I was really excited going into Round 6 of Formula D at Texas Motor Speedway. I knew it was going to be my last round of the season, plus it’s a new track, and I had nothing to lose. I felt really confident to go out there and give it hell! Going into the event we had the car running the best it ever has, buttt between testing and hitting the road for TX, we also decided to make a seemingly minor change and learned a very important lesson as a result.
More after the jump
After a “track walk” it was time for practice. Everything was going surprisingly well, and we were feeling really confident.
Then on the last run of Thursday practice while I was following Aasbo, halfway down the straight, my car made a terrible sound and lost all power. I revved the engine a few times, it sounded like a Subaru, and I knew it was done. I was more confused than anything because I hadn’t had engine trouble in years. We downloaded the data from the ECU and found out the car was running ridiculously lean. That minor change we made before the event just blew up in our faces. The new fuel we started using ended up being way more oxygenated than we thought.
I knew it was going to be a long night. One of those nights that you know is gonna suck so bad that it makes you want to give up before you even try. But I knew, especially with my dad there, that there was no way we were gonna throw in the towel. He called up his buddy Ari Yallon, owner of Rotary Performance in Garland, TX and asked if he could help us out. He gave us free reign of his shop and sold us some parts to get the car back up and running!
After a long night, a really sketchy rebuild, some JB Weld and a quarter, the car was running again! We loaded it back in the trailer around dawn, and made the sleepy hour-long drive back to the hotel. I was so tired that while navigating I kept dozing off and dropping my phone. I have no idea how my dad made the drive!
We were back out on track Friday for practice and the car seemed to be running decent. My dad had adjusted the tune to compensate for the fuel, adding an overall trim of 10%, but it still wasn’t enough. the injectors are maxed out… So we decided to crank up the fuel pressure. 5 psi, still not enough, 10psi still not enough. The car started feeling slower and slower… Running smooth and sounding good, but slow… It wouldn’t even hit rev limiter in 2nd gear, and my entry speeds were way down from Thursday. But time was up. We had to line up for qualifying.
My first qualifying run felt decent through the beginning of the run. I kept my momentum and speed up, compensating for the lack of power, but totally blew it in the last turn. After slowing down into the last outer zone I went to get back on the power, but because of the lack of horsepower, the car lunged straight instead of lighting up the tires. I almost went off course, but I kept it together and finished the run. I scored a 73. The second run was basically the same thing, but I didn’t biff the last turn as bad. I dropped it down to 2nd gear for the last turn and finished the run smooth. Absolutely no tire smoke and pathetic, but it was enough to get me a score in the high 70’s and squeak me into Top 32 in 30th place. It felt so amazing to qualify after staying up all night hashing on the car!
We got to the to the track Saturday morning and immediately switched the car back over to the old fuel and tune, and hit the track for practice. I made one run and the car was still slow! I told my dad that something HAS to be wrong, and sure enough we found a boost leak. My intercooler was cracked in 3 different places. Meanwhile Top 32 competition was about to start! We hauled ass back to the pits, my dad and Chris Ward ripped the intercooler out of the car, we ran over to the Falken Tire rig, and my dad welded everything together.
We got back on grid just in time for our Top 32 run against Chris Forsberg. He was leading the first run, and I had no idea what to expect with my car, so I didn’t want to give him an inch. On the run-up, the car felt really good, and I was riding Chris’ bumper all the way to the turn! I initiated right behind him, started sucking up to his door, I was hard on the brakes, but I came in a little too hot and hit Chris’ left rear wheel with my right front. I tried to drive through it, as I watched pieces of wheel fly up over my hood, but the hit was just a little too hard and it caused my car to over-rotate and spin.
On my lead run I just wanted to do a solid clean run, but I was a little worried because I still didn’t know what to expect from car. The last thing I wanted to do was fly off the track like an idiot, but luckily I was able to lay down a really solid run!
Lesson learned, do not change anything without testing it first! This is my spotter Brent Kunz and I reflecting on the days’ events. This picture pretty much sums up our emotions over the course of the weekend. It has been a crazy season full of broken parts, but it has also been an amazing experience. We learned a lot this season, and are already preparing for MAJOR changes for next season. Its been amazing and I love all my sponsors and dedicated fans! Next season we will be coming out strong ! See you guys next season!
HUGE THANK YOU to my dad Mike Lowe, Brent Kunz, Scott Neener, and Ari Yallon for all the help keeping the car on the track! Also, Enjuku Racing, SMASHED Clothing, Lowe’s Automotive Service, Turbo By Garrett, BC Racing Suspension, Falken Tire, and OMGdrift.com! Go buy stuff from all of these places and name drop me! 🙂