Formula D Round 1: Streets of Long Beach

Words by Matt Willis

As many of you know, the downtown Long Beach has been  in the motorsports spotlight recently. Last weekend, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach sent a spectacular array of ALMS and IZOD Indy Cars down the front stretch of Shoreline Drive. And the weekend before, Formula D launched their first exhibition of the season on the same course.

I’ll start by saying…I love the “street course” concept that Long Beach offers. It’s unique and everlasting, as the Grand Prix has graced the streets of Long Beach for the past 37 years. Racing takes place underneath the same stoplights and through the same intersections that are used normally during the rest of the year. The city structures to the east, the port and marina to the west and the palm trees along the main straight give the course a truly one-of-a-kind feel. It was fun to photograph and exciting to be a part of.

Now…Formula D specifically…I’m not sure I can say the same. Formula D has never really been my cup of tea, so I suppose I attended the event with a bit of a bias to begin with. It’s not that I don’t like drifting…I do…but, there’s something about Formula D that either comes off as incredibly boring or so restrained that it becomes exhausting. Maybe it’s because the competition is based on judging, sort of like watching a gymnastics or diving competition. The drivers compete for showmanship – through angle, speed, smoke, proximity, sustenance and many other factors that get accounted for; which I understand — how else would drifting be scored? That is the core of the competition – but I think there is room to improve the format. Why not add passing, or timing? The original goal of drifting was to make it down the mountain quickest–so why not have time as a factor? Don’t get me wrong. I still love drifting and it definitely takes a different kind of driver to tackle it; but it could be more edgy.

Tim did most of the photo coverage on this one, while I spent most of the day trying to find a spot to shoot the drifting action. Two sets of chain link fences and stringent media access kind of put us in a tough spot, but we got as much as we could. Even in the grandstands, the fences obstructed our view. Several others in the industry got denied media credentials this year that were able to get it previously; likely thanks to a new [stricter] management team running the MR department…it was frustrating…but in any case, here are the pics…

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Immediately upon entering, we were greeted by this McLaren MP4-12C. There were quite a few people checking out the various booths and paddock area. We headed over to the south side of the area to check out the car show.

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In the paddock area, used tires were free to take home as souvenirs…

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Covertible Scion FR-S. The FR-S actually made it’s drifting debut in Long Beach, driven by Ken Gushi.

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Dai Yoshihara’s S13.

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Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s Falken/Monster ‘stang…

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There were a few mishaps throughout the day…

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I believe this is the G35 from Import Fashion…not really my taste, but well done nonetheless…

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KSport Z33 that we saw at SEMA last year. Glad to see it in action…

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I like the color on this EK chassis…

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Couple of FC’s…

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Very nice GS…

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James Oliver’s Prelude was on display…

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DPK David’s iconic EJ1…

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Joey Lee’s immaculate Q45 on display…

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Crazy widebody Corolla at the Motegi booth.

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Justin Pawlak’s RX-7 in the paddock…

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Neochrome Work Meisters…brilliant…

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Interesting halftone pattern…even on the wheels…

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Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s Mustang RTR-X on display at the Hoonigan booth…

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Here’s the view we had of the drifting…

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And even with a 500mm prime, we couldn’t manage to shoot through the fences…

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…we did get some shots at the starting line, though.

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Afterwards, we headed down Pine Ave. to grab some wings and wrap up the day.

Overall, I thought it was “ok.” Not exhilirating, but not completely drab. Well…in comparison to the Grand Prix that took place the following week. More coverage to come…

Thanks for reading!

-Matt

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This entry was posted by fullcoupe.

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