Formula D RD 1: Streets of Long Beach 2014…The Paddock….

I always feel a little out of place at Formula D…. Not because I don’t understand drifting, because I do, I just don’t…ummm…keep up to date with all the happenings in FD. When drifting was first introduced, I was completely enthralled. I love everything about Japanese car culture so when it landed here stateside, it made a huge impact on not only me, but every other diehard Japanese gear head. As the years past, Japanese drifting slowly (no pun intended) drifted away and you saw very little Japanese influence left in American drifting. It became exactly that; AMERICAN drifting. Corporations began stepping in and funding major builds and car manufacturers looked to capitalize on the popularity of drifting in the U.S. by injecting their own influence (AND LOTS OF MONEY) into the motorsport. The drifting you see nowadays is far from what we first saw when drifting landed here in America and it has become its own entity. I have a certain amount of attention for Formula D because I like to cover car culture here in America and as much as a lot of people would hate to admit it, FD is still a very, very big part of car culture. I’m entertained by it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not something like pro basketball or another sport where I check daily for news and updates on it. If it happens, I’ll go check it out but I won’t lose any sleep over it if I miss out on the latest developments in FD. I respect it greatly but I’d be lying to you if I told you that I was a true fan of it…

The main reason I go is very simple; I’m a car guy. I love cars, and I love modified imports. For the most part, some of the drift cars that you see in FD are still imports…barely. The influence in style is all American now and driven more by hipster culture or whatever bright fluorescent colors that are completely unattractive more to the eye than they are “attention-grabbing”. I don’t know if it is because I’m getting older but the moment I see a hint of bright pink or some odd shade of purple on a car, I instantly turn away and don’t look at it. It’s just obnoxious now. The drift cars of old were amazing machines. The graphical liveries represented something and were very pleasing to the eye and weren’t complete eyesores to the viewing audience. The cars from major companies like Falken are still very traditional and “cool” but it seems like the privateers are more concentrated on trying to make their cars as loud as possible in an attempt to pull some attention away from major sponsored vehicles. I guess it works for them and maybe the younger crowd will enjoy it but I think some of these cars are hideous. That and the influence from aftermarket companies have really altered how these cars look. Almost every car seems to be rocking replica wheels and junk from everywhere else but Japan. Even the nicer drift builds with incredible fabrication work that are just beautiful to loo at are ruined by brightly colored fake TE37s and other crap. One of the main reasons why I don’t cover the actual drifting itself is because I don’t believe in promoting replica junk on my site. I cover FD like I would cover any car event I go to; if it catches my eye, I’ll cover it, but more often than not, if it is just a car flooded with knock-off parts and Alibaba.com garbage, you won’t find it here….

With that said, I still thoroughly enjoy Formula D events. They are entertaining every year and I always enjoy the actual human-side of the event as I see a lot of friends and associates in the industry that are still actively involved in events organized by Formula D. It is a great event and the turn-out every year is pretty amazing. The lines are always long and you can genuinely tell that the people that attend these events are very much into what they are seeing. Drifting is pure entertainment for them and it is obvious that drifting is still very strong in America in 2014. I myself am just more interested in documenting the event as a whole and what surrounds it than the drifting itself. I think I saw somewhere that someone posted a meme where it said that drifting in America is sideways drag racing….and its totally true. The balance and the beauty of the motorsport that originally came from Japan is long gone and in true American-form, it is all about brute power these days. You do see a little bit of Japanese influence in FD still but it is few and far between. The Japanese no longer import their cars over from Japan to compete in FD because it just isn’t worth it to do so anymore. Instead, they have a car built here specifically for them to drive and they are never here long enough to even have seat time in the cars to get them dialed-in correctly. The cars run into mechanical problems more often than not and these drivers are stuck in the pits watching the races like all the other enthusiasts while LS-powered monsters with experienced American drivers are dominant. In the rare instances when a Japanese driver does attempt to come over to compete in FD, it almost seems like no one cares anymore because they are already used to seeing them attempt the transition and not be successful…

I can go on but let’s just say “it is what it is” and American drifting just isn’t for me. Maybe I just care too much about Japanese car culture to see it completely removed from a motorsport that they made popular here in the U.S. There are a lot of positives to Formula D, however. If you are just a casual car guy who likes attending car shows and enjoys watching drifting, than by all means, this is perfect for you. These events house everything that you could ever want in an event; drifting, access to the paddocks to see the cars in person, girls, vendors with display cars, and there is even a car show if you want something to look at other than drift cars. It is a great, well-organized event. I applaud them for how much FD has grown because it is a powerhouse in the broad spectrum of our car community. I appreciate the fact that these events are doing so well because it gives car guys like me something to do. I do wish that this drifting was the same drifting that I grew up watching but hey, things change and evolve. Just because they are not to my liking, it doesn’t mean that it is wrong or should change to accommodate my perspective…

Below is my coverage from Formula D Round 1 held on the streets of Long Beach, California. Today, we will be looking specifically at the paddock area where the vendors were placed and where the drift cars were parked during the downtime in-between the various rounds of competition. Tomorrow, we will be looking at the car show side of the FD event which was organized by Illest/Fatlace dubbed the “Offset Kings Showcase”… Sorry for their being no actual drifting coverage. I didn’t get track credentials to go into the areas to capture the action because I spent my time walking the event and looking at everything else….

