and American motorsports golden boy Dan Gurney laid out a race course through the streets of Long Beach, California, it’s highly unlikely anyone could have foreseen a day when a new breed of racers would be using some of those same streets as a venue for seeing who could probe the limits of car control and see who could get the most sideways. After all, as far as traditional forms of motorsport are concerned, oversteer is generally a bad thing, costing a driver time and straightaway speed.

But as we all know, drifting can hardly be considered a traditional category of motorsports. Then again, Formula Drift opening its season on the streets of Long Beach a week before the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has become a tradition for the series. And because Long Beach is the only street course on the Formula D schedule, it presents some unique challenges that tend to reward experienced drivers. Such was the case with the 2014 running, which took place over the weekend.

Formula Drift Long Beach 2014 Michael Essa BMW M3 E46

Last year’s series champion Michael Essa(above) showed he’s more than up to the challenge of keeping his crown, grabbing the #1 seed in qualifying and subsequently disposing of rookie Jeremy Richter, Mats Baribeau and Forrest Wang on his way to the semifinals. On the same side of the ladder, Kenny Moen eliminated Geoff Stoneback, Robbie Nishida and fellow Norwegian Fredric Aasbo in his march to the final four. On the other side of the ladder, Chris Forsberg reached the semis at the expense of last year’s Long Beach winner Dai Yoshihara (who has retired his Nissan S13 in favor of a shiny new Subaru BRZ wearing the traditional Falken Tire blue-and-aqua color combo), Patrick Goodin and Darren McNamara, while Justin Pawlak knocked out Jeff Jones, Ryan Tuerck and Odi Bakchis en route to his showdown with Forsberg.

Essa’s march to the final round ended at the hands of Moen and the Bridges Racing Nissan 240SX S14, and Forsberg used his Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z (now sporting a sinister dry carbon fiber look) to end Pawlak’s run. Essa and Pawlak squared off for third-place honors in the consolation round, with the former (driving his Essa Autosport BMW M3 E46) besting the latter (in the Falken Tire Ford Mustang).

Formula Drift Long Beach 2014 podium

That left only the battle for top honors to be fought. Moen gave it all he had, and it took a lot of deliberation from the judges, but in the end it was Forsberg that came out on top in front of a sell-out crowd and hundreds of thousands of online viewers. And to make the win even sweeter, it came on the eve of his 32nd birthday. But best of all, Forsberg gets to keep celebrating his win for just over one month, because the second round of the championship – Road to the Championship at Road Atlanta – won’t take place until the weekend of May 9 and 10.

Formula DRIFT Championship Presented by GoPro 2014 Standings After One Round
1. Forsberg, Chris Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z 104.50 Points
2. Moen, Kenneth Bridges Racing Nissan 240SX 84.50 Points
3. Essa, Michael Essa Autosport / Yokohama BMW M3 74.00 Points
4. Pawlak, Justin Falken Tire Ford Mustang 68.50 Points
5. Aasbo, Fredric Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC 52.50 Points
6. Wang, Forrest Get Nuts Lab / Hankook Tire / STR Racing Nissan S14 51.00 Points
7. Bakchis, Aurimas Feal Suspension / Nitto Tire Nissan 240SX 51.00 Points
8. McNamara, Darren Falken Tire Nissan S14 51.00 Points
9. Gittin Jr., Vaughn Monster Energy / Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR 39.50 Points
10. McQuarrie, Tyler GoPro / Mobil 1 Chevrolet Camaro 38.00 Points
11. Goodin, Pat Enjuku Racing Nissan 240SX 35.00 Points
12. Tuerck, Ryan Retaks / Maxxis Tires / Air Force Scion FR-S 35.00 Points
12. Grunewald, Conrad Megan Racing / Top 1 Oil / BRE Chevrolet Camaro 35.00 Points
13. Mohan, Kyle GT Radial / Energy-X Mazdatrix RX-8 35.00 Points
15. Baribeau, Mats Gold in the Net Toyota Mark II 33.50 Points
16. Mertzanis, Dennis Hyundai Genesis Legato AR1 33.50 Points
17. DeNofa, Chelsea BC Racing / Nitto Tire BMW 3-Series 20.50 Points
18. Mordaunt, Patrick Hyundai Genesis Legato AR7 19.00 Points
19. Kearney, Dean ORACLE Lighting SRT Viper 17.50 Points
20. Gushi, Ken GReddy Performance / Scion Racing Drift FR-S V2 17.50 Points
21. Nishida, Robbie Achilles Radial / Bridges Racing Lexus SC300 17.50 Points
22. Castro, Jhonnattan Progreso Nissan 370Z 17.50 Points
23. Hohnadell, Alec Enjuku Racing Nissan S14 17.50 Points
24. Saito, Daigo Achilles Radial Lexus SC430 17.50 Points
25. Rydquist, Carl Road Race Engineering / Berk Nissan 350Z 17.50 Points
26. Yoshihara, Daijiro Falken Tire / Discount Tire Subaru BRZ 17.50 Points
27. Jones, Jeff CX Racing Nissan S14 17.50 Points
28. Landreville, Marc Marc Landreville Racing Nissan S14 17.50 Points
29. Stoneback, Geoff GSR Nissan S14 17.50 Points
30. Angelo, Tony Tangelo Racing Scion FR-S 17.50 Points
31. Briggs, Dave Achilles Radial / Turbo by Garrett Nissan S14 17.50 Points
32. Richter, Jeremy Jeremy Richter Racing Nissan S13 17.50 Points
Round 1: Streets of Long Beach Event Results
1. Forsberg, Chris Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z Winner
2. Moen, Kenneth Bridges Racing Nissan 240SX 2nd Place
3. Essa, Michael Essa Autosport / Yokohama BMW M3 3rd Place
Manufacturers Championship Standings After One Round
1. Nissan 122.00 Points
2. Ford 108.00 Points
3. BMW 94.50 Points
4. Scion 87.50 Points
5. Chevrolet 73.00 Points
6. Lexus 35.00 Points
6. Mazda 35.00 Points
8. Toyota 33.50 Points
9. Hyundai 19.00 Points
10. Dodge 17.50 Points
Tire Championship Standings After One Round
1. Hankook 157.00 Points
2. Falken 119.50 Points
3. Achilles 102.00 Points
4. Nitto 90.50 Points
5. Yokohama 74.00 Points
6. Kenda 52.50 Points
7. GT Radial 35.00 Points
7. Maxxis 35.00 Points


Photos: Andre Ravinowich