Ever since ThunderDrift started, there has been a big competition in December. The 2008 December Comp was Ryan Kado’s first drifting competition, and he won it. He also won the 2009 December Comp. The problem with 2010 was that ThunderDrift had been holding the same kinds of events all year long as the ProAm series, so having something like that in December wouldn’t be as fun anymore. To switch it up, Geoff Pitts decided to make it a team tandem battle! But hang on, with the big competition taking up the only possible time ThunderDrift could hold an event in December, where would Super-Am Round 3 go? Geoff said screw it, and threw it in on the same weekend! Never mind that the worst storm ever was allegedly on its way!
I stayed up til 4am on Friday night working on Luke Lonberger’s Corvette build video, so there was no way I was going to make it to Thunderhill in time for Super-Am practice! I dragged myself out of bed and made it to the track right as the actual competition was starting. It had obviously been raining earlier (possibly during the night) as everything was soaked, but it was just cloudy the rest of the day! I was stoked to see a whole bunch of new drivers there. Some I had seen at ThunderDrift before, but not in any kind of competition. Daniel Chong, who shared the lead with Noah Welch, was conspicuously absent. While he wouldn’t lose his seed, he would slip down the qualifying list considerably.
SuperAm usually runs alongside some other group on the big track, like NASA track days or someone’s private testing sessions or whatever. This time ThunderDrift had the whole place to itself, so whenever someone got eliminated from SuperAm he/she could pay $50 more and go do open lapping the rest of the day! What a deal!
Josh Kravitz and Doug English were wowing the judges and the crowd with their barrel touching skills, alternating between putting their rear bumpers within inches of the barrels, or punting the barrels across the North Skidpad while still maintaining drift. With a show like that going on, it was no surprise that these two drivers went all the way to the final round. Kravitz clinched it when he smacked a barrel up onto its bottom edge, where it slowly teetered on its balance point before tipping back down into position. The judges were convinced and Kravitz took home 100 series points, the only perfect 100 score for a run so far in Super-Am, and a seed for the finals.
Doug English got 2nd place and a seed for the finals, and Adam Swan came in third but was already seeded. 4th place finisher Ian Bowers grabbed the 3rd seed, and since 5th place Ho-Young Lee and 6th place Welch already had seeds, the 4th and final seed for the day went to 7th place Aaron Conklin.
After a fun night filled with Mexican food, bass guitars, Forza drifting, crowded Chico bars, and a couple hours drinking beers with Jared Thompson in a motel parking lot, sleep was more than welcome. Geoff dragged me out of bed at 7am to help him set up for the Team Tandem Battle! Rain had come in the night and re-soaked everything, so I’m glad I bought some new Timbs. I ruined my favorite Dunks last year walking around in the mud. At least Thunderhill mud is nowhere near as bad as Buttonwillow mud!We headed out to where the course would be, which started under the bridge on the back straight, then went through Turn 14, sharp LEFT at Turn 15 onto the access road (instead of turning right onto the front straight), and then left at Turn 7. After the course, the drivers would turn left again at Turn 8 onto the access road, and wait at Turn 14 til it was safe to go back to the grid.
Pretty soon the drivers showed up and I was disappointed to hear that more than half the teams had flaked. No one from out of state or Socal came to play, and even some local guys didn’t show up. Oh well, three teams would still be fun to watch. Around lunch time the clouds magically dispersed, revealing this strange glowing yellow ball in the sky. No one knew what it was, but then we got distracted when Joe Ayala and Justin Shreeve of MotorMavens fame showed up from Oregon to shoot the event! I kinda felt bad for them since so many of the drivers didn’t even show up, but I was sure they would at least be entertained. Soon after that I ran into Michael Cabuco from Fitted Life and the quartet of media was completed.
But then cars started breaking! Julian Jacobs had swapped in an SR20 while he waited to do his 1JZ swap, but the SR was plagued by gremlins. He installed a new CAS at the track and that got the car drivable, but then he bent a tie rod later in the day. Lex King broke his oil return line, sidelining him and his FC for the rest of the day.
Andy Gillespie sheared a brake line somehow, which put his SR Miata out of commission, and Virgil Brosseau lost a rear wheel and had to get towed in, and later in the day he lost a front wheel! It turns out he put the rear wheel back on by stealing lug nuts from his other wheels. What the heck Virg! You can’t do that!!
I never found out what happened to Jared Thompson or Al Pulido, since they broke while I was way out on track. By the time the actual competition started, there were only two teams left, and one of the teams only had two drivers! It was going to be Virgil Brosseau, Jason Bostrom, Al Pulido, and Tyler Xiong vs Ryan Kado and Tomasz Olech. Ryan and Tomasz were going to have a severe points disadvantage due to only being a 2-person team! Judges Fabian Fernandez, Matt Madrigali, and Kiavash Shariloo headed out to their positions and the competition began.
I think this was the fastest drift competition I’ve ever seen. Each team took three consecutive runs, and that was it. We all headed back to the paddock to hear the verdict. Team Brosseau-Bostrom-Pulido-Xiong lost to Kado and Olech by ONE POINT. The judges attributed this narrow upset to the fact that the two drivers actually touched cars as they drifted through Turn 15.
This is another one for the books. Kado wins three in a row, and Olech, for the first time ever, got something better than 2nd place. That’s probably what caused the eclipse that’s happening as I’m writing this.