Despite my ranting, thanks to Formula D for having me, haha…. 🙂

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The Falken Tire fleet ready for competition…

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Darren McNamara’s 6.7L Sprint Car V8-powered S14 with TRA Kyoto Rocket Bunny aero and HRE 501 wheels…

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One of, if not the most, anticipated debuts at Formula DRIFT in 2014 was Dai Yoshihara’s brand new Rocket Bunny Version 2 Subaru BRZ. You first caught a glimpse of this car on this site in last year’s SEMA Show coverage when it was naked and all-white sans graphics…

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Under the hood of Yoshihara’s BRZ is a turbocharged 7.0L GM LS7 motor…

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Rocket Bunny V2 aero makes this BRZ look very much like a giant snake head…

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Dai’s machine was met with much anticipation and was blasted all over the web. Unfortunately, it didn’t go very far in Round 1 of FD competition. I think it would be a little unrealistic to think that it would though considering how it is a brand new build and there are still kinks that need to be ironed-out. Dai is a great driver but if you’re thrown into a machine that you don’t have much seat time in, you can’t expect him to just shoot all the way to 1st place….

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Takahashi Kuniaki and his Lexus SC430 drift car. Kuniaki is one of the few drivers to make the trip from Japan to compete in Formula D this year. The Lexus you see is actually an American SC430 that they converted to right-hand drive specifically for Kuniaki….

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Speaking of SC430s, here are a couple shots of the Achilles Tire’s Soarer piloted by Daigo Saito, another Japanese FD competitor….

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Finally got close enough to get a shot of the interior on the Friday that I was there since every time I see this thing, there seems to be a hoard of people around it…

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Huge APR rear wing on Saito’s Soarer…

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The engine bay of a 2JZ-GTE swapped S14 drift car. I believe this was Kenny Moen’s S14…

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Chris Forsberg’s Z34 on SSR GT-F01 wheels. Forsberg was the eventual winner of Round 1….

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One of the reasons I like walking around the paddock area is finding some cars that stand-out that aren’t even there for display or competition. This Lexus IS300 Sportcross was just hiding by some enclosed trailers but looked great with the TRD Neo front bumper and gold Advan Racing RS wheels…

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Formula D rookie Matt Coffman’s TRA Kyoto RPS13. Check out the front/rear AP Racing brakes behind the Rays Gram Lights 57DR wheels. The rears even have twin calipers on each side…

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Coffman’s S13 is powered by a Roush Yates Ford 6.7L V8 that makes around 890HP….

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Kuniaki’s SC430 looked like it was down for most of the afternoon as crew members continued work on the car. This was taken the Friday of the event during qualifying…

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The LTMW Rocket Bunny BRZ is, in my opinion, the best-looking TRA Kyoto 86/BRZ stateside. I think it looks even better without the sponsor graphics that were placed on the car for the 2013 SEMA event…

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LTMW’s LB Performance E92 M3 on HRE wheels…

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Mazda Miata on AME-produced Fatlace FZERO2 wheels…

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Kelvin Hsiu’s Do-Luck widebody EVO 9 that was recently repainted this cement hue…

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Kevin Huynh’s LS400 at the JDM Chemicals booth…

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Cool J-inspired decals inside Huynh’s LS…

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S2000 on gold-faced WED’s Kranze LXZ….

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Luigi Arroyo’s J’s Racing GT widebody S2000 on Takata Green Volk Racing TE37s, parked appropriately at the Takata Racing booth…

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Eddie Kumchumroon’s 2JZ-GTE-swapped 1995 Nissan 240SX…

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Canadian Mats Baribeau’s JZX90 Toyota Mark II….

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Due to mechanical issues, Kuniaki’s SC never even made it for the qualifying rounds of Formula DRIFT competition in Long Beach….

