Formula DRIFT kicked off the 2009 season last Saturday, and with a new race format and new rules designed to increase the number of rounds during the main event, there was plenty of action on the streets of Long Beach. In the end, last year’s champion Tanner Foust edged out Robbie Nishida for third place, and after a close final, Ryan Tuerck took home his first win of the season over Samuel Hubinette.
Cars that made their debut at the event include Tanner Foust’s new NASCAR V8 powered Scion tC, Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s new 2010 Mustang GT, and Rhys Millen’s new Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Absent from the competition was Samuel Hubinette’s new Dodge Challenger, though the team did tease it from the trailer, and it looked like it will be ready for battle soon.
Not surprisingly, Long Beach was home to a few spectacular crashes, including Ken Gushi’s slide into the wall on Friday that knocked him out of the competition, and Tommy Suell and Katsuhiro Ueo’s crash during qualifying that crushed the left side of Tommy’s AE86 and prevented him from competing. On Saturday, Conrad Grunewald smacked his Corvette into the tire wall after following Ryan Tuerck too wide into turn 10, Calvin Wan hit the wall in a solo crash while battling Ryan Tuerck, and Vaughn Gitten Jr. and Samuel Hubinette tangled heading into the final turn, leaving Gitten’s Mustang with a bit of a nose job and Hubinette’s Viper with a crumpled rim.
Formula DRIFT now heads to Road Atlanta for Round 2 on May 8th and 9th, and judging by what was seen at Long Beach, the 2009 season is going to be a good one.
(Also be sure to check out the full gallery at my Flickr page.)