We have decided to call this season “Out For Blood.” That will be the continuing theme as I strive for the first tier on the podium. The reasoning behind this is that Alpinestars sent me my badass new neon suit, and along with that, they sent me some red gloves. At first, I was a bit confused as to why they would be red because it didn’t match anything. But then I realized. They didn’t want to send me white gloves because I would get them stained with blood. Thus, “Out For Blood” was formed.
The long, exhausting road to Round 1 of the Formula Drift pro tour took us to the streets of Long Beach, California. Prior to this event, the crew and I were hard at work for literally three months straight. I am talking about not doing anything but working on my car. It took its toll. However, throughout all the hard work, late nights, and lack of sleep, we were able to roll into media day bright and early on Tuesday morning. We were able to do a few runs and get the car tested. We worked out a few small kinks, but overall the car was solid. I was learning the car and, more importantly, learning the huge power. The power increase that we were able to achieve with the new motor and the Vortech Supercharger is insane. I basically doubled my horsepower from last year, plus about 100. It’s incredible. As media day rolled on, I decided to follow Fredric Aasbo during a tandem run. He was driving solid all day, but this time just made a small mistake. Aasbo went into the tires right in front of me, forcing me to spin and try to get out of his way. We narrowly escaped with my Ms. Pac Man wing end plate flying off and a bit of tail light damage. Whew, that was close. A few more runs and we wrapped it up for the day.
Since qualifying wasn’t until Friday, we were able to actually set up our pit, make a few small changes on the car, run some errands, and most importantly, get a day or so to relax. This was the first day we got to relax in a long time. The downtime was enjoyable.
As Friday morning rolled around, we were confident in the car and ourselves. We rolled out for practice before qualifying and this is where things got a little strange. For some reason, after a few runs, the car became almost undriveable. It kept over-rotating on me and I just could not keep it together. I spun maybe three times in a row. Something was wrong. We finally figured out that the toe got moved too far out. We were trying to drift with about an inch of toe out. Haha, definitely not good. We eyeball fixed the toe and were able to do one more practice run. We agreed the car felt way better, so we took the car back to the pits and actually used some toe plates to measure and set the toe correctly. It was dialed in exactly where we wanted it.
Then, it was time for qualifying. We did our normal burnouts and doughnuts then lined up. My spotter, Dan Chow was telling me a few of the scores and I was surprised how low they were. When we were almost ready to go, my spotter and I decided we were going to go for it. We weren’t going to throw down a mediocre run; we weren’t going to do a run just to get a score. We were going for #1 qualifier and I knew we could do it. However, it just so happens that when we fixed the toe, we ended up making the car a rocket ship. I took off from the line then full throttle, 4th gear into the first corner. As I rolled on the gas, the car began gaining speed and more and more grip. When I had it lined up, I threw the car hard into Santa Claus wall. Unfortunately, we were about 4” too deep and it sent the car in the opposite direction. My wing went flying into 10,000 pieces, the taillights exploded, and the rear bumper went for a ride. And of course, the photogenic Ms. Pac Man went for the wildest ride of them all. I spun the car around and backed it into the tires. I was relieved we went rear first instead of front first on that hit. I called my spotter Dan and he said, “It’s good, drive it away.” I pulled the car back into the pits and the boys, Daniel Tredway and Ty Milner went to work.
With the help of my Dad and a few friends, they were able to get the car back together. We came out of that run with no suspension or radiator damage, just some fiberglass and some hurt feelings. Back in line we wait. I was 100% confident in the car. I thought about the first run and I figured out why I crashed. The car was too good. The toe change we made before qualifying was enough to make the car that fast, handle that good, and give me the ability to flick it that hard. Not a bad problem to have. So now that I knew how good the car was, I could dial it back, get a score, and qualify. With how the new qualifying system works, the best position we could get was 17th, since the top 16 people are locked in after the first round of qualifying. I knew we could get 17th without a doubt. So as I lined up for my second run, I was feeling good. I took off and was able to feel that same amount of grip I felt in the run before, but this time, I was able to control it. We laid down a solid run, 85.9. Not too shabby. We were good for 17th. The best of the rest.
Coming into Saturday we were feeling good. We had a few things to figure out in practice and we were ready to go. We were going against Matt Powers. He was doing okay in practice but I knew he would really turn it on for our runs. Plus his car is really fast. He was to lead first since he qualified 16th. Going into the first corner, through the power alley, and to the Santa Claus wall we were able to stick right with him. It was setup to be a good run for both of us until we went into the last corner. I wasn’t sure what it was, but something about how we transferred off the judge’s wall threw me off. I don’t know if it was because we were going that much slower behind him, or that we transferred at a different location, or that the transfer was slower than I was used to doing, but whatever it was, I screwed up. I went to throw the car to transfer into the last corner and when I did, the car just stopped rotating and gripped up. I still don’t know exactly why it happened. With the caliber of drivers in FD, a small mistake like that can cost you the round. So we lined back up and I was to lead. I knew I had to throw it stupid hard and try to make him screw up some way. Unfortunately, I threw it too hard myself and made a mistake. I spun out of his way and our weekend was over. I think this round went okay, but I am unhappy with my performance of course. The crew did an awesome job and the car worked well. It is now up to me to get comfortable in the car.
Thank you to Daniel Tredway, Daniel Chow, Ty Milner, Bruce Field, Susan Field, and Diane Firmalino.
I really want to thank everyone who made this season possible for me. Without each of your support, this wouldn’t be possible. CX Racing, Maxxis Tire, Rotiform Wheels, Blacktrax Preformance, Vortech Superchargers, Lucas Oil, Parts Shop Max, Alpinestars, Sokodu Designs, Daft Innovations, ACT, AEM Filters, Aermotive, Tuner Playground, Fatlace, AEM Electronics, VIS Racing, Improved Racing, Carbon Studios, Vex motorsports, Protex Sports, OMGDrift.