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Throwback Thursday - D1 GP USA 2003

Inaugural exhibition at Irwindale by J series opened door for large-scale drifting events in America

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D1 GP USA 2003 Details:

  • First major drifting exhibition in States by Japanese series
  • Set at Irwindale Speedway, which went on to become known informally as the House of Drift
  • Drew a massive audience and allowed fans to get up close w/famed drivers
  • Facilitated by Slipstream Global Marketing, which went on to found Formula Drift

If there's one piece of advice I can give to budding photographers who shoot car shows, motorsports, or even local meets, it's to keep solid records. Having attended as many events as possible, especially in the early 2000s - like this D1 Grand Prix USA event in 2003 - it's been tough to figure out after the fact exactly what event I was at, when it took place, and where it was hosted. Granted, I did have a massive hard drive meltdown along the way and tried to save everything I could, but it still resulted in a loss of quite a bit of info.

This drift show was one for the history books, though. It was the inaugural D1 GP in America - the first to bring an all-Japanese drifting cast to put on an exhibition.

The event was massive, with a pit row area fully accessible to spectators. I remember it was shoulder to shoulder throughout the afternoon, as fans clamored for autographs and photos with the then rock stars of the drift world. It was surreal to be shaking hands with people that we'd watched for years in Option videos, and although there was a language barrier, the interaction was genuine and friendly. Beyond D1 GP USA's pit row access, fans could actually walk onto the outskirts of the track and greet the drivers with hi-fives as they were heading back to their respective pit boxes.

In the time after D1 GP USA 2003, Japanese and American drifting organizers continued to test the waters on US soil, like Slipstream Global Marketing, who helped bring D1 to Irwindale (and went on to start their own series - anyone ever hear of Formula Drift?) The event proved a motorsport movement was afoot and American fans couldn't get enough. With multiple organizations, plenty of US competitors and more than enough demand to meet the supply, the drift movement was just getting started and would continue to grow over the ensuing years.

Here are some of the photos I took during D1 GP USA 2003. I believe I'd ditched a Canon S200 and purchased a 4 megapixel Canon G3 that I thought was a technological marvel (lol). Dig in.

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