Top 32 Recap-FD Long Beach Rd 1


By:Devon Bartholomew

Round 1….FIGHT!!!

Ready or not, Here I come… 

Prep time is over for the 2019 season of Formula Drift, which officially kicked off on Wednesday 3rd of April. Designated as FD’s Media Day, where shutters, lenses and poses are the mainstay of the day, the media was given free reign to photograph and ride-along with many pro class drivers who came to show off fresh liveries, but also use it as a cheat day for testing on the walled street course of Long Beach.Notes: Drivers were told by the judges to not initiate door on door but rather on the rear quarter panel of the lead car such that it does not compromise the line into outer zone 1.

Before a wheel could even be turned, Napoleon Motorsports’ 1st ever, all electric Chevrolet Camaro was denied entry not by FD officials, but by the city of LB itself. Electric vehicles are not permitted to compete with gasoline vehicles on “track” and thus since this is not an actual racetrack, it violates the city’s ordinance. Travis Reeder then hopped into his old pro 2 machine despite being underpowered to most of the pro class.

Ryan Tuerck loses his power steering as he goes full throttle at the touch n’ go and hits the wall head-on hard. Bruised and concussed, he has to bow out of competition.


For many years there has been 1 name synonymous with a short field that we have all grown to dislike, “Bye Run”. However with more than 32 drivers on the entry list, it seems that Bye Run’s reign is over.

Matt Field throws it down hard, nailing a 99 pt run and taking the Top Qualifier award. 

Top 32

Matt Field Vs Jeff Jones 

Jeff is quietly making strides in his 370z, improving every event, however Jeff’s transmission fell on his hand prior to qualifying. Stitched and bandaged he still went at the #1 qualifier, losing out in his follow run where he didn’t fully engage the touch n go and missed the 2nd outer zone. Field moves on.

Matt Coffman Vs Ken Gushi 

Gushi is aggressive entering on Matt’s door. Coffman does not fill the touch n go and he let’s up on the 2nd outer zone but Gushi is too close, rubs the s13 and has to re-adjust to match. 

Ken’s aggression continues in his lead and he fills the zones strongly, gapping Coffman but then Coffman shuts it down and straightens into the last inner clip. Gushi advances.

Chris Forsberg Vs Dirk Stratton 

Dirk washes out following Forsberg into the 1st turn and is never really a threat. He tries to regain lost distance, shallowing his line and diving into the last corner, but straightens and takes out the last clip. 

Forsberg of old shows and he mimics Dirk’s lead, even using more angle at times and ending the run side by side. Forsberg gets the win.

Chelsea Denofa Vs Pat Goodin

Probably the scariest driver to do up against, Chelsea through down wall to wall bumper dragging at extreme angle and speed. Pat has to shallow up to even maintain distance. On run 2, Chelsea gives Pat some distance but Pat puts on a pretty good run in the lead but misses the 2nd outer zone, where Chelsea put that purple nose back on his door to the finish. Chelsea moves on.


Daijiro Yoshihara Vs Sebatien Gauthier

Dai puts on a strong lead. Gauthier shuts down halfway through his follow but then picks it back up. Dai gives Gauthier some space and gets lost in the smoke, runs up on a turning Gauthier, hits him and spins out. Judges have to compare lead to lead, calling a OMT in the process.


Dai keeps it tight, keeps it right and puts on a very good lead. Gauthier has issues from the 1st turn to the last, dropping out of drift and missing the zones. Gauthier calls his 5 minutes but is unable to return to the line.

Dai gets a bye.


Justin Pawlak Vs Alec Hohnadell

Justin puts on his signature big angle in the lead, Alec has a straighten and reinitiates and closes back on JTP’s door. In Alec’s lead he sets himself up for the 1st turn, but JTP comes in too hot, backing it in and slapping Alec’s rear quarter panel with his, then more side by side contact as they both try to maintain control. Alec keeps it going but the front tires on both cars make contact, hopping JTP into the air whilst pushing Alec towards the fence. Alec pulls it off the wall in a spin and both stop. OMT called. But Alec’s car is properly damaged. 


Already battered they re-enter the fray. JTP puts down a solid lead and alec follows with some small corrections, but gathers it back up to surge onto the mustang’s door and as they transition for the final turn, Alec’s car grips up and understeers, sending him the wrong way into the final turn. Alec doesn’t return for his 2nd run. 

JTP is into the main event.

