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Our story begins in a strange situation I had never imagined. Our team was going to Formula D Atlanta. Out of all the rounds in FD that I had not driven Atlanta was the track I was most excited for, as I heard the fans were great and that the track was epic. Both things I would come to find as 100% truths.
For this round we wouldn’t have the full support like we had for long beach. The car was being transported by another competitor so we didn’t have all our tools or really any control over the car until it was in our possession. We also had a smaller team that consisting of my Father aka Papa Primo, Ray from Garage Autohero, and my GF Lindsey. Ray and my dad would handle the mechanical and maintenance on the car while Lindsey would be my spotter and driver manager. Although it wasn’t the most ideal situation I was incredibly comfortable with the team and was ready to drive.
We flew out Wednesday with a scheduled arrival of Thursday around 1 am in Atlanta. From there we would have a 1 hour drive to the hotel and hopefully some sleep before we head to Road Atlanta the next morning. I had been speaking with the other driver who was transporting my car and had been told he would likely roll into the track with my car right around the start of Thursday paid practice. I was ok with that timing as the car was ready to go for the most part.

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Thursday

Unfortunately in the morning before practice I got the news that the other driver transporting my car had issues with his car. Therefore he would not be making the paid practice on Thursday and as such my car wouldn’t make it either. It was a serious blow to the entire team. Let it be clear I don’t hold anything against the other driver as he is a great person and tried everything he could to make ATL on
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It’s just an unfortunate side of this sport we are all so dedicated to. It was a no win situation all around.

While it was unfortunate there were positives that came from this dire situation. Road Atlanta is a huge facility and as such it was recommended by other competitors to rent a golf kart for the track. So while we didn’t have a race car. We did have a race kart. Our team rode the kart up to the judge’s tower and proceeded to start watching the 4 hours of paid practice. Lindsey and My dad stayed by the judges tower while Ray and myself moved around all over the track watching from different locations. While it would be ideal to drive the course and learn by doing, I know it was successful for me to study the drivers like JR, Forrest, Tuerck, Essa, and others who would slay the course. The best part of Thursday was something personal to me as I got to hang out with Ray for a number of hours when we didn’t need to rush to fix something or work endlessly on a car. We just sat there, talked, and enjoyed each other’s company while we watched the other drive. I should also mention that Ray is expecting his first child in the next month and he and his awesome wife were kind enough to allow him time away to support me. This was pretty cool and I truly enjoyed the time. Once practice was over our team left the track and got some food and rest while we focused on the next day.

Friday

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Our team woke up early enough to go get the complimentary breakfast at our motel. It’s a staple to make the free breakfasts when you are on a race budget. I spent the other part of the morning answering emails while I kept checking my phone looking for an update on the car. Practice and qualifying were going to start at 4:30 pm. After breakfast, work emails, and some coffee our team headed to the track where we would spend some time waiting.
Finally at 1:00 pm the car showed up! Our team snapped into action and unloaded the car ASAP. I had to get to a drivers meeting and sign autographs all while Ray and my Dad would be prepping the car.
Again it was uneasy for me to do this but I don’t trust anyone more than those two guys with the car. I was now focusing in on what I needed to do and trying to come up with a plan for me to succeed. After the autograph session was over I got back to the car. While everything we hoped to do was not done it was as good as it would get for now. It was finally time to hit the track.

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I drove up the big hill of Road Atlanta and immediately got in line. I wasn’t going to waste any time getting to it. It was time to jam. I got to the start line and thought about all the things I saw from the day before. I came bombing down the hill and entered late and went off track into the “kitty litter” aka lots of rocks. I was full of frustration and anger. It was not the idea of me going off that made me angry, but more of how rushed I had to be and how much pressure I was feeling in the moment. I had a very short time to get a course down before qualifying where I would need to outdo the best drivers in the world for one of 32 spots.

