Toyotaku in southern California had plenty to keep them occupied this past weekend, with not one but two events showcasing the venerable AE86 and its successor, the Scion FR-S.
The 86 celebration kicked off with the Formula D season opener, a drifting extravaganza on the streets of Long Beach. The tenth season of America’s premier sanctioned drift series kicked off with a sold out crowd as drivers battled to be crowned car control king.
This year the organizers let in many more rookie drivers, resulting in a higher than average showing of AE86s. After a decade of sanctioned drifting, it’s still the weapon of choice for those who don’t have mega sponsor-backed budgets.
Despite being rookies, some had pretty impressive builds nonetheless, like this1UZ-powered hachiroku. With early Lexuses available for dirt cheap prices these days, the 1UZ has practically become the small block Chevy V8 of Japanese cars.
Taka Aono of Drift Day and Club4AG, however, has been the lone pro holdout representing the AE86 for what seems like an eternity now, even as the rest of the field adopted big horsepower rides over the years.
Or course, the logical choice for many pros was the new Scion FR-S. Ryan Tuerck‘s Retacks FR-S was this close to sporting vintage Toyota racing colors. If only his car was white.
Tony Angelo‘s Air Force sponsored machine sported awesome livery inspired by the P-51 Mustang. That’s right, an American WWII fighter plane on a Japanese car sponsored by the USAF — proof that hatchets can be buried!
The Scion’s lone twin was Toshiki Yoshioka‘s Tomei Subaru BRZ. It probably wears the most JDM livery out of all the drifters. It’s great to see the legendary Japanese tuning house have a presence at a drift event on US soil.
No Formula D event would be complete without the accompanying car show. Though there weren’t as many nostalgics present as in the final round of 2012, I still found a few notable examples to be shot.
This ultra-clean Datsun 510 sedan was the highlight of the show as far as JNCs were concerned.
A few years ago there’d be only one clear “classic” in this photo, but nowadays the 510 can hold its own beside a similarly silver 1967 Chevelle.
Speaking of muscle, the “Midnight Squad” E70 Corolla had a Chevy LS motor shoehorned into the engine bay.
Unfortunately this “modern-ed out” TE72 wagon concludes the Jtin presence at the show. However, it should be noted that the spectator parking lot was rife with old school Japanese cars. Seeing them outside a huge motorsports event hearkens back to the old days when kaido racers would flock to Fuji Speedway to watch the touring car races.
In the end it was Dai Yoshihara in his 1993 S13, the hachiroku’s nemesis, that took home the Round One championship, with Vaughn Gittin Jr. in his RTR Mustang in second and Chris Forsberg in his 370Z in third.
Although the results of Formula D concludes Part 01 of our coverage, that night was also the sixth anniversary of SoCal’s AE86 Nights meet. In Part 02, we’ll check out the grassroots gathering of RWD Toyota fans and see how the scene is evolving on the flip side.