Formula Drift Long Beach 2014 pt. 1: The Paddock and the Track

Image This year I finally planned ahead and made sure to take the Friday of the 2014 Formula Drift season opener on the streets of Long Beach.  I love going the day before the official event because you always get a good clear view of the track and there are no restrictions on what sections you can spectate from.  Combine that with a considerably lower attendance than the main event (it was a workday afternoon after all) and you get a great recipe for the few panning shots there are to be had without an official media pass.  This shot I snagged of Fredric Aasbo getting some serious angle in his Scion Racing tC with its eye-catchingly photogenic Speedhunters livery. Image Even the view from the parking structure was pretty good! Watching the drivers warm up their tires with tight donuts before they screamed down the opening straightaway can be had for as little as the $10 parking fee and early arrival. Image   I caught this glimpse of Conrad Grunewald’s Megan Racing Camaro as I was walking to the ticket booth, even waiting in line is entertaining! I always get a chuckle out of hearing the rear tires squeak and chirp as these guys turn through these tight parking-lot roads due to their locked rear differentials. Image Sadly Danny George slid his new Miata into the tire wall on the first run of his that I saw, damaging the rear of the car and he was off the track for most of the day. Image His crew huddled together to unleash the combined power of blowtorch and torque to rectify the damage. Image Eventually their efforts were rewarded with the sweet sound of sideways squealing as Danny pitched it through the curves until… Image as you can see by the famous line judge Bil Baldwin’s expression, Danny’s final clutch-kick at the hairpin did in his LS-powered Miata on the home-stretch. Heart-breaker! Image Image Danny wasn’t the only one to make a close encounter of the hard, concrete kind.  Big Joon Maeng got a little overzealous and whacked the tail of his supercharged V-8 powered 240SX into the tire wall on turn two, spinning it around and damaging the front end as well. Image Image While I was walking around the pits I stumbled upon Taka Aono’s “Flyin’ 86” powered by a 2AZ-FE from a Scion tC, though it looked like he was having engine troubles as I did not see him competing on the field.  If you have seen the amazing documentary made of him and his car you know what he is up against this season, hopefully the ultimate underdog will give us an awesome twist this season! Image Back out near the track I got a chance to see Kyle Mohan in the EnergyX Mazda RX-8 getting in some practice. Image Down at ground level with Justin Pawlak in the Falken Mustang, still the best-looking livery in Formula Drift as far as I’m concerned. Image Canadian Marc Landreville’s 2JZ-powered S14 was definitely a close second though! Image Best-looking bodywork still goes to Dai Yoshihara’s BRZ, it looks just as great flying sideways down the track as it did parked in the Fatlace Paddock. Image   I’ll sign off with this final shot of a lone 86 slipping its way into the long sweeper, as I feel it gives a good idea of what qualifying day at Formula Drift Long Beach is like, great views of loud cars! FDLB 2014 by Max Montague

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