The Streets of Long Beach is a world renowned drift course, much like what Daytona is to NASCAR, and what Monaco is to Formula One. Many, if not all, competitive and leisure drifters have dreams of mastering this course sometime in their lifetime. Formula Drift begins each season on the Streets of Long Beach, which brings an end to anticipation and months of preparation. Anything could happen here… a great beginning to a successful season could be had, or disaster could strike at any of the turns and ruin a season in a few seconds. Throwing caution to the wind, a circus of extremely prepared teams arrived in Long Beach, and the 2017 Formula Drift season has begun. The Streets of Long Beach have a cruel habit of sorting out who is ready to ride walls, and who isn’t.
The big stories heading into the start of the season were Chelsea Denofa joining Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s team, James Deane making a return to the states, rookies Piotr Wiecek and Georgy Chivchyan aka Gocha making their US debuts, Fredric Aasbo jumping in a Toyota iM chassis further continuing his ties with the automaker, Alec Hohnadell and Matt Coffman teaming up, Matt Field and Odi Bakchis bringing the iconic Falken blue and green livery back, and Alex Heilbrunn, Dan Burkett, and Nate Hamilton making the jump from Pro 2 to the Pro ranks.
2017 is shaping up to be a visually appealing year for the fans. Most, if not all, cars are looking sweet and attractive. Metallic graphics are in, and liveries are looking rad and fresh. Teams have seemed to rid themselves of flat liveries which have plagued the grid for several years, and focused on creating rides that will win the hearts of fans on the North American tour this year.
The top qualifier was Vaughn Gittin Jr., who laid down a nearly perfect run resulting in a score of 97. VGJr filled every touch and go with authoritative perfection, knocking current top qualifier James Deane to second. Vaughn’s first Top 32 battle would be with nobody, driving against himself with a bye run.