But I wouldn’t be held back and my team was there to support me. Right back in line I went. This time I entered earlier as I am now finally realizing how fast this car is with the new Garrett GTX4088R and very sticky Achilles 123s tires. I drifted the entire course and for the first time seeing the whole track did pretty well. I proceeded to hot lap the course a few more times before a very quick tire change. I got a few more runs after that where I continued to progress on the unfamiliar course. I was off a few of the clips but for the limited time on the course I was feeling confident. I even managed to get my entry speeds up to 104 mph which is pretty quick. There were faster drivers but not many. It goes to show that our S14 has a lot of potential. I just need to further develop the car and myself as a driver.

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While it was dry thus far through the event, that was going to stop at this point as the skies opened up and started to pour once the top seeded drivers headed out for practice. The track changed significantly. It was really an unfortunate situation for all drivers as the monsoon began. But as qualifying started we were alerted by Formula D that all drivers would get a practice run just before their qualifying run to get a feel for the newly modified track.
On my first practice run I went down and essentially threw the car just like I did in the dry. This ended up in me pulling a 360 on entry and looked more like something from a movie than a drift competition. I went back up to the top of the hill for my first qualifying run. I came down the hill and initiated, this time allowing the car to float out vs throwing it. I was set up well and navigated my way through the very wet and slippery course. As I ended the run I knew it wasn’t the cleanest however I was on or near a majority of the clips and thought I would at least put something on the board considering the tough conditions. My spotter came over the radio saying “Good run!” As I got to the top of the hill I was then made aware that I got a zero on the run because I apparently straightened out at some point. I have been wanting to see the run but the footage hasn’t been uploaded at this point. So I really can’t say whether I agree or disagree.

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Leading up to my second run I was a bit concerned as the track was wet but in the process of drying. This is probably the toughest circumstances to drive in as it’s hard to predict what the surface will do as you navigate the course. However like the previous run Formula D chose to allow every driver to make a practice run on the course before they made their second qualifying run.
On my second run I made a run down the hill and entered drift. Again my entry was on point and as I started climbing the hill into the keyhole I was good. However I made the crucial mistake of getting off the gas too early as I thought the top of the hill would be a bit more slippery and wouldn’t have as much grip. This caused me to dive in early and zero out my second run.
I had no one to blame but myself. Formula D did a great job managing the rainy conditions and allowing each driver to make practice runs. It simply came down to me not doing what I needed to do. As I drove to my pit area behind the start line I was silent and didn’t say a word, and when I got to my area I sat in the car just reflecting on what happened. To say I was disappointed would be the understatement of the century. But I know for a fact that there were a good number of other drivers just like myself in the same area feeling the same level of disappointment. So I picked myself up out of the car and gave each of my team members a hug and a thank you for the hard work. Our team then packed up our area and returned to the pits. Where shortly thereafter we would head back to the hotel for a rest.

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Saturday

The next day the team spent time talking with all the Atlanta fans and preparing the car for Miami. Wash and cleaning, fluid change, spark plugs, tire prep, installing of the new awesome Carbon ARP mirrors, refreshing the taillights and finally loading the car on the trailer. Doing this while talking to all the fans made for a very busy day and our team didn’t get a chance to actually watch the competition until mid-way into the Top 16.
I’m really glad we finally got to make it up to the course as it was an awesome Top 16. The highlight battle for me was JTP vs. JR both in Ford Mustangs. Watching those two drivers go at it made me realize how far behind I was in this level of FD and the only way to get better would be more practice.

Don’t get me wrong I believe in my skills, but looking at the top level drivers and teams you really see how far ahead they are in the series. Therefore at that point our team decided to make somewhat of a shift in our season plan. Due to a lack of team members for round 4 in Jersey we are going to forgo that round and instead spend money on season fees for the Formula D pro 2 series. Therefore for the remainder of the year we will be running Formula D Pro and Pro 2 events at Rounds: 3, 5, 6, and 7. Excited for some fun opportunities to come. Thank you all for the awesome support and I hope to do you proud!

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Formula D Logo

2014FormulaDrift

Round1

PRIMO RACING

Last year was so much fun, why not do it again? I got to drive some amazing tracks, met some awesome people and even got on Top Gear UK’s website when I took part in the last episode of Tuerck’d. Going into this Formula Drift season I was really looking to keep things consistent and not try to drastically change the car. The plan was to perfect what we had instead of changing for sake of change. The focus was to make the car lighter and get some more power while still overall trying to keep our program similar.  With the idea of keeping things the same I thought we’d be able to get a lot of practice in.

