Retrospective>> Formula Drift Long Beach 2006

Around this time of year I get all nostalgic about my start as a motorsports photographer in 2006, when I was shooting for a Nissan enthusiast website called “FreshAlloy.” Back then, I had a Canon Rebel xt (350d) with a battery grip, a kit lens and a gigantic one gigabyte memory card. Those were the days!

2006 was also the first year Formula Drift held an event on the Streets of Long Beach -who would have known the sport would grow so much in so little time!

I can honestly say I miss watching Tanner drift after the “Golden Child” left the sport a few years ago.

I think he was one of the best drivers to ever grace the Formula Drift podium.

I consider the RSR S2000 one of the pioneer cars for the American drift scene.

It was originally built by Gary Castillo of Design Craft. Since then it has exchanged many hands.

Part of covering the Long Beach Grand Prix is shooting “Team Drift.”

This team consisting of Calvin Wan, Chris Forsberg and Samuel Hubinette.

Sam ended up winning the event back in 2006. It’s too bad he wont be around this year to put another notch in his belt. At the time, Sam’s SRT was the only one loud enough to make the photographers beg for ear plugs.

This being one of the first Formula Drift events I ever shot, I felt good about myself for being brave enough to stand on the inside of turn 11. I only peed in my pants a little bit.

Here’s the political drifter Ross Petty in his infancy. The following year he became a full time Falken driver campaigning the same exact chassis that Daijiro Yoshihara won the 2011 championship with last year.

One thing I miss about the old Formula D events was Tarzan Yamada’s involvement in the series.

He always did the craziest stuff during the Top 16 introduction. He always teased us with that awesome looking Viper SRT, but he never drifted the full course. Bummer.

I swear Hiro Sumida’s Chaser was held together by duct tape and a prayer by the end of the 2006 season. Eventually Hiro got an IS350, which eventually gets passed on to Daijiro in 2009.

This event was the first and last time I had a chance to see papa Gushi drift his Subaru. It’s too bad he does not campaign this any more, after all he is the one who taught his son, Ken Gushi how to drift.

Of course Ken is still alive and kicking, and this year he will be driving the brand new FR-S. It’s easy to forget he used to be associated with Mustangs.

Bridges Racing must have a thing with bringing over awesome Japanese drifters because back in 2006 he was campaigning Michihiro Takatori. This season he will be campaigning both Robbie Nishida and Daigo Saito.

Back then, the clipping point was the K-rail so the boys got as close as they could, which means I got many shots like this one.

It’s too bad the only time these guys get to drift around the famous downtown Long Beach water fountain is during the Grand Prix weekend. It would be so awesome to see a train of ten cars go through that section.

This handsome looking RX-8 was driven by Rod Millen. When he realized he could not beat his son at his own game, he sold the Mazda to Tony Angelo.

Back then Taka Aono was a full time Falken driver. Now he is a Megan Racing driver. He is one of the few drivers who has never missed a round of Formula Drift.

One of the local guys that I got to be-friend was Casper “the friendly drifter” Canul. He started drifting on on and off ramps by my house before it became popular. Eventually he smartened up and kept his drifting to the track.

It’s crazy to see how much these drivers have progressed. Daijiro Yoshihara has always been a contender for the championship, and last year he finally reached his goal.

Rhys Millen was the 2nd driver to earn a championship back in 2005. He doesn’t drive for Pontiac anymore but he is definitely still running those Red Bull colors.

Today is the start of the 9th year of Formula Drift. To think that Professional drifting in North America is almost ten years old! I consider myself very lucky to be there in the beginning. Then again, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has been running for 96 years, and racing on the Bonneville salt flats has been going on for 98 years, which makes me think the ten year anniversary of Formula Drift is just the beginning of a drifting legacy. What do you guys think?

More retrospective stories on Speedhunters

More articles from Larry Chen



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All I want is a car feature on that 69 Camaro. Coolest car to ever compete.

