April 11, 2009, Long Beach, CA – Today marked the first round of this year’s Formula D, currently the States’ largest and most popular drifting venue. As in previous years, Formula D kicks off as a precursor event to the Long Beach Grand Prix. Utilizing a small section of the Long Beach track, the first round always presents an exciting and unique setup for drifting- unlike actual raceways, the track is laid out in the middle of the city streets- certain sections (particularly the part used for Formula D) are quite narrow, and tends to result in exciting close calls and spectacular crashes.

This year a new elimination format, dubbed the Top 32, was used to create more intense and unpredictable competition, as well as more match ups for the fans. In addition, numerous new cars were used to compete with- among the most newsworthy was of course Rhys Millen’s new Hyundai Genesis coupe. Other highlights included a Saturn Sky, the new 2010 Ford Mustang, and a few rear wheel drive-converted Scion TC’s.

There was plenty of action off the track as well- a large turnout in the vendor village provided plenty of entertainment and eye candy during the breaks in drifting action. Spocom lended a hand with the visuals with their model booth, as well as Lisa Fleming’s Inspired Models, which featured numerous hotties, including Jeri Lee and Nicolette Lacson.

But back on topic; as usual the action did not disappoint. We witnessed quite a few crashes, (that while unpleasant for the driver and team, you have to admit they are always entertaining), screaming tires, clouds of smoke and chunks of debris in our eyes. All part of the experience that makes drifting so great to watch. The final round ended with Ryan Tuerck in his Pontiac Solstice against Samuel Hubinette in his Dodge Viper, with Ryan taking the unexpected win!

The next round will take place on May 9 at Road Atlanta in Georgia. As usual we will leave you with the full set of pictures of the action after the jump, which we were fortunate enough to get thanks to the Formula D staff.