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Formula Drift Long Beach 2014

Formula Drift Long Beach 2014

Photos and Words By Paco Ibarra

Long Beach marks the beginning of another season for Formula Drift, with over 10 years under their belt and more drivers running higher horsepower vehicles, this season promises to be faster and more exciting than ever before.


Many drivers like Forrest Wang were sporting new liveries and body kits for the new season.

One of the biggest changes that was made for this 2014 season is the qualifying format which now requires every driver to run twice as opposed to last year where the top 16 qualifying drivers would only be required to run once. Additionally, the judging criteria was adjusted to allow for less ‘zeroes’ in the event of ‘corrections and straightening’ which now only cause point deductions. One of the most criticized changes this season was the removal of the consolation battle for 3rd place which is now decided by points.

This year also surprised fans because of the absence of renowned drivers like Matt Powers and Corey Hosford who are taking a break this year. There were also drivers like Matt Field and Chris Jeanneret whose cars made it to the event but both weren’t ready to race in time but fans will definitely see them running at round two. At this event, fans also noticed a lot of new determined drivers made it to Long Beach and were hungry to earn the “Rookie of the Year” award.


Andy Hateley’s ultra wide E30 BMW is a very unusual vehicle for Formula Drift.


“Officer Dan” Brockett surprised everybody with a rushed build but managed to make it on time for qualifying. Unfortunately he didn’t make it to Top 32.


Against all odds, Dave Briggs is also making over 600HPs out of his SR20 powered S14.

The streets of the Long Beach Track are famous for the unforgiving concrete walls and its high speed initial straight. Dubbed ‘the widow maker,’ it has claimed three victims during practice rounds, and a couple more while qualifying over the years.


Kyle Mohan greets the applauding crowd after his backwards crash against the tire wall.

2013 Champion Michael Essa qualified in first position with an almost perfect score of 96 followed by Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Tyler McQuarrie.


2013 Formula Drift Champion Michael Essa’s BMW M3.

Overall the competition went smooth with very clean but fierce battles and very few accidents and almost no contact between drivers which is quite hard on such a narrow track. Drivers like Pat Goodin surprised everybody with his new turbocharged Escalade powered 240SX when he took on Daigo Saito and moved on to Top 16.


Pat Goodin’s turbocharged V8 S13 coupe.

Chris Forsberg’s battle against Justin Pawlak during Top 4 was the best moment the entire weekend. Fast, tight and overall exciting. Ultimately the judges decided to give Forsberg the win so he moved on to the finals. Then Kenny Moen surprised everybody when he took the champion Michael Essa out during Top 4 as well.


Final battle between Chris Forsberg and Kenny Moen.

Finally Chris Forsberg’s aggressive but smooth driving was enough to dominate the final battle against Moen. This is quite an accolade for Chris who finished 2nd last year and also doesn’t have a title sponsor anymore. He is basically driving as a privateer. Fans can expect more podiums for him this year.


The Dark side of The Force led Chris Forsberg to his first podium of the season.

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