The Midwest Drift Union 2012 season drew to a close in dramatic fashion last Saturday night at Kil-Kare Speedway in Xenia, OH, crowning a new series champ and seeing four talented drivers earn their Formula D pro-am licenses. More after the jump!
Keith Carlos and his LS-powered 350Z came in to the competition as the number one qualifier, where he drew a by in the first round of top 16 due to Travis LaCombe being unable to make it back.
Despite being running alone, this didn’t stop the chants of “one more time!” from a notably sarcastic fan section.
Dustin Pizzino, who finished second on the season in points, was taken out in top 16 by Bill Cook.
“I blew my coupler on my intake on my run against Bill and from there everything just went downhill,” Pizzino said. The coupler was a minor issue compared to what else he had endured in mechanical issues earlier in the week.
“I came out and blew the motor on Monday night around midnight,” Pizzino said. “I got the car back together Thursday night. Friday morning, I finished up bleeding the brakes and the fine tuning stuff. Didn’t get any practice on Friday and got four runs before qualifying. It couldn’t have been any better for starting on Monday and ending today, I’m just happy to qualify.”
Pizzino has made huge strides in his driving ability since I first saw him last year, and the second place season finish proves that.
“I personally feel that I got a lot of learning to do,” Pizzino said. “Obviously it’s only my second year, but I’m loving the sport. I’m going to try and get out to California for the pro-am all-stars and see how we can contend with the rest of the nation. For the overall season, I’m happy.”
Pizzino said he’ll probably take the year off before trying to utilize his Formula D license.
“I got a lot of personal things I’m working on business wise and stuff so I’m probably going to take advantage of that year off and then try to get into Formula D the following year,” he said. “I may try to hit some of the east cost events. It’s a whole new world for me so I have to look into it and see what my options are.”
Cook finished third overall in points, securing his second Formula D license.
“Hopefully this time I can do something with it,” Cook said. “I’m pretty happy, it was a really good year. I only ran three events and did really well. I didn’t finish as well in this one, but the competition level was that much higher.”
“I love being here,” Cook said about Kil-Kare. “It’s a blast. I didn’t get knocked out the first round which is awesome.”
Cook said he ran the event with no car issues or any kind of damage, and only went through one pair of tires all day.
“The car ran perfect,” Cook said. “Once again, I’ve got to thank my pit crew, they did an awesome job.”
Cody “Tater” Grim brought home fourth place, being knocked out by Troy Manners in the loser’s bracket.
“I thought today was actually pretty fun,” Grim said. “It was a laid back event and I didn’t have any problems with the car…finally.”
Grim spun during his chase run against Manners, gifting the latter the win. But while that put an end to Grim’s MDU season, he said he’s not done this year.
“I’m going to try and do the 100 Drifters at the end of the year and see if I can find any smaller events,” he said. “I just want to do something – I don’t want the season to be over. I’m gonna do whatever I can just to get the car out and play with it.”
Next year, Grim said he is hoping to just use his motor again and get another shell, but he’s also tinkered with other ideas.
“I’m to the point where I’m thinking about doing a 2J in my 350Z and see how that does,” Grim said. “But we’ll wait and see how that goes.”
As indirectly stated earlier, 17-year old Troy Manners scored a third-place finish, making him have had a podium finish in each of the two MDU rounds in which he has competed.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Manners said. “Two Formula D pro-am events and two podiums. It was my first time driving this track and was one of the events this year I’ve been looking forward to.”
In a battle of the ages, Manners faced Cook in top eight, where it was a match between the youngest and oldest drivers in the field. Cook is 39.
“Squirt’s a great driver, a young kid – it was pretty cool to have the youngest driver versus the oldest driver out there,” Cook said. “I enjoyed that. I messed up on my entry and I got beat. It’s what happens.”
After defeating Cook, Manners was up against Mike Pollard. The two had previously faced off at round three in Painesville, Oh., where Manners finished second to Pollard in the finals.
“He got me again, but it was a lot closer this time,” Manners said.
Though Manners called Kil-Kare’s track setup “rad,” he said he had some initial worries after practice.
“In tandem practice I was kind of worried because I didn’t have a lot of grip,” he said. “I made some changes before top 16 and it definitely worked out for me and I had a lot more grip.”
Manners said there will be work done on his car over the winter to make it even more competitive next year.
“I want to thank my dad for helping me get to events and stuff and paying for fuel and other things, my buddy Jimmie Caldwell for all the work he did this winter and my sponsor Blasfome” he said. “Definitely will need a rebuild for next year but I should be a lot more competitive with a lot more power, fix the car up again, make it a little prettier, and probably do a full season of MDU next year.”
The final battle took place between Pollard and Geoff Stoneback, with a dramatic crash that saw Pollard unable to make a second run.