Formula Drift Championships begin 2014 season in Long Beach
Formula Drift 2014 Pro Championship begins its seven round national schedule by tearing up the streets of Long Beach for the 11th time. The course is set to use a portion of the back straightaway leading into the turns 9, 10, and Turn 11 hairpin of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach track.
This excerpted and edited from Formula Drift website -
As the first official series in North America, Formula DRIFT has taken competitive motorsports to the extreme, attracting fans and car enthusiasts from all walks of life and establishes itself as the worldwide leader for the Sport. This high-skilled, high-powered motor sport where drivers intentionally maneuver their cars into well executed, controlled sideways slides at high speeds through a marked course, has professional drivers & teams competing in seven championship competitions in 2014.
Judged on execution and style, rather than who finishes the course in the fastest time, Drifting is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, and is often compared to the freestyle nature of skateboarding and motocross.
Formula DRIFT Fast Facts
- Created first ever drifting world championship; brought together 32 drivers, 17 past and present championship, from 12 nations, representing 12 series
- Created Formula Drift Asia Championship; first Pan-Asia professional championship
- Created Formula Drift Pro Am Affiliate Network; bridge together various regional level series, the "minor league" for Formula Drift
- 7-stop Championship Series travels across the United States
- 87% of Formula Drift Fans are between 18-34 years old
- Formula Drift is one of only a few sports to see a growth in attendance during the economic downturn in 2009 and 2010.
- FIRST drifting championship in the world to be sponsored by non-endemic companies such as EA Games
- FIRST drifting championship to have factory backed teams
- FIRST drifting championship in the world to have an official, sanctioned competition on city streets
- FIRST drifting championship to be aired on national cable & syndicated globally with a dedicated series of shows
- FIRST drifting championship to be filmed and featured in high definition
- FIRST drifting championship to be filmed and featured in 3D
- Formula Drift has the MOST diverse driver field (nationality, age and gender) of any drifting series in the world and field of competition cars (year, make and model) of any drifting series in the world
- Responsible for holding the MOST professional drifting events than anyone in North America
- Held the HIGHEST attended drifting event ever
This excerpted and edited from RACER -
PREVIEW: Formula DRIFT Long Beach
Jen Horsey, RACER - Wednesday, 02 April 2014
The action has already begun. A media demonstration day Tuesday saw drivers Dean Kearney and Ryan Tuerck both hit the wall hard in a pair of unrelated crashes.
"It's an unforgiving track. It's really slippy and once you get into the marbles, there's no recovery from that," says driver Fredric Aasbo, who kept his Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC (pictured, ABOVE) out of trouble Tuesday. "It's a balancing act. You want to be able to find the limit, but that track bites your a** – if it goes wrong it's like a game of pinball, bouncing off the walls."
The motorsport calls for full commitment from competitors. Judges award points to drivers for smoky, sideways drifts based on criteria of speed, angle and style. While it is relegated to alternative status by racing purists, there is no arguing the high degree of car control required to deliberately hurl a sideways car into a corner and keep it pinned at 90mph, inches from an opponent's door.
"It is a race. It's not timed, per se, but leaving the other guy in the dust – or in the smoke – is still what matters most," says Aasbo.
And while both Kearney and Tuerck are expected to return to competition this weekend, it can be tough to bounce back from a tangle with the Long Beach course – especially given the power the cars are producing this year. This season is seeing a continuation of the incremental trend toward ever-increasing horsepower, facilitated by the series' open rulebook, which encourages development and innovation.
Perhaps more controversial [in this year's competition] is Formula Drift's decision to eliminate the third-place knockout round. Typically one of the most exciting battles of the weekend, drivers held nothing back in their attempts to earn the final spot on the podium.
Although the action was exciting, Sage said organizers made the decision for the fans. Too often, the third-place round often ran long as judges determined the competition too close to call and repeatedly called the drivers back to try again. Television schedules suffered and fans wore out. Third place will now go to the highest-qualifying driver who achieves the bracket.
"Our closest cousin, NHRA, doesn't run (a third-place round) either," said Sage. "We thought we would do away with it for one year and evaluate."
In a championship round, drivers qualify for one of 32 spots on the grid, then work their way through a series of head-to-head knock-out elimination tandem runs to the winner-take-all first-place battle. Qualifying for this weekend's main event takes place on Friday (gates open at 11 a.m.), with gates opening for the main event on Saturday at 10 a.m. The top rounds of competition get started with the official opening ceremonies Saturday at 3 p.m.
The following weekend, during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the drifting action returns to the streets of Long Beach with the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge (pictured, ABOVE). The demonstration event is open to all weekend ticket-holders and takes place under the lights Friday and Saturday nights (April 11 and 12), with the action starting at 7 p.m.
Actually, for those who do not mind a little pre-season, pre-race party, on which one might meet some drivers and team owners, head over to The Federal Bar at 102 Pine Ave. just up from Ocean Ave. in downtown Long Beach. The action is set to begin at 6:00pm PT with drink specials offered all night and as an added treat, Formula DRIFT cars will be on display.
... notes from The EDJE