Алексей Величкин

True. Ryan Hampton.


NOT CLOSE ENOUGH!!!!! hahaha


How come every car competing then was 99% cooler than everything now?


Casper canuls real name is actually gaspar canul, and he's my brother in laws brother in law if that makes sense. Its fun seeing him and taking to him, he's still drifting small time but he always talks about the big guys like Foust, yoshi, millen, and always says his biggest mistake was leaving fd. But now he's building an rhd kouki s14


what ever happend to ryan hampton!?!?!!

Алексей Величкин

May be he found a job? Haha


Yes! ^ PLEASE Someone do a feature on that FALKEN Camaro! !


Does everybody know what happened to that 69 Camaro? and where is it now?


larry chen cool photography ===


as a honda fan I loved the rsr s2000 I even got a pic in the driver seat one time - it's too bad honda doesnt think scion is doing the right thing with the tc


dude camaro sideways look wierd i dont think i like it hahaha


I like the fact that there were more variety of cars back then


thumbs up for Ali! =(


im lovin that 69 Camaro it looks sso badass


all looking at this post did was make me cry at how FD has gone all LS1s and tubed chassis. I remembered from looking at this how excited i used to get to watch an sr go up against f20 or to see sam hubinette get smashed on by calvin won when he ran his fd. When the guy with the lead didnt mean he could just stomp smoke and run his line... he had to be careful about the little hatchi behind him nosing in on his line because passing still wasnt banned as long as his line was true. How those tricky japanese guys would ebrake check the american v8s right at the transition and send all the 3500lb cars straight off their line and into a divider or a spin. D1 spawned so much an FD threw it all away with frankenstein builds of LSx's into everything you could throw a shoe horn at.


Rotary power usa!!!!


Please... I need a 1920x1080 wallpaper of that close shot of the Viper on turn 11


For whoever asked about a 69 Camaro feature, Hot Rod mag did one when the car was virtually new:


I remember the crazy Chris Cook crash...poor lime green SRT :(


Its humorous to have people wax and wane about how cool drifting in the US "used to be". GET OVER IT! I love how people stomp all over innovation. Where are all the cries about how Daigo's 2j would show FD Drivers what real drifting is?! Oh thats right, he got his a$$ handed to him by a lowly V8! Hipsters get a life. Drifting is here to stay! The future only holds brighter and better things with the Scion FRS being introduced. Doesn't matter about the power plant. That's minutiae. It matters about the drivers! JTP and JR have the same car and yet only one of them has podiumed LB twice. Doesn't matter the car, or the power, its the driver that creates the win.


agree'd with Ali these cars are just way more interesting. It was a purer time I guess when most of the drift action was emulation of Japan rather then competitive motorsport.

CBENZGO I could not agree with you less. and your statement also seems flawed. If its all down to the driver why the swaps to begin with? The teams know they are not popular with the old guard and the new drift kiddies dont care beyond it sounding cool. Its done because its competitive and cheap Many shops dont want to keep investing in imported SR's that will just go pop so they swap them for LS engines since they are so much easier to source. This is also why in Japan their are far fewer of these swaps since its the reverse that is true With V8's being mostly Lexus or Nissan sourced and even then only the bigger teams use them. Also if we are going to cry hipster I'm just going to say you could look at a fair few pics from SpeedHunters and it would seem most of these builders fall into those trends... just sayin


Also, Daigo took out two LS motors. Marstonovick and Mcquarrie, with Mcquarrie being in a very well funded new Camaro. So I dont want to hear any of this 2JZ's suck business,


Thanks for the article! Love the variety of cars competing back then.


I remember when we were standing next to each other in the hairpin and we produced some very similar shots from there, and we were comparing our wide angle shots at they nearly dusted the wall! Though I have somehow lost my entire archive of that race. You have come a long way since 2006!


Ah, back when FD had variation.....


those were the good v8s