However it always seems to come down to the final days before we finish. Yes, we had not as much on our plate and yes, we should have been ready months ago but it just didn’t happen. But we had a realistic plan along with great partners and we made it happen.

Changes for 2014

  • During the Tuerck’d Oregon Trail video we ended up breaking our Gforce GSR transmission.  PSI was great and managed the process for getting the transmission fixed.
  • Turbo By Garrett was awesome to us this year by getting us the new Garrett GTX4088R turbo.
  • Ray from Garage Autohero worked his fabrication magic and re-did the entire rear end of my car and added in a fuel cell.
  • My father took on the task of removing all the factory windows and replacing them with lighter/stronger lexan.
  • These changes reduced the weight of the car by 130lbs and the Turbo change netted us an additional 65 horsepower.
  • Of course Factory 83 also worked his magic and re-did the vinyl on the car.

The all up final product was the coolest and most race ready car I have ever owned and the entire team was ready for action!

As far as the FD season, I spoke to one of my great partners, Achilles and was offered the opportunity to join their program on the big rigs.  But after some long deliberation I chose against it due to a multitude of reasons.  Therefore we planned to just run the same 4 events.  Round 1, 5 ,6 and 7

Testing

We officially finished the car the Sunday before Long Beach. Cutting it far too close however we were 2 days a head of last year so that says something “cough” Bad planning “cough”.  Taking advantage of an open drift day at Evergreen Speedway we chose to bring the car back from PSI into Washington where we would test, then my team would load up and head down mid-week for Long Beach.

It was a long winter that’s for sure.  I missed driving so much, but I’m honest when I say I was pushing the car and doing things I never had done to that point in my drifting career.  Still far from where I want to be but very happy thus far and great for a shakedown day.  I gave a number of ride-alongs that day on the FD course and even took part in a Landslide fundraiser to raise some funds for the people who tragically lost loved ones in the Oso Landslide.  Was a great day overall.

Here are a few of my runs using Track Attack for Drifting. Track Attack is one of my new partners for 2014 and excited to share video with data with you all and leverage to help me become a better driver.

 Note: Watch from a PC or Mac – not a phone.

Practice Run 1 using iPhone 4 and a GoPro Hero 3 – Click Here to Watch 

Rob Primo Track Attack Evergreen Drift Shakedown 1

Practice Run 2 using iPhone 4 and a GoPro Hero 3 – Click Here to Watch 

Rob Primo Track Attack Evergreen Drift Shakedown 2

Practice Run 2 using iPhone 4 only with standard definition video – Click Here to Watch 

Rob Primo Track Attack Evergreen Drift Shakedown 3 iPhone Only

Long Beach

Going into Long Beach I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t having anxiety like I was when thinking about drifting the hills with Tuerck in Oregon Trail.  However I was a bit nervous.  Last year I came to Long Beach just hoping to leave with my car in one piece.  Certainly not the mindset you want going into a place like Long Beach. This year I knew my skills were much better however I still wasn’t overly confident as this place is a challenging course.

Check out our new team shirts!

Check out our new team shirts!

I spent Thursday going through Tech and assisting my team in getting the car ready for Friday.  There was one thing I didn’t do this year and in fact I didn’t do last year.  WALKTHE TRACK!  This will surface its head later but once we had the car prepped we all went back to the hotel and got some much needed sleep.

Friday came and we were ready as ever.  Final preparations were being made by the team as I was in the drivers meeting.  I’m going to take this time and discuss one more big change to the 2014 team.  We actually have a team.  Ray Stonehocker, the man behind Garage Autohero is on board as much as his busy future father filled schedule will allow.  He brings a ton of knowledge and ability to the team.

Additionally he really helps me calm down and focus in.  Brian Kirk, who is one of the skilled hands from PSI is joining us to aid in prepping the car and making sure we are ready to go.  My father is still loving this hobby and has even stepped up further by taking on the responsibility along with Brian, of driving the car to the west coast events.  We also have my girlfriend, Lindsey, who is managing and will act as a spotter for a number of rounds when my spotter from last year, Lucas Perez, can’t make it.

