Hi-Res Drifter: The Art Of Chen

If someone came up to me ten years ago and told me that I would eventually take pictures of car culture for a living I would have told them they were crazy. It would have been even more insane if someone told me that I would shoot drifting for a living – my head would have exploded. ‘It’s not possible’ I would yell, then BOOM! Head gone, like a firecracker in a watermelon…


Along with my regular Speedhunting duties, I am the official Formula Drift photographer, and have been since the 2012 season. Back in 2004 when I started taking pictures of drifting, I would have not thought in my wildest dreams that I would end up travelling all over the world following dudes getting sideways in their cars.


Over the years I have met many key individuals in the community that I now call my friends, including Matt Powers, who of course has stepped back from sport for the time being. People come and go, but I can guarantee that I will be there until the bitter end.


To kick off the 11th season of Formula Drift, I decided it would be a good idea to release a few shots for print that I have taken over the years. And that said, every single one of the images you see in this post is now available to purchase in large format A1 (594mm x 841mm / 24 x 33 inches), or A3 (297mm x 420mm / 12 x 17 inches) size via the Speedhunters Store.


It is the ballet or figure skating of motorsports after all. It’s beautiful.


It’s also destructive. There goes Ms. Pac-Man. What has she ever done to you Matt Field? Why are you so cruel?


Yes, very destructive indeed. I think the Saturn Sky drift cars driven by Darren McNamara were some of the best looking cars to ever grace this sport.


They were driven proper hard, which resulted in some of my all-time favorite photos from Formula Drift.


I love this sort of thing and I wish Formula Drift would do it more often. There’s something about seeing pro drift cars on the street that is so right.


Along with FD in North America, I’ve shot drifting in many other countries. Off the top of my head, that’s included China, Thailand, South Africa, Ireland, England, Malaysia, Japan, Germany, Australia, Norway and the UAE.


Still, I don’t think anything compares to the level of competition in Formula Drift.


The best drivers from all over the world want to come over and compete with talented FD drivers.


I shot this back in 2010 at Infineon Raceway. The drivers hated that track for drifting and the paddock was too small, but I loved it.


Teams come and go, but with photographers like myself there to capture it, the legacy that they’ve left behind is forever.


After driving for so many years, Kenny Moen finally got his first podium this past weekend. The skill has always been there and I guess the stars just had to align for him to nab that 2nd place step.


It’s crazy to think that there are still a handful of drivers who have been with the series since the very first event. Drivers like Chris Forsberg have made it to every one of them, which is 65 Pro championship rounds spread over the course of 11 years.


So much has happened since I snapped this photo in 2011 at Gatebil Rudskogen.


Not only has the festival has grown exponentially, it’s garnered quite a bit of international recognition.


Every year it seems more and more star FD drivers are making their way over to the epic event.


Of course, it helps that Gatebil has the ultimate unofficial ambassador in Fredric ‘The Norwegian Hammer’ Aasbø.


In recent years drifting has grown so much thanks to this ultimate tire shredder too. I just love the way the chunks of smoke escape from all the orifices of Daigo Saito’s Lexus SC430.


Just like in most forms of motorsports, if your car is damaged or not functioning properly, you continue to drive to your best abilities. This was a perfect example of Daijiro Yoshiara’s car in limp mode, but he was still pushing super-hard to finish the course.


By now you guys will know that remote shots are my guilty pleasure. I just love the way it captures a car in drift from the chase car’s perspective.


One of the coolest aspects of the sport is the fact that it is still relatively accessible. Sometimes privateers are the most interesting guys to follow, and have some of the coolest looking cars.


Even though I may not always agree with some of the more extravagant liveries in drifting, I have to hand it to teams who find the right balance.


I’ve been lucky to work with the biggest names in the sport. And in American professional drifting none is bigger than Vaughn Gittin Jr.


I had the idea in my head about mixing fire with drifting a long time ago, but I never could figure out a way to execute it. Trust Vaughn to come up with such a crazy plan though – it certainly made for some epic shots.


I love shooting drifting at night. There are so many cool elements in play when headlight beams shine through the tire smoke.


I think Mad Mike Whiddett builds some of the best-looking drift cars in the world. His 4-rotor FD3S RX-7 is no exception.


I always mention this, but one of the main reasons why I love drifting is because the wide variety of cars that are built to go sideways. I just love the way this R34 Skyline looks, and the fact that it has smoke billowing out from behind it just makes it that much cooler.


Why can’t Daigo Saito build a replica of his Formula Drift Asia car for North American competition? I think this is one of the best-looking cars in competition today.


