Formula Drift readies for 10th anniversaryWed, 31 Oct 2012
Just two weeks after selling more tickets than ever at its 2012 season-ending event at Irwindale Speedway in Southern California, Formula Drift announced special 10th anniversary plans for the coming 2013 season.
“It's crazy,” Formula Drift co-founder Jim Liaw said of the series' and sanctioning body's first 10 years. “It's kind of gone by in a blur.”
That would be because it went by sideways. Drifting is the motorsport of gracefully sliding a pair of cars sideways over a paved course with the winner from each pair determined by a panel of judges, like automotive gymnastics or 700-hp synchronized swimming. The sport has been around in Japan for longer than it has in the United States but it has shown consistent fan support over the first nine years as a professional sport here under the sanctioning of Formula Drift.
“The last nine years has shown the strength of this still-growing sport,” Liaw said at the annual Formula D press conference at SEMA.
For its 10th year Formula D will add a manufacturer's championship to its seven-event calendar, with the winner required to run both an engine and a body from a production car, though engine can be tuned for greater output and the driveline configuration can be changed from front- to rear-wheel-drive to meet the needs of a drift car. There will also be a tire manufacturer's championship. A 10th-anniversary logo, video retrospective and commemorative yearbook featuring the first decade's worth of professional drifting in America is also in the making.
The sport has been remarkably steady and consistent over the years. If they all line up April 12-13 for the 2013 season opener before the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach next year, there will be six drivers who will have competed in all 10 seasons: Rhys Millen, Chris Forsberg, Dai Yoshihara, Taka Aono, Ken Gushi and Vaughn Gitten Jr.
Cars involved in the sport here range from old Nissan 240SXs and Zs to Rhys Millen's Hyundai Genesis Coupe and Vaughn Gitten Jr.'s Mustang. There have been Vipers and Camaros, too. Last season's champion, Daigo Saito, drove a Lexus SC430.
The sport hasn't threatened NASCAR for dominance, but it has experienced steady and consistent growth over the years. That's more than most sanctioning bodies can say recently.
By Mark Vaughn