Odi Bachkis Vs Federico Sceriffo

Odi throws down a textbook lead run. Federico, now nitrous fed, drops into formation behind but it seems that the Ferrari now has the speed to compete. Federico transitions early, compromising his line a little but he slides up door to door with Odi then backs off to transition for the final turn. 

Federico does a decent lead but shorts the 2nd outer zone and takes out the last clip. Odi maintains a small gap behind but mimics Federico’s line. Odi moves on.


Mike Essa Vs Mitch Larner

Essa initiates out front but dials back the angle significantly off throttle, allowing the Australian in the Get Nuts rental s14 to not only gain proximity but also go deeper in the touch n’ go. Mitch doesn’t follow Essa out to outer zone 2 and then center punches the final inner clip. 

Mitch does a pretty decent  job navigating the course, not entirely filling the zones but not doing a bad job at his 1st FD event either. Essa follows the lead car’s line albeit with a buffer.

Essa takes it.


James Deane Vs. Kyle Mohan

James nails his lead run in his typical high level precision. Kyle, not having much practice time, shuts it down before the 1st turn, rendering an incomplete. Kyle calls for his 5 minute time out.

Kyle does a slow roll into the 1st corner and James is already on him. Kyle is far from the walls and James is showing dominance in follow. Then on the final turn, James is too aggressive diving in and bump Kyle into a spin. The judges state that Kyle slowed too much even though it was a deceleration zone, went off line and that choked James up.

James into the next round

Jhonnattan Castro Vs Dean Kearney

Castro out front looks pretty game for this season although he misses most of the clips and outer zones. Dean is right there every step and even gives him a little nudge to remind him that vipers do strike. 

Dean has a pretty decent lead doing everything he should but Castro is there, sacrificing his line a bit to remain on Dean’s door. He means business! On the last turn, Castro loses it, taps Dean and spins out.

Dean moves on.

Ryan Tuerck Vs Ryan Litteral

With Tuerck stuffing his gt86 into the wall and declaring it irreparable, Litteral gets a bye into top 16 in his revamped koruworks 350z.

Frederic Aasbo Vs Dan Burkett

Aasbo has that little Corolla dialed, measuring the wall as he passes. Dan is close behind on initiation but backs off too early, shortening his line and missing the outer zone that Aasbo filled. They transition and Aasbo continues his crazy lead, filling the zones. However because Dan transitioned early behind Aasbo, he has to shorten his line again into outer zone 2 and ends up on the inside, missing the zone completely, but surges up very close to Aasbo in the final turn to the finish.

Dan’s showing more and more confidence in his driving but his runs are “safe” i.e. his  lead isn’t bad, but he’s a bit off the zones. And with Aasbo shadowing his every move and remaining close, there’s little Dan can claw back to change the judge’s mind of who did better. This time!

Aasbo into the main show.


Piotr Wiecek Vs Austin Meeks

Piotr was fast out of the start chicane, immediately gapping Austin. Piotr then basically painted all the walls with the rear of his s15 in a stellar lead run. Austin just could not keep up.

Austin enters a bit short on outer zone 1 and continues that trend into the touch n’ go. Outer zone 2 is filled with Cadillac with a closely shadowing S15. Piotr is not afraid to push it and Austin cannot shake the candyman.

Piotr gets the win.

Alex Heilbrunn Vs Travis Reeder

Alex goes deep, even demolishing his rear bumper on the touch n’ go but stays unfazed and keeps a killer run going. We know he loves this course, he has branded the Long Beach walls before going on to podium. However, Reeder sans his newly released electric car and in his pro 2 car, sticks to the swinging BMW and keeps the pressure on, all the way to the end. Its mind boggling his pace despite being down at least 400hp to the bigger guns in pro class.

Reeder leads and what a lead it is, tapping walls, filling the zones and ticking all the boxes the judges want to see. However Alex is aggressive, continuously showing his nose to the side of Travis’ car, until the last turn where that aggression gets the better of him. He switches lines to dive down the inside, not giving himself enough space to slow and spins out, narrowly avoiding contact.

Reeder is gifted the win.

Forrest Wang Vs Taylor Hull

Forrest shedded his usual green for a new fuchsia livery this year, then proceeds to use the rear of his s15 as a paint brush, tagging all the outer zones in his lead run. Taylor in the big caddy has improved greatly and remains about a car length back for the entire run.

Taylor initiates and gets a pretty decent run going, not quite filling the zones but looking racy. However the fuchsia shadow of Wang lurks closely, getting even deeper in the zones, surging up side by side to the finish.