When it comes to professional drifting, there is no place in the world that is more iconic than Irwindale Speedway.


The House of Drift has so much history, and it’s also where D1GP first set foot on American soil. I just love it.


It’s almost as if it was a purpose-built drift track, right outside of Los Angeles. It’s too bad the community is constantly wondering if we will continue to have this venue for years to come.


Even Ken Block drifted its famous banked corners. He actually linked the course once – in an all-wheel drive rally car no less. Just amazing!


As I get more into aerial drift photography it really intrigues me to see how the smoke patterns look depending on what car is drifting.


It pretty much all looks the same from eye-level. It’s just a big puffy cloud.


Once elevated and hit with perfect light, the smoke pops. If you have not noticed already, I think the smoke trail makes or breaks the photo.


I had to sneak in one photo of another one of my favorite cars that is currently competing. Fredric Aasbø’s Formula Drift Asia ZN6 powered by a NASCAR motor. Such a wild build for such a wild driver.


I am going to leave you with this shot of Daigo Saito followed closely by Conrad Grunewald. I think this shot sums up everything that is awesome about drifting. The damage to Daigo’s car, the commitment of Conrad following so closely and of course the rivalry that these two drivers have. Not to mention that tire smoke, which of course is its own entity. I feel like I have to photograph it as if it is an extension of the drift car itself.

BOOM! Head exploded…

If you think any of these shots would look good on your wall, head over to the store and check out Larry Chen Drift Photos Collection now.



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I think wall scrapes are cool but bashing the whole quarter panel makes me cringe, those nice cars being damaged, I don't know how they can do this!


Best drifters in the world are from japan. Let's be honest.


youre ignorant


Hey Larry, have you considered using a drone for some of your shots? Might get some more interesting remote shots that way.


Great collection of shots Larry, keep up the amazing work!


RIP Larry Chen. Head explosions are the leading cause of deaths in motorsport photographers.


I wish I had your job so must lol


I too share this sentiment.


Only negative about Formula drift over the Japanese series is the amount of tire smoke the US series puts out.  I know this isn't the case, but it makes it appear that all you need is some big hp and a handbrake and you're drifting.  The Japanese series seems to be more about control and finesse.


@Beany I always preferred D1 to FD.  I feel D1 has more finesse and something else I cant quite put my finger on but I dont get the same enjoyment watching FD.  Also, I disagree with a lot of the calls the judges make in FD.  But dont get me wrong, I still love FD...just not as much as D1 lol


All your photos are true inspiration. Hope to see you in Homestead. YOUR THE MAN LARRY CHEN!


Such art.  Many drifting. So Chen.


matttdrewww  you're in denial.


sean klingelhoefer wow




They are designed for this :)

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Epic! Well done Master Chen!


He has a small drone now ;)


sean klingelhoefer  Not enough Klingelhoefer.


SchmittaMane  I like D1 as well, but when half the field gets 100 point runs....


LouisYio  Weirdo.


wheatgod  Haha, but American cars get destroyed from drag racing.


RodChong  You lie.


These are amazing,  masterful done pics. As always, I have enjoyed everything Larry photographs.
You Sir,  are one of my favorites.


Ok I lie. He has learned how to jump REALLY high from a Kung Fu master.


Amazing work!


Great Work Man! Congratulation... I love You'r Work so much master Chen !


Dang Larry!


Larry Chen sean klingelhoefer  A little Klingelhoefer goes a long way lol.




What's the light source on the last pic of Saito and Grunewald? It almost looks like there's a strobe in between the two cars or something?


Wait, does Team NFS still exist?


sean klingelhoefer  Good Form  Amaze


ae70 matttdrewww  The best drifters are not from japan nor are they from any other country in the world. Anyone who has the right mindset and dedication can become a great drifter but you have to try. Some may have to try less and some will have to drive at least seven hours just to get to the nearest drift event but to become a truly great drifter you have to love it with all of your soul and put your soul into your work (unless you're a ginger, then use other peoples' souls. See what i did there, no, ok).


RodChong  yes they are but i would much rather see someones car kiss the wall than try to eat it


Nathan Parton  It was the sun. Right behind Conrad is a very thick forest, and the sun was shining through an opening between the forest and the grandstands.


JonathanJuanDaSilva  Thanks for the kind words and for the support as always.


Larry Chen Thanks for the reply - I wondered if it was the sun but it looked so low & narrow. Great shot :)


Nathan Parton Yeah, it was just dumb luck timing if anything.


good  best


Superb photos, but not hi res enough for a triple monitor setup... :( It would look too awesome, if only the width of the pic was around 4000px...


Totally amazing !!!!!!!