In The Moment: Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

It’s been a long time coming.

While I can’t say that I had the same level of confidence of those on social media in advance of the Formula Drift season opener at Long Beach this weekend, I can’t say I’m surprised at the outcome either. For over a decade, I’ve watched James Deane evolve into what I believe is the best drifter on the planet. His resume will tell you that: four times Irish champion, four times European champion. His dominance in Europe cannot be disputed.

2017 ITM Formula D Long Beach James Deane Speedhunters Round 1 by Paddy McGrath-5
2017 ITM Formula D Long Beach James Deane Speedhunters Round 1 by Paddy McGrath-2

But, and there is one, there was no guarantee that James’s talent would transfer across the vast Atlantic ocean and into the top pro series in the world. Formula D is a series unlike any I’ve ever attended before. The standard of build and driver is without rival. The last few days here in Long Beach have changed everything I thought I knew about pro-level drifting.

There are no easy wins here and to make it to the top step of the podium, Deane had to overcome Essa, Forsberg and Tuerck before defeating Heilbrunn in the final. There were no one more times required; it was a straight and clean-cut victory. It was a performance the likes of which has only been seen once before in Formula D by one Daigo Saito.

There’s a lot more to come, but for now, it’s time to celebrate.

Paddy McGrath
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Facebook: Paddy McGrath



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It was an absolute clinical display of driving, every lead run was near an exact copy of the run previous right from his qualifying runs

Richard Clayderman

exactly; it was kinda boring

Andreas Hveding Housecity

Deane was driving flawless and smooth during the whole weekend imo,so well deserved.


Someone needs to get Luke Fink in a reliable car to spice up the competition


indeed....actually after digesting this whole FD weekend, he ran thru my mind. I think he'll bring some more of the attitude and rawness indeed.


Agreed. That new e46 of his sounds heavenly regardless.


Heavenly or not, if you can't get the Beamer to the finish then it's time to move on to more proven platforms. I've always said the only reason to pick a bmw in ANYTHING is that it is a bmw, nothing more.


All American sponsors actually all sponsors "Take Note" the entire Drift World was watching one man, one machine, JAMES DEANE, the buzz on social media was somthing never seen before, from New Zeland, Oz, Europe, and Ireland, all sit up or got up to watch Fd last night, and James has taken our sport to a new level which can only be good for everyone in the Drift family...... Great work Paddy.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Consistent drifting throughout the whole weekend! While some people might moan about "Mr. Stylish Drift" Forrest Wang leaving FD, James' style is easily a good replacement. I hope he clinches the championship this year!


I hoped to see battles between Deane and Wang haha


Love the fact that he won with no tricks, no brake checks (visibly anyways), and straight up great driving. In a sea filled with cars more suited for rally I'm glad to see a stylish car that also sits nice can be victorious in the end. Congrats on the victory


As a rally enthusiast I can confidently say these cars couldn't finish a stage or two. They're definitely drift cars, worlds of difference in rally and drift cars


Don't take comments so literally lol, I was just referencing how high some of these cars sit

Paul M Skelly Jr.

What really surprised me was his composure during his chase run against Forsberg. I was expecting him to either scrub it or smack right into him, but no, he held it together and followed through. True talent.


He truly looked like the best drifter in the world in all of his runs. He is amazingly consistent.




Paddy, I just wanted to say the colors are awesome in this set. I also love the contrast in the shot of the s15 from the back. That shadow on the ground adds so much drama! I'm not really that much of a drift fan but these photos are wonderful to look at.


I gotta hand it to Deane. I've only been able to watch the qualifying round so far, but I can definitely tell how skilled he is. The last time I saw such a high level of repeatability was with Petter Solberg during the WGC in Greece. Guys that can drive like that on every run are truly skilled.


Congrats! The only doubts there could be were mechanical issues or FD judges not liking his chase style.

Heilbrunn in the final showed the best of USA drifting, Deane replied that Formula D is highly overrated.


Unbelievable! From watching the build up to this I think its astonishing, from such a humble background this guy has gone stateside and blown em away. So happy for him, stick sheer talent in an S chassis = unstoppable ;-)


James Deane not only brought his talent, but it seemed like he brought an entire show. There wasn't just 1 or 2 good drives by other drivers, the entire field was on fire. This was an epic show. This weekend's drifting indeed was a spectator sport and it felt like all shared the same awesome vibe. It ain't as much about power and parts anymore....the driver is back to being the greatest mod. Brilliant show from the drivers. Kudos FD

Jordan Butters

While those of use who have known James and seen him drive over the past few years knew he was a force to be reckoned with, no-one could be sure just how those skills and that style would translate into Formula D. As we all found out at the weekend it turns out pretty damn well.

What impressed me most was that James completely stuck to his ethics about not using an kind of dirty tricks to gain an advantage (which couldn't be said for the rest of the field). Plainly and simply, he out-drove everyone.


I completely agree. I think the FD drivers knew he was going to set a high standard and prepared for it but I don't think they expected him to come out at 100% on the first round. Aside from Daigo, no other driver from another series has been able to make such a huge impact on the first round of the FD series like James has. FD Orlando will be pretty interesting to say the least.


Hey everyone


Hey guys, I love speed n drifting on this


His talent and consistency, matched with the sheer number of times he turned up to an unknown track somewhere in Europe and straight out of the box out qualified everyone, even the locals, would mean he would no doubt be a force to be reckoned with. But a brand new build, on a relatively speaking new surface to him, in operating temperatures relatively new to him, at that level, it was going to be a huge task to even complete the weekend. Everything he may have known of Long Beach or FD from a very distant past in a low power s body can be written off, the game had changed that much it would be an irrelevance. He was effectively a rookie to FD once more.

Qualifying: The mans absolute talent, consistency and smooth inch perfect driving showed through. This is the form that has earned him his dominance in Europe, his ability to adapt to the limits that quick. Just the limit, not over. Outstanding.

Only bettered (barely) by imo better equipment, watching that Mustang, it's setup, ease of snappy quick transition and pure grip proved what would be expected, this is a different level of build, technology and budget, this is the big league.

Competition day: Worry not, the mans absolute smooth, calm repeatable precision shone through. Perfect repeatable lead runs and mirror image chase runs. While some brought big runs, perfect sectors etc, none brought it all every run.

Paddy was right to hold back on getting his hopes up. A brand new build, while I'm sure very well spec'd, I've no doubt in classic Deane build style is not outrageous or ground breaking, simply enough. Against big teams with major manufacturer backing, home advantage, data and sheer budget. That is what makes what Deane and the Worthouse drift team have achieved here so admirable.

If there was ever any doubt it's just been silenced, you are looking at one of if not 'the' greatest drifters of all time at work.


Well written, sir! Agree on all points.



There's no other way to describe that series of runs.