The Formula Drift season started on Friday in Long Beach, CA with 60 cars and drivers--including 19 rookies--vying to make the field of 32 for Saturday's eliminations.
Formula Drift competitors use the final three turns of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach circuit, turns 9 through 11 and are scored on their lines through each corner, their setups for the next turn, angle of attack and speed.
Practice began an hour late in the morning and that made for a long day, with final practice for the qualified 32 starting well after 5PM and moving the autograph session even farther beyond the intended start time.
After each driver made two attempts to impress the three judges, it was Ryan Tuerck atop the standings with a score of 97 in his Nissan S13.5. As he put it, "Being back in an S chassis is like going back to my roots; I feel right at home."
Rhys Millen took second in his Hyundai Genesis with a score of 96 and Vaughn Gittin Jr was third with a score of 95 in his Ford Mustang, followed by teammate Justin Pawlak in another Mustang.
The grandstands were crowded, the weather cooperated with sunshine and mild temperatures and, while some competitors left wings and front or rear valances through the course there was no extreme damage. Of the rookies, five of those 19 made the cut and will race on Saturday, when more sunshine and high 70s temperatures are forecast for perfect racing conditions. The round of 32 begins at 11AM while the round of 16 do battle starting at 3:30PM