Midwest Dopeness >>> No-Star Bash 2013 (Presented by Drift Indy & ClubFR)
Last weekend saw the convergence of nearly 80 drifters from around the Midwest and beyond for the second-annual No-Star Bash, a joint venture between Drift Indy and ClubFR. Held at Gateway Motorsports Park just outside of St. Louis in Madison, Ill, the event served as the first shake down of 2013 for many drivers. More after the jump!
Skill levels ranged from those running in their first event to those who compete in Formula D.
“It was a lot bigger than we expected,” Simba Nyemba of ClubFR said. “We had about 80 drivers; we could have had more but we stuck with 80 so everyone could get a lot of good run time in and have a good weekend.”
Last year’s Midwest Drift Union third-place finisher Bill “Highlife” Cook returned this season with a new platform, ditching his old S13, “Blood,” with Fat Girl, a Lexus GS300. Though the car retains the 1JZ/R154 combo from his previous ride, Cook said the four door (previously) luxury sedan behaves like an entirely different animal.
“I want to say it’s like a water bed, but it’s not,” Cook said. “It’s actually very tight and stiff. It’s so big and so long, that the inputs I give the car, it responds right away, but it seems really slow. Even when I’m on lock, I can throw a bunch of angle at it, and it will hit that angle, but it’s so slow to get there and it will sit there forever, and when it goes back the other way, it just really slowly transitions. It’s like I’ve got a whole other car behind me that I’m not really used to.”
Cook said the reason he went with the GS300 was because he was tired of the S-chassis and wanted to stand out.
“I wanted to do something different,” Cook said. “I know it’s been done in Japan and in the U.S., but in the Midwest, nobody’s really done it. It’s much, much smoother.”
Cook said he blew up the GT3582R early Saturday, but one of the local guys was able to snag him a replacement, though it had a different rear housing which negatively impacted performance.
“I wasn’t even building boost until about 6,000 RPM in third gear, which sucked,” Cook said. “It was super laggy.”
Aside from the turbo issue which Cook said he’ll have fixed by MDU round one, he said suspension work was something else that needed attention. Cook also mentioned that he would work on the rear upper control arms to allow for zero camber, as the car was experiencing excessive tire wear.
Speaking of camber, Dustin Doherty said he had switched to a zero +/- .5 degree camber setup since the last time he drove. Coupled to a change from running his tires at 45 psi down to 32, he said this allowed him to be faster.
“I also picked up a wider pair of wheels to get a bigger footprint,” Doherty said. “I was running a lot faster than I was last year, and that’s something that’s changed as I’ve been working on catching up in tandem.”
At the final event I attended last year, I snapped a photo of Doherty’s car losing a tire and dragging it’s rear bumper along, and this event prove no less strenuous on the orange-ish gold S14′s body parts.
“I got about one foot of air this weekend, and my front lower dam disintegrated,” he said. “I was getting a popping, like a carrier bearing pop type deal, and I thought my catback was loose, so I decided this morning to take the catback off to make it really loud and put my bumper back on to make a good show, and I realized the whole lower half of my bumper was done.”
Part of his car had to be fixed before the event even started, as he and his team worked to rebuild a rear axle Saturday morning. With that fixed, Doherty said the weekend had been amazing.
“I was actually getting emotional after getting my car back together this afternoon,” Doherty said. “I was tearing up and couldn’t really compose myself. I had four bachelors with me, no tag-a-longs and no kids, so it was definitely by far the best setup ever.”
Axle problems weren’t exclusive to Doherty’s car, as Tyson Schmidt broke two axles over the course of the weekend. He explained what happened:
“We had an S14 subframe with S13 axles and it kept breaking them; the length was just wrong,” he said. “We fixed it with hardware store washers and kind of rigged it, but it works now. I wish we would have fixed that earlier so I could have got more driving but it was awesome.”
Since seeing him last, Schmidt has added NEO Motorsport coilovers and suspension arms, a new clutch, and the aforementioned subframe.
“The track was really good and really fast, and we had awesome tandem,” Schmidt said. “It was a butt load of fun.”
Schmidt will once again be competing in MDU this year, but said he wouldn’t be making any significant changes to the car before the first round.
“We’re just going to get new tires and we’ll be ready to go,” he said.
