It feels like it was just yesterday that we were kicking off the 2018 Formula Drift season, but here we are in Long Beach, California again, ready to get another championship underway.
In the lead up to 2019’s opening round, I stopped by FD’s Media Day to catch some of the action before the madness of the weekend begins.
The off season is a time for teams to modify, totally overhaul, and sometimes replace cars and strategies altogether.
While six months of downtime might sound like more than enough for a team to prepare for the season start, most end up testing only days before the first round.
Those that are really cutting it fine end up testing at the Media Day, three days before the actual event starts, or miss it completely in order to finish their cars.
Formula Drift’s Media Day gives both traditional and season media the opportunity to get up close and personal with FD Pro series drivers and cars on the unique street course in the heart of Long Beach.
Familiar faces filled the paddock as drivers and teams put the final touches to their cars.
Many of the new Pro drivers had yet to show up at the track, and unless they had run the course before at an event like Motegi Super Drift, they weren’t allowed to run on Media Day.
Some of the new faces this year include Washington-born and all round good guy Dylan Hughes, Brazilian driver João Barion, Australian driver Mitch Larner, FD Pro2 champion Travis Reeder, Italian drift champion Manuel Vacca, and Pat Goodin making a comeback.
The smell of fuel and burning tires, the sound of a wastegates dumping and motors bouncing off their rev limiters – these are just some of the things that will overwhelm your senses at a drift event. However, the times are changing: Meet the first ever, all-electric FD drift car.
Run by Napoleon Motorsports and piloted by Pro rookie Travis Reeder, this Camaro is totally different from anything else in the FD paddock.
While it wasn’t allowed to run on Media Day due to a few complications that I’ll get to in another story from this event, I can’t wait to see how an electric drift car changes the status quo of pro-level drifting.
One of the big changes for many drivers this year is the addition of N2O. While nitrous oxide isn’t new to the sport by any means, there are more cars using it now, including the RTR Mustangs and Federico’s Ferrari to name a few.
On the hunt for his fourth Formula Drift championship title, Chris Forsberg returns this year with an R35 GT-R’s VR38DETT engine in his 370Z.
We’re yet to see any new A90 Toyota Supras in Formula Drift, but I’m sure it will happen soon.
One of my favourite parts of Media Day is the rare opportunity to go for a ride-along on a professional circuit.
Who can say no to 80mph sideways?
Something else new for this season is a specially made tire for Nitto Tire’s Formula Drift drivers, which was designed around the Mustang RTRs. This is a good thing for the Mustang drivers, but everyone else on the Nitto team is running the same rubber and has been forced to add ballast and make adjustments to run the much wider tire.
The scene has been set in Long Beach, and we can’t wait for the event to start properly today with qualifying. Stay tuned for event coverage from Trevor and I over the coming days.