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Formula Drift at Long Beach – Click above for high-res image gallery

While many forms of motorsports are cutting back with less sponsorship money and fewer teams, Formula Drift actually grew this year with a bigger list of entrants and plenty of brand new cars. For the opening event in Long Beach, CA, Rhys Millen brought out his Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Tanner Foust traded in his 350Z for a NASCAR-powered Scion tC, and Vaughn Gittin Jr. upgraded his Mustang to a 2010 model. In the end, though, a pair of older cars landed a spot in the finals with Sam Hubinette in his NuFormz Racing / Mopar Dodge Viper SRT10 challenging Ryan Tuerck in his Gardella Racing / Mobil 1 Pontiac Solstice for the top spot. It was Tuerck who was victorious in the drifting duel, who captured his first ever Formula D win and took the initial points lead in the 2009 season. We've put together two high-res galleries, one for practice and qualifying and another for the main day of competition. Hit the jump for more details on the opening race of the 2009 Formula Drift season.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc


Long Beach, Calif. – April 11, 2009 – Formula DRIFT Round 1: Streets of Long Beach kicks off their 6th championship season to a sell-out crowd. Ryan Tuerck and the Gardella Racing / Mobil 1 Pontiac Solstice took home the victory and leads the 2009 Professional Championship Point Standings.

The Long Beach Grand Prix Street Course hosted the season opening event to a standing room only crowd. The infamous track is the only course that is held on actual city streets making it one of the more unique drifting courses in the nation. The 2009 season included the addition of the veteran driver, Tony Angelo, as a new judge to the series. It also marked the first 2-day event structure of the season and the change of competition formats. This season will be the first time a Top 32 format will be utilized in the Pro Championship series creating more drifting competition rounds and more action for the fans.

"Despite the current economic state, Formula DRIFT has continued to push forward and the success of this season opening event has proved that drifting has continued to grow," said Ryan Sage, vice president of marketing and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. "Without the support of the fans, teams, and sponsors Formula DRIFT would not have been able to pull off this exciting event and we look forward to the rest of the 2009 season."

The event showcased some of the most exciting drifting to date and the introduction of the Top 32 competition format brought a new element to the event and more action. The season opening event unveiled a few highly anticipated vehicles including Rhys Millen and the Red Bull / RMR Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Vaughn Gittin Jr. and the 2010 Falken Tire Ford Mustang GT, and returning champion Tanner Foust in the Rockstar Scion Racing tC, who finished in third place after a very intense and close battle with Robbie Nishida in the Hankook Tire / Dynamic Autosport Nissan 350Z in the consolation round. The finals pitted 2-time Formula DRIFT champion, Samuel Hubinette in the NuFormz Racing / Mopar Dodge Viper against Ryan Tuerck and the Gardella Racing / Mobil 1 Pontiac Solstice. Tuerck edged out Hubinette with very consistent driving throughout the event taking the first victory of the season.

"It's an amazing feeling starting the season off on top," stated Ryan Tuerck, Round 1: Streets of Long Beach winner and driver of the Gardella Racing / Mobil 1 Pontiac Solstice. "This isn't a one man show and I wouldn't have been able to do it without the support of the Gardella Racing / Mobil 1 Pontiac Solstice team. It's very satisfying to stand at the top of such a talented field of competitors."

The 2009 Formula DRIFT season continues on May 8-9 in Braselton, GA at Road Atlanta for Round 2: Proving Ground. Tickets are on-sale now.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Less drifting and more cowbell please! Seriously drifting is not a sport.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Neither is NASCAR. I don't consider anything with a car a sport.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why does everyone complain when AB posts stories about Formula D? Whether or not you like the sport, it involves cars in a competition... ie. motorsport, and AB covers it.

      I hate Nascar, but I don't spam my opinion in the comments, complaining that I had to spend an extra 3 seconds to scroll past the article I didn't want to read.

      Grow up AB readers.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Lmao @ Matt, that's a great comparison even though drift is ok in my book. But yea Namir I agree
        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually, drifting is NOT a Motorsport to me. Why do I say that? Because:

        "Formula D drivers are scored on a points-deduction system where every driver will start their judged run with a perfect score of 100 pts. For every mistakes, points will be deducted. These points will vary between .25 point to the most severe mistakes (-1.75)."

        It isn't about lining up and seeing who the fastest car/driver combo is getting from point a to point b. Every other ACTUAL Motorsport from Rally to Circle Track is based on the premise of the winner being the fastest. Drifting violates that basic premise, therefore just because it involves cars, it shouldn't be called a Motorsport.

        That doesn't mean you can't like drifting, it just means you shouldn't put in the same catagory as every other racing competition when the basic premise is completely different.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Beautifully put, Matt, ...beautifully put
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why is it that the first people to comment on posts about drifting are the haters?

      And where is this "enough about drifting" thing coming from? Because uh...this is the first round of 2009..its not like Autoblog has been bombarded with drift posts dude

      Before this the majority of Autoblog posts have been about the current condition of the former Big three and the NY Auto show..

      Anyway enough entertaining the non-understanders. The event was great, the new cars were awesome and despite economic conditions the venue was almost sold out.

      Good stuff

        • 6 Years Ago
        Show me a RWD Production Scion tC that I can buy at ANY Dealership. Anybody Anyone?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Enough about drift-Nooooboody cares, love the site, enough drift crap already.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think Falken has the best looking cars, period. Not that that necessarily matters, but I can't remember seeing a car from them that I didn't like.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Damn it!! You mean I missed it ?!?!?!?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yea whats up with all the hate. I love drifting and seeing it in action done by great drivers is an art. Keep up the coverage AB!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Look at Me...I can slide sideways and ware my tires out faster then YOU...

      What a waste of time.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Don't make me bring out the red marker!!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Do you mean WEAR your tires out faster?
      • 6 Years Ago
      red car in pic 32...what is it?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Holy crap that 240sx looks beat to hell. Oh I love Nissans
        • 6 Years Ago
        Nissan Silvia S15
      • 6 Years Ago
      Good for Pontiac!
      • 6 Years Ago
      What's up with all the haters??
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't see how you can say drifting isn't a motor sport. Look up the definition of the words motor and sport and then try and say it isn't a motor sport.

      I think what people mean to say is that it isn't auto racing, which nobody said it was.

      Saying that a site related to auto news shouldn't cover the only motor sport that is actually growing is just a wee bit silly in my opinion.
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