Deane X Więcek: Picking Up The Pieces by Speedhunters

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In some ways, I’m glad the first defeat has come.

There was a lot of hype about the arrival of the Worthouse Drift Team in Formula Drift for the 2017 season. Two new drivers on the grid, two new cars and a lot of unknowns. James’ victory in Long Beach was proof for many that he could walk the walk, although for some, his immediate success was enough for them to overturn their longtime support, instead preferring to take the more trendy view of him being overhyped and his win being a one-off.

Some of the things that I heard and read after Long Beach certainly elicited a laugh or two, including one claiming he had an advantage because the car was right-hand drive. Others, who previously sung his praises were now chomping at the bit, eager for his failure. Wait until he gets to the ovals they said…

2017 FD02 Orlando Worthouse Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-1

It just happened that Round 2 this year is an oval circuit, with the Orlando Speed World venue having swapped places with Road Atlanta in the Formula D schedule. One ex-Formula D competitor warned me in advance that OSW made Ireland’s Rosegreen – itself a tiny short oval in rural Tipperary – look like Talladega.

2017 FD02 Orlando Worthouse Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-2

It was an over exaggeration, of course, but we were certainly a long way from the well groomed streets of Long Beach. Orlando is the first stop on a tour which takes in four corners of the United States, a trip across to Canada, along with a round in the heart of Texas. Leaving the familiarity of California behind, it felt like we were about to enter the real war for the Formula Drift Championship.

2017 FD02 Orlando Worthouse Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-3

It was certainly less glamorous in Florida, but we were not there for the scenery. By the time I arrived on Thursday morning, the Bridges Racing crew already had a foothold established in the paddock. With the Orlando round also being a Pro 2 event, it meant an extra day of practice for all Pro 1 competitors.

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Deane’s Domination: Behind The Scenes At FD LB

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10 years, 6 months, 1 week, 5 hours, 31 minutes, 55 seconds. That’s how long it took for James Deane to go from his first competitive drift event as an amateur to the top step of the podium for the first time at Formula Drift in Long Beach.

Before last weekend, a lot of people would have said this victory, maybe the most significant of his career, was inevitable. I wouldn’t have argued with them, but I know from experience that victory in motorsport is never guaranteed. It certainly does not come easy.

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Formula Drift 2017 Season Opener – James Deane Returns By What Monsters Do

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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.

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