Time to Drive (or Crash)

Remember when I mentioned the track walk and how I forgot to do that?  Well first run out of the gate.  I jam down the straight really calm and collected (not focused at all) and decide I’m going to look for tire marks to use as an approximation for initiating my drift.  This caused me to completely overshoot the initiation point and go into the tire wall square on my driver’s side.  There I sat, brand new awesome car with all the good stuff and I put it in the wall on run 1 in turn 1.  I thought about waiting for the Aid car or tow truck but when I turned the wheel, the car seemed to move ok.  I saw the tow truck turn the corner but I moved the car forward and proceeded to call off the tow truck as I drove the car into the pits.

In the tires but no real damage.

In the tires but no real damage.

From inside the cockpit – Click Here to Watch

What happens when you carry too much speed.

What happens when you carry too much speed.

 

My Team did a quick check of the car.  I didn’t get out of the car as the door was caved in and I had concerns we would not be able to shut the door again.  So after quickly removing the bumpers which were hanging off I was told to go right back to the front.

The cool thing was that I wasn’t shaken at all.  I knew I had the ability to drive this track and that I made a miscalculation and didn’t realize how fast the car was in its new form.  I warmed up the tires and proceeded to lay down run after run.  Each getting better and better.  I hot lapped the course as much as possible until my run group was done.

Once back in the pits my team proceeded to rebuild my car before qualifying.  Hammers, zip-ties, cut off wheels, and tape were put to use and soon enough the car looked almost as good as it did before the hit.  All that remained were a few dents and some scuffs. I actually liked the look. The car had some character.

 

Getting better and better.

Getting better and better.

Qualifying

Leading into qualifying I wasn’t nervous or thinking what could be? I was excited and ready.  I lined up and launched the car.  In the latter half of my run I actually thought “This is a good run!”  But I spoke too soon and lost focus.  On the final hairpin I pushed the final clipping cone and there went my good score.

I was disappointed but didn’t feel the pressure.  I was ready for my second run.

 More solid practice runs – Click Here to Watch

Rob Primo LB Qualifying Runs 1 via Track Attack GoPro

I would need to wait awhile before I gota second run at the track.  Leading up to my second run I started to think about Texas last year where I qualified for Top 32 and got to run the awesome Texas track over and over.  I kept thinking about how awesome that was and how much I want to keep driving the Long Beach track.  I didn’t want Top32 for glory or Facebook likes.   I wanted top 32 simply to keep driving and having fun.

So leading up to my run I had a mindset that I never had before. I was willing to wreck my car if that’s what it took to qualify for this event.  The car I had owned since 2002.  The car I truly cared about.  I’d write it off if need be. I was finally ready for Formula Drift.

I launched into my second run however it was over before I knew it.  I got too much angle to start my run and I was moved off-line.  I kept on the gas as hard as I could and was able to pull out the run and even bettered my first run with a very whacky line.  However it wasn’t good enough.  Honestly, my first run was much better and if I didn’t hit the cone in my first run I would have likely qualified.

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But of course I would let it go right!?  Just accept defeat and move on for the weekend?  Yeah, that’s not happening.  I watched the videos of my runs over and over.  Nitpicking mistakes and being hypercritical.  I could accept defeat for Long Beach but I HATED the idea of waiting until Formula D round 5 in Seattle as I wasn’t planning on running the east coast events.

So I talked with my team and ran a few ideas by everyone.  We wanted to go east. I reached out to a driver I really respect and have known for a while. He just so happened to have a spot available.  So my trailer ended up coming back to the NW empty as my S14 headed east.  This is my whacky way of saying we are running 6 or possibly all 7 rounds. We may by pass Jersey, as most of the team won’t be there and the track honestly doesn’t look fun.  But that is a call we will make in a few months.

Right now myself, Ray from Garage Autohero, and my father are working together to get my S13 practice car running.  Some brand new Rays Gram Lights wheels are on the way along with some sticky Achilles 123s tires. I’m excited to get to drive my SR20engine again and hope to get some great practice before Formula D Atlanta.

More awesome stuff to come!

