36 drivers will slide into Long Beach for pre-Grand Prix Formula DRIFT event – Daily News

on Apr5
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With one week to go before the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach roars Downtown, 36 drivers will dramatically slide into Turns 9 through 11 in the return of the entertaining motorsports hybrid known as drift racing.

“This is the only event of its kind anywhere in the world,” said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT Holdings. “There’s a lot of drifting happening now all over the world, but we’re actually the only ones drifting on city streets.”

Drift racing, born on hill-toked tracks in Japan and popularized in the “Fast and the Furious” movie series, is all about sliding. Skilled drivers lose and recapture tire traction, forcing their vehicles through turns with crowd-pleasing, dramatic sideways slides.

The first Formula DRIFT Race in Long Beach took place during 2005 Grand Prix weekend. Soon thereafter, Liaw and his team spun off their success into a standalone event the weekend before the big race — and it’s been a hit ever since.

This year, there will be two head-spinning days of drift action Friday and Saturday — and then drift drifters will return as part of Grand Prix weekend for the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge Competition, under the lights on Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13.

“They (Grand Prix of Long Beach officials) were really receptive and supportive of our series from the beginning,” he said. “It’s (Formula DRIFT) been a pseudo kick-off to Grand Prix week, then leads into Roar in the Shore and Thunder Thursday.” Roar in the Shore is Wednesday, April 10 on Second Street in Belmont Shore — and Thunder Thursday is April 11 at The Pike Outlets.

Drifting drivers’ dual goals this week: Spotlight their showy sideways skills — but elude street-scene disaster. “With other tracks, if you make a wrong move, you end up in the grass or dirt, but in Long Beach, a wrong move lands you into the wall,” Liaw said.

“That adds to the different atmosphere and intensity for everyone,” he added, “both for the drivers and spectators.”

On Friday, gates open to spectators at 11 a.m and the qualifying races for the pros start at 1:15 p.m. and goes until everyone has run.

Drivers stick around to sign autographs and visit with fans after the driving is done.

On Saturday, gates open at 9 a.m. for practice runs and other on-track activities. Competition starts at 11 a.m. with the first elimination round. The championship runs begin at 3 p.m. with the top 16 cars. The winner is expected to be crowned at 5:45 p.m.

For spectators who can’t make it to the track, the Formula Drift event will be live streaming on Facebook Watch. The Formula DRIFT Championship also will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

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