Joining Cook, Doherty and Schmidt on the MDU circuit this year is Geoff Stoneback, who came out to drive Saturday. Unfortunately, engine issues sidelined him for Sunday.
“It was my first time at No-Star Bash, so I was really pumped to chill with everyone again and drive the track,” Stoneback said. “This course was really awesome because it was fast and technical. After a few suspension changes we got the car dialed in and drove pretty much all day (Saturday).”
Besides MDU, Stoneback said he also plans to run U.S. Drift pro-am.
While many drivers are adding stuff to their cars, one in particular stands out for what he’s been taking away: almost everything.
Built by Mike O’Mara and Dan Sommer, this skeleton-of-a-car, affectionately dubbed “Coyote,” is about as bare-bones as it gets.
“It’s everything you need and nothing you don’t,” O’Mara said.
Those necessities include an S13 chassis with full cage, SR20DET, stock transmission and turbo with 10 lb of boost, HKS acutator, tubular exhaust manifold, GReddy Type-S blow-off valve, Q45 brakes up front and 17×9 wheels wrapped in 10” rubber. The car, sans driver and fluids, tips the bathroom scales (literally, that’s how they weighed it) at just a hair over 1,200 pounds.
“Dan and I were sitting around thinking, ‘how would a mechanic design a car,’” he said. “It had to be easy to work on, easy to maintain, super reliable and just so happens to be massively over powered. It was one of those things most people have conversations about, but we decided to just sit down and do it.”
The duo began coming in after work and scrounging together S-chassis parts, taking 30 days from beginning to completion.
“We had an event in 30 days and knew that’s when we wanted to have it running, and we squeezed it in until the last minute,” O’Mara said.
He added that everything that could be converted from power to manual was, including the brakes. The car retains power steering, however, albeit with a quicker ratio. It’s got super angle knuckles up front and a welded diff out back. The tank holds five gallons of gas, and the instrument “panel” lacks a water temp gauge for a reason.
“Our philosophy was if it’s that hot anyway you’re screwed, and all it does it make you nervous,” O’Mara said. “This is all about having fun, you don’t need to think about anything else and that’s all there is to it.”
While the Coyote has already gone under the knife, the above car is about to. Owned by Kate Bauer and driven by Andy Seehausen at this event, the red S14′s days are numbered.
“Kate picked up Kenji Yamanaka’s Mazora S14, the right-hand drive Silvia, so this one is going to be cut to pieces and we’re going to build her a new one,” he said. “She’s going to drive it a lot more; she’s looking forward to it and is really excited about it.”
Until that happens, Seehausen said the car is set up like a car in Japan would be.
“It’s got all PBM coilovers, suspension arms and what not, but it has a stock S14 SR20DET with GReddy front mount, full exhaust and that’s it,” he said. “It puts down about 250 horsepower and the alignment in the rear is set to zero camber, so you have to drive it really fast.”
Seehausen, who’s long had an affiliation with DriftSTL, praised the event.
“Compared to other events I’ve been to, I honestly think this is the best one I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been drifting for ten years,” he said. “It was great having Drift Indy and ClubFR come together and putting something out like that.”
Speaking of coming together, not only did the event bring drivers traditionally affiliated with Drift Indy, Midwest Drift Union, ClubFR and Risky Devil, but a handful of Traction Optional’s crew made the trek up from the Memphis area to be in attendance.
One of those driver’s was TO’s head of operations, Andrew Chang, who had never been to Gateway before.
“I love this f***ing track,” Chang said. “I love just how it’s set up. It’s a quick entry into the first turn, but you’re just balls-to-wall all the way throughout the whole thing, and if you don’t go fast, you won’t like it. I’ve been wanting to come here since 2007 and every time there was an event, I couldn’t make it; either the car was down or something else was happening that weekend. I’m so glad I came and want to come back again.”
Chang said he didn’t want to put bash bars on the car, and just wanted to make it through the weekend without crashing. He said he fixed some stuff with his boost controller as well, and his car ran awesome.
“I drove all day yesterday and at night, thought it over, what I needed to do to get better, and man, once you hit that perfect line, it goes SO much better,” he said.
