Formula Drift Slides Into Long Beach

Picture it: Two souped-up Japanese cars slipping and sliding their way side-by-side, smoking their tires through an industrial port complex, getting points for both speed and just how close to the edge of disaster they can get.

Sounds like that game you need to pick up for your Playstation 3? Nope, it’s what you can do this weekend.

Formula Drift, the professional arm of the drifting/racing craze that has spawned movies (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) and video games, comes smoking and screeching into the Port of Long Beach this weekend for the first ever Red Bull Drifting World Championship.

“We are excited to be able to team up with Red Bull to bring the world together and stage the toughest competition with the best drivers,” stated Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula Drift.

Drifting started in Japan, where drivers started breaking every rule of traditional racing — style and how you control your slide through a turn matters more than pure speed. Burning rubber seems to at times envelopes the cars and drivers, who are trying to impress judges that determine their fate through a tournament-like competition.

It has fast become a worldwide craze with Formula Drift being one of the highlights of the undercard at more traditional racing events such as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

For the World Championships, Formula Drift wanted that gritty urban, industrial feel for a course — enter the Port of Long Beach. The course that has been set up is unlike anything drifting has seen, with a long straight-away so cars can enter a turn at more than 100 mph, a big, sweeping first turn, with multiple, technically challenging turns to follow.


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The idea of racing in the shadow of huge cranes and stacked containers proved a big draw, racers from United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Norway, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Canada.

 “It is an exciting time for the sport of drifting… now drivers will be challenged like never before in a completely different environment than we’re used to,” said Rhys Millen, 2005 Formula Drift champion.

Spectators will be able to get closer to the action on this specially-designed course than one normally wants to be to a car skidding almost out of control.

The event runs Saturday and Sunday. Tickets and information are available online (and you can buy tickets at the gate, too).

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