At the recent 2013 Formula Drift season opener out in Long Beach, California, I had the opportunity to attend qualifying in advance of the Formula D main event. All throughout the day I was treated to screeching tires and the pungent smell of burning rubber as the drivers and their cars -- including several amazing Ford Mustangs – drifted around the track in an attempt to make it to final round.
As the assembled media gathered in the morning at the bottom level of the parking garage, the event co-coordinator explained the rules for the day, stopping his speech every few minutes as the cars roared by, tires wailing. Vendors were busy setting up their booths and the models stayed bundled up, hoping for the sun to come out on the slightly overcast morning.
Ford had a sweet display set up, showcasing some of their most popular Fords, with a mix of slick Focus' and Mustangs. One that caught our eye was a black and apricot 2013 Ford Focus ST with bodywork done by Bojix Design. Bojix is well known in Southern California among Ford enthusiasts for its award-winning creations. The Focus was the pride and joy of Bojix’s co-founders and product designers Haro and George Derkrikorian. Sadly, George’s life was cut short last year at the hands of a drunk driver -- he and his amazing design work are sorely missed.
Around midday, Falken Tire Mustang ace driver Justin Pawlak hit the wall near turn 10. The flags went up as his wrecked Mustang was towed off the field. His team went to work immediately, swapping out the broken axle and repairing the front end.
I also had the pleasure of visiting with former Formula D champion Vaughn Gittin, Jr. in his pit. Gittin, who drifts in his RTR Mustang, is one of the nicest celebs I’ve ever met. He was cool to his mechanics, his social media manager, and the reporters interviewing him for the L.A. Times. After his interview Vaughn happily signed a Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords license plate for a future giveaway and then rode off on his BMX bike.
This was my first Formula Drift event, and it was nice to see that the Mustangs could more than hang with the other imports on the Formula D grid. The memories I made at the Formula Drift Long Beach event will last me a lifetime -- just like the little pieces of rubber I keep finding in my things.