When Formula Drift comes to Long Beach, its a pretty big deal. It is the first round of the season, it marks the debut of new teams, sponsors, drivers, and it also sets the tone for the rest of the season. Its also right in my backyard (kind of) so I always try to do my due diligence when it comes to covering this event for you all.
With the silly season over, new cars revealed, and the track ready the talk of the weekend was Justin “JTP” Pawlak. He was one of the few drivers to remain in (basically) the same car as last year and he has also won Long Beach the last two years in a row. Falken Tire was already anticipating their driver turning the weekend into a three-peat. However hopes of that were nearly dashed when JTP made an uncharacteristic mistake in Friday qualifying and had a bad shunt into the tires and wall at the beginning of Long Beach’s infamous sweeper.
The impact nearly destroyed the front end of JTP’s Falken Tire Ford Mustang but luckily his team was able to get the car back together in time to make another qualifying run. Despite the damage JTP managed to qualify 23rd and get into the big show. Unfortunately the show ended for JTP when his Drift Alliance brother Ryan Tuerck managed to take him down in the Top 16 which blew the competition wide open. With JTP out it was anyone’s game. Except for Tuerck who like JTP was taken out by a Drift Alliance member, this time Chris Forsberg. Forsberg fell to the same fate when Vaughn Gittin Jr. took him down in the Final 4. This sent 2011 champion Vaughn to the final to face none other than his main rival of that year Dai Yoshihara.
Unlike JTP, Dai was having a great weekend. He remained in a familiar car and due to his confidence in his machine and his team giving him a great set up Dai managed to qualify first. After that there was no stopping him as he took down Tyler McQuarrie, Matt Powers, Fredric Aasbo, and finally Chelsea DeNofa to make it to the finals.
After a heated battle Dai Yoshihara bested Vaughn Gittin Jr. to win the round and complete a perfect weekend (1st qualifier, and the win). During the podium ceremony Dai said that with his momentum he will “definitely go for the championship”. Watch out guys, Dai has officially begun his mission.
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If you like drifting at all and have no idea what to do this weekend then you are a magnificent moron! The 2013 Formula Drift season starts tomorrow you idiot! Where the hell have you been? Did you not see the banner at the top of this website for the last two months!?
Whew, ok, ok I am going to cut you some slack. In case I did not make it incredibly clear a second ago, Formula Drift round 1 is going down this weekend (tomorrow and Saturday) on the streets of Long Beach. Most tickets might be sold out by now but there may be a few hundred seats left and city officials have allowed Formula Drift to sell some overflow general admission tickets. Technically, those tickets are “standing room only” but Formula Drift will allow folding lawn chairs.
So hurry up and get your tickets! Here is all the info:
Tyler McQuarrie is not just a Formula Drift driver, he is also the owner of his team. When you own a motorsport team you pretty much get to do whatever the heck you want. In this case Tyler decided he wanted to let his friend Indy Car driver (and fellow GoPro athelete) J.R. Hildebrand take a few laps in his snarling beast of a Camaro. How does J.R. do? Could this be a new career path for the young open wheel driver? Probably not. But the driver does know how to go sideways. You can watch it all for yourself in the video below. Fun fact: all the footage you will see was shot with GoPro HERO3′s
Just a few moments ago this epic video of Formula Drift driver/team owner Tyler McQuarrie and Indy Car driver J.R. Hildebrand de-virginized the interwebs. The edit, dubbed “Caddy Ruckus” features the driver duo hooning a pair of D3 prepped Cadillac CTS-Vs around an undisclosed location. The result is a minute and a half of smokey rumbling awesome! Watch below.
Every year the guys at Formula Drift try to do something different on the Thursday before the round 1 event on the streets of Long Beach. One year they had several cars park outside of an arcade in downtown and had drivers on hand to sign autographs. Another year they held an art show. This year they topped themselves by having 10 cars parade at 25 mph from downtown Long Beach down Belmont Shore. The parade had a police escort and at the end of the party was a double-decker bus for the media. It was my first time on such a bus and I had a blast! The parade ended at the swanky Tantalum resturant & bar in Marina Pacifica. Check out some pics below from the rolling party.
I just came back from the Formula Drift media/preview event and I was puzzled to see what looked like the Gardella Camaro but wearing a new wrap sporting GoPro and Mobil 1 as primary sponsors. Just when I was getting ready to do some journalistic digging I saw none other than Tyler McQuarrie step out of the car and it all made sense! A while back there were rumors that Tyler went to go see Gary Gardella over on the east coast and many thought they would be discussing a deal for Tyler to replace Ryan Tuerck as the Gardella Racing’s driver. However, after a few minutes of speaking with Tyler I learned that what actually happend is that Tyler bought a controlling stake in Gardella’s team, effectively turning it into his own program.
The exact details of the deal are being held close to the chest but the way Tyler explained it was that as of now he does not own the team 100% but rather it is a partnership with Gardella but Tyler is still in charge and calls the shots. “Gardella was looking for a way out and I was trying to stay in” said McQuarrie. Well it looks like the two were able to work out a solution which kept Tyler drifting and let Gardella take a much deserved vacation from the hectic life that is drift team ownership. Replacing the Red Bull money that was previously on the Camaro is GoPro and Mobil 1.
When I asked Tyler what it was like driving the Camaro versus his previous NASCAR powered 350Z. Tyler says that the Camaro is “down on power” from the Z (his Camaro makes about 750HP while the 350Z had 800+) but he says that the decrease in power and torque actually makes the Camaro easier to drive and more forgiving than the 350Z. His Camaro will also run on Yokohama Advan tires which “hold up really well” says Tyler.
All in all Tyler is happy to be back in Formula Drift and I know there are tons of fans that will be happy to see him back as well. We wish you luck in the first round Tyler!