Sitting around in the north east of England in February, a person’s mind turns to how to break the winter blues, and that normally means starting to look at the calendar and planning a trip abroad. Looking over the FD schedule I initially started with the standard dates I look at, New Jersey and Irwindale but the one that jumped out was round 1 at Long Beach. It’s a track I’ve never shot and meant I could look at attending the Grand Prix of Long Beach the following weekend. A couple of days of checking flights and hotels and I was telling my day boss that I was taking pretty much the whole of April off…I already had the Easter weekend all booked for Drift Games round 1 in Ireland.
Once again the Streets of Long Beach was taken over with the smell and sound of burning rubber, as Formula Drift made its return to the famous city street course to kick off its 2019 season.
In its formative years, Formula DRIFT provided a full track demonstration of drifting skills for spectators at the Grand Prix of Long Beach street race. However, the format was changed about four years ago to better reflect a competitive drift event. Taking place in the evening under the lights, it was the first time in the history of GPLB that a support series was held at night. Known as the Motegi Racing Super DRIFT Challenge, it continues to entertain race fans at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
With the 2018 season widely regarded as one of the most exciting in the series’ 15-year history, 2019 has all the ingredients for the most intense competition to date. And because nothing sits still, Formula DRIFT is welcoming new sponsors, drivers and cars to the series.
There are six rookies in the 2019 Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship, for whom the O’Reilly Auto Parts Streets of Long Beach presented by Permatex would be their first competitive outing on the Californian street course. They include three drivers from overseas and three inductees from the Formula DRIFT Link ECU Pro 2 Championship. The top three from the drifting feeder championship are title winner Travis Reeder plus runners up Dylan Hughes and Sebastien Gauthier.
As is traditional, round one of the 2018 Formula DRIFT series took place on the Streets of Long Beach last weekend, with Frederic Aasbo climbing to the top step of the podium. Following the event, the city streets remain closed for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which hosts the Motegi Super DRIFT invitational challenge on Friday and Saturday evenings.
With new cars, drivers and teams attacking the corners for the long-awaited opening round of Formula DRIFT, the Streets of Long Beach promised a great deal of excitement and did not disappoint.
Highlights among the 2018 field included 2016 FD champion, Fredric Aasbo, driving his Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire 2019 Toyota Corolla, unveiled days earlier at the New York International Auto Show. Matt Field also debuted his Wish / Borla / Falken Tire Chevrolet Corvette, while Federico Sceriffo would bring his unique Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Drift Spec (aka Fiorella) to the Californian street circuit.
With a number of brand new cars and almost every team carrying out modifications and upgrades during the off-season, the first round always brings a degree of trepidation as the drivers get to grips with a “green” track. However, the front runners started to emerge during practice, and qualifying highlighted the drivers to watch. Continue reading