On the subject of crash bars, fellow T/O drivers Scott Allinder and John Sutherland found themselves involved in a crash later in the day Saturday during a tandem run. Allinder’s car began to spin out before entering the long sweeper, and Sutherland’s car had nowhere to go but into the green S13′s right rear quarter panel, breaking a spindle, rotor and fender.
Much to their surprise, everything was good to go again the next day thanks to Nocturnal Motorworks and an anonymous parts donor.
“We showed up in the morning and some local guys had just left some parts sitting on the trailer for us,” Allinder said. “We had so much support from the locals, it was awesome.”
Saturday night after the event, the crew at Nocturnal Motorworks sold Allinder a new intercooler for his car, then they pulled the old one from his car and installed it to Sutherland’s – both cars were fixed in just about an hour and were out again the next day.
Allinder told Sommer:
“You guys were out here driving all day too, and I wouldn’t want to go straight to work after running, but that’s what makes it so awesome.”
Sommer, who was driving his water/methanol injected 1JZ-powered S13, said No-Star Bash equated to the best weekend he’s seen in the Midwest.
“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us.” Sommer said of the event. “It’s going to go down finally that the Midwest can look cool. We had a blast driving with our friends. We never get to tandem really, now we’ve got 12 car trains.”
Sommer’s friend Kyle Crangle, himself piloting an SR20DET-powered S14 with T28 turbo and nothing more but a clean tune, echoed that sentiment.
“That was the most fun I’ve had in a car, ever,” Crangle said. “Driving with your friends, it doesn’t get any better than that. With bash style, it takes a little getting used to, having a bunch of drivers with a bunch of cars you don’t know, but it causes you to push yourself further. You just get so stoked. When you get someone behind you you don’t know and you smash a run, it’s like, that’s perfect.”
On the subject of smashing things, the track claimed a few cars along the way, and had quite the appetite for RX-7s, both in FC…
…and FD flavors.
It didn’t spare S-chassis’ either.
While Hooman Rahimi’s 350Z looks like it fell victim to the track, this is exactly how it showed up.
It was a stark contrast to Keith Carlos’ 350Z, with its white paint and new sponsorship graphics.
There were many more familiar faces at the event as well, including Richard Fisher and his S14.
“I thought the event was awesome,” Fisher said, echoing the sentiment of nearly everyone else in attendance. “It was nice having two days after being so rusty on the first, but going through 20 tires gets tough.”
The destruction of those tires was heavily aided by the LS2 residing under the hood. He said the car will be getting a new aero kit in the coming weeks, but he has no real plans to enter the car in competition.
“I may show up to an MDU event or two but nothing serious,” Fisher said. “It will mainly be ClubFR events and street.”
Other Midwesterners included Oliver Vaughn in his purple SC…
A.J. Gillet in one of two practically identical Subaru BRZs…
…and Steven Ostojic, who had one of the several BMWs in attendance.
As stated earlier, there were more than just first timers, grassroots and pro-am level guys, Formula D drivers were there as well.
One was Nick Thomas, who only managed a couple runs before problems in the rear end, including but not limited to the diff ripping out of the subframe, causing him to not only not drive much over the weekend, but also preventing him from being at Long Beach.
Mike Skudlarek was the other, displaying some of the fastest, smokiest driving of anyone in attendance.
“It was definitely cool seeing everybody again,” Skudlarek said. “I haven’t been able to drive an MDU or Drift Indy event for a long time, so it was pretty awesome to get to see everybody again and get to drive with a bunch of people I haven’t drive with since like 2010.”
Skudlarek said he experienced a minor issue on Saturday, and it was once again Nocturnal Motorworks to the rescue.
As with many other drivers, MDU is on the schedule for Skudlarek.
“Next up is MDU round one,” he said. “I think we’ll just make sure everything is tight and good to go, and nothing really too major I don’t think.”
After the event wrapped up on Sunday, head of Drift Indy, Edgar Sarmiento, said there will definitely be another No-Star Bash in 2014. Though the location is TBA, he hinted Gateway could serve as the home again.
“We do love this facility and we really want to get everything closer together for the people,” he said. “I think next year is going to be bigger and better here at Gateway Motorsports Park. We might change up the months a little bit, as we took a gamble running this event early in April but it actually worked in our favor. This whole weekend was nothing but smiles and fun and smoke.”