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Forrest Wang’s 2JZ-GTE powered S14 drift car. I always stop to look at this thing because it is probably one of the best-looking and most intricately built cars in FD competition…

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S15 Silvia Spec-R on display at the CX Racing booth…

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One of the other more anticipated debuts, especially for Honda guys, was Chris Jeanneret’s Speed Factory-built Honda S2000…

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S2000s have been used in drifting competition a couple times in the past, with the RS*R S2000 and Papadakis Racing S2K as stand-outs, but they were never really that competitive. Years have passed and technology has significantly improved so maybe Jeanneret’s will write a different story…

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…and maybe this Speed Factory-built stroked K24 turbo swap will be instrumental in Chris’ success in 2014….

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Just seeing this thing in person was insane. I had seen photos of it online and heard about its build-up since Rywire was involved in wiring the entire vehicle, but you really have to see this thing in person to truly appreciate it…

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Vibrant Performance stepped in as the title sponsor for this build which came together in just a little over two weeks….

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I chatted with Jeanneret briefly as he was unloading the car and he mentioned that when everything is dialed-in, this should be one of the more high-powered vehicles in FD competition. He also said that S2000s in the past have failed because they didn’t have the adequate suspension components to make the chassis a viable competitor. Now that we are in 2014, things have signficantly changed and there is much more custom fabrication work on this S2000 than any S2000 you’ve seen compete in the past….

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This isn’t even the final form of the K24-powered S2000 either. There are still aero modifications coming from Circuit Garage which should further this cars evolution…

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Unfortunately for Chris, the car didn’t make it to Long Beach in time for tech inspection so it wasn’t available for competition. I think this worked out better for Chris anyways as the car was completed just a couple hours before it had to be at Formula D. Better to be safe and have everything together than to risk competing with zero seat time prior and possibly wrecking the car…

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In terms of display vehicles, this Skyline 2000GT at the Autofashion USA booth was probably the most captivating build at the event….

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At the SSR/Tanabe booth was this Scion FR-S from R-Rydes on newly re-released SSR Formula Mesh wheels. Note the Todoroki front fenders on this car which adds an additional 30mm…

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The Scion Racing booth featured this Scion FR-S with a KM4SH aero kit, which is a Miura-produced kit exclusively for Speedhunters….

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Fatlace TRA Kyoto FR-S on AME Tracers…

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APR Performance widebody Ford Mustang looking really good on Japanese SSR Professor MS3 wheels…

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R35 GTR placed at the APR Performance booth…..

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Sick turbocharged 2AZ-FE swap in Taka Aono’s AE86 Corolla drift car…

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Tyler Wolfson’s 13B-powered FD3S RX-7 representing GT Radial…

Here are a couple more shots of the Falken cars since I took so many…

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Yoshihara’s BRZ…

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…and McNamara’s Zenki S14…

That’s a wrap for today. Tomorrow we will be taking a look at the cars within the Fatlace “Offset Kings Showcase” aka California’s largest S13/S14 showcase, haha… Thanks for looking! Make sure to come back for more!….

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8 thoughts

  1. I agree with the fact USA drifting has become its on. When I saw that image of dai’s and JTP mustang saying drag racing MEME. It was funny yet disappointing how FD has evolved to everyone swapping V8’s. Most of these guys are doing to keep up and get as much HP to compete b/c 4 bangers turbo’s aren’t cutting it no more with how they have 800hp+ V8 engines vs these 4 bangers with turbo’s that lagg. I root for that S2k and even if ideal I don’t see him winning 2014 I hope he can get in the podiums and represent Honda’s. Taka is an example how he struggles with his AE86 bc it is all about speed and HP and not about going style or tandem no more. It is sad.
    but!
    Like always great job! Love your work and can’t wait to see tomorrows OK car show!

  2. I agree with you on this. I’ve been following Formula D for quite a few years now and I feel as the years progress, the less I’m impress. I didn’t even bother watching because majority of the drivers I wanted to watch, are no longer participating. It’s pretty upsetting because I love drifting but now it’s no longer enjoyable. It was a nice attempt to bring japanese drifting to the states but I knew it wouldn’t last. Love your write up 🙂

  3. Pingback: Formula D RD 1: Streets of Long Beach 2014…The Offset Kings Showcase…. | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  4. Great coverage. I understand your POV with drifting in America. It has become it’s own identity and has moved passed its japanese inspired roots. The diehards still root for Japanese drifting but mainstream America is more pleased with the current model. If you are really a fan of drifting, then you will learn to admire US drifting as oppose to being selective to only Japanese. Any drifting is better than no drifting. FD has provided an outlet for grass roots drivers to turn pro and earn a living.

  5. Just to let you know, you don’t have to post this either, just wanted you to see what I said about drifting in America as well. I didn’t try to spam you by letting you know that this link was sent to me by my friend. I just said “Funny” because it’s so similar.

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