Rob

Instagram – Robprimo

Facebook – RobPrimo21

Twitter – RobPrimo

 

 

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In 2014 we have some big things planned for Track Attack in our products but also in our partnerships.  This year we are partnering with up and coming Formula Drift driver Rob Primo, out of Seattle, WA.  Rob has been a paving the road for drifters out of the Pacific Northwest in the US to work their way into the professional ranks.

Rob Primo at Formula Drift Long Beach 2013

Rob Primo at Formula Drift Long Beach 2013

Our goal is to help Rob be the best driver he can be and improve throughout the year with the capabilities that Track Attack brings to drivers.  We’ll be with Rob throughout the year at the west coast Formula Drift events and all of his local events with NASA Northwest and Evergreen Drift.  We’re also excited to bring you all the in-car action from his practice and competition rounds using Track Attack.  As we get closer to Round 1 at Formula Drift Long Beach, we sat down with Rob to chat as he worked around the clock to get his car ready.

Track Attack: Thinking about driver development, what have you worked on during the off-season?

Rob: Since 2013 I have started to do a lot more visualization.  Thinking back to the tracks I ran on the FD circuit and being critical of my driving.  You have to be your biggest critic if you want to succeed.  I also watch as many videos of other drivers as I can get.  Watching drivers like Forsberg, Tuerck, Vaughn Gitten JR, Aasbo, Matt Field, Powers, and other get me super excited to get back out there.  FD has some amazing drivers!  I’m excited to share not just my highlight videos but also data and views of drifting at the Formula D level that are rarely seen so that other aspiring drivers can accelerate their development.

Track Attack: What’s new on the car for 2014?

Rob: We upgraded a few things.  Didn’t want to reinvent the wheel as the car was pretty fast and consistent last year.  But Turbo By Garrett has been amazing to our team and they provided us one of their new GTX4088R Turbos.  This should hopefully get us into the 800 whp range and keep us fast.  Pretty amazing we’re at this level with a non stroked 2JZ while still making tons of low end power.  Garrett Turbos are amazing!

Rob Primo Drift Garrett GTX40R

Also we looked to lighten the car.  Lexan windows all around.  A new fuel cell setup along with a tubed rear end.

Rob Primo Drift Lexan Windows

Initially after last season we looked to just keep the car the same but in consulting with Ray from Garage Autohero we felt lightening the car would only be a good thing as my car was already way over the weight class I needed to be in for my desired tire size thus the tube frame rear was decided.   Also putting all the weight in the very back of the car will provide some much needed traction.  The lexan will also save some weight up high on the car.

Rob Primo Fuel Cell

We also upgraded our program.  We have a full team.  Ray from Garage Autohero and Brian Kirk from Portland Speed Industries (PSI) will be joining us throughout the season to be great company and provide awesome help.  Joes Racing Products is on board we now have some key tools we didn’t have before.  Keeping us ready and the car running proper.  You all (Track Attack) have joined our program and I’m really looking forward to shooting all kinds of in car video with actual data!  Having more than awesome music videos (which are great BTW) will allow me to really critique my driving and improve.  It is starting to feel like a team this season!

Track Attack: What does the schedule look like in 2014?

Rob: Really excited about the year because we’re going to be on a race track all the time.  Those tires will have to run for cover!  I plan to run Formula D round 1 in long beach, Formula D round 5 in Seattle, Formula D round 6 in Texas, and Formula D round 7 at Irwindale.  In between those events I will be running some NASA Northwest events on NW road tracks.  I also may end up on Maryhill Loops a time or two like I did last year with Tuerck. But only time will tell.

So what does riding shotgun with Rob Primo in his Formula Drift tire shredding machine feel like?  Here’s some footage from our initial drift testing with Track Attack at Oregon Raceway Park last summer.

Rob Primo Drift ORP Cameron Moore Drift

We’re looking forward to get down to Long Beach for Formula Drift Round 1 and bringing the in-car experience back to everyone.  Remember that you can drift with Track Attack at anytime, get it now on Google Play, Apple App Store for iOS and Windows Phone Store.

Make sure to keep up with Rob throughout the season on the Track Attack Blog and through social media:

#tallestguyindrifting

 

 

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