April 17, 2014
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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