Ramblings about Formula Drift Round 1: Long Beach

So this weekend saw the start of my two favourite drifting series; The British Drift Championship at Lydden Hill which I was able to attend (the write up of which can be found here: https://motorsportformentalhealth.com/2016/04/10/british-drift-championship-round-1-lydden-lake/ ) and Formula Drift at Long Beach which I sadly couldn’t attend.

This post was to be a battle by battle report like the BDC one but since Formula Drift’s live stream is now handled by Network A I figured that the battles would be put on Network A’s YouTube channel and that you would rather watch the actual battles than read about them.

I wanted to make a post acknowledging the start of the Formula Drift season though. Formula Drift is, possibly controversially, my favourite of the pro drift series’. Long Beach is one of my favourite tracks as well. It’s been an event I was looking forward to watching for a while.

For those of you not in the know the Grand Prix circuit at Long Beach is a harrowing street course flanked by large concrete walls. With no run-offs, a mistake here will almost certainly result in a bone-jarring impact that will do significant damage to the cars involved. For the drivers of Formula Drift, who use turns 9,10 and 11 it is the ultimate test; to give their newly built machines a baptism by fire in an environment that takes no prisoners.

To make the task ahead even more difficult for the drivers both the practise day and competition day were plagued with rain. This is the first time I can remember it raining at Long Beach and it had a huge effect on the cars. Obviously following UK drifting I see a lot of driving in the rain and know that it does significantly change the handling characteristics of the cars and how much power a driver can put down but the effect seemed to be really enhanced; it was almost as if the cars were driving on ice. The lack of grip was evident and saw a lot of good drivers going into the wall; Juha Rintanen, Forrest Wang and Chris Forsberg to name just a few.

Despite the difficulties the part of the top 32 I was able to watch saw some good battles. The battle between Odi Bakchis and Alex Heilbrunn was super cool as was the battle between Forrest Wang and Matt Coffman who used the slippery surface to their advantage by running some huge angles!

Commentary was as always, super clear from Jarod DeAnda. the guy seems to get a lot of flak on the internet but I think he is a really good commentator, he is clearly passionate about what he does and certainly doesn’t mumble! Fun but unrelated fact I saw Jarod at Formula Drift Atlanta back in 2012, we made eye contact but I think I was lost at the time so probably had a super frustated/concentrating face on. I hope he didn’t think that I was staring him out, not that it really matters; he’s huge and I’m tiny so I doubt he would have been intimidated 😀

Talking if things that get flak on the internet can we talk about Kyle Mohan’s Mazda Miata for a bit?  For those of you that haven’t seen it allow me to show with a picture from the Kyle Mohan Racing Facebook page.

Kyle Mohan 1

As you can see the front wheels poke a long way out of the front arches and the internet has gone mad over it. Like, it complies with the rule book so why stress about it? The biggest criticism against it is that it takes away the element of style… Even though style is subjective… Ok it might not be ‘hellaflush yo!’ but it’s designed to be competitive at drifting, not winning car shows. It’s legal and if it works for the driver then why hate on it? There might be some huge over fenders in the works for it anyway.

With that being said I suppose all I have left to do is congratulate Chelsea DeNofa, who is a top chap and drives an E46 BMW, for the win and Fredric Aasbo and Ken Gushi for coming 2nd and 3rd respectively. An interesting start to the season and I’m looking forward to seeing what Atlanta brings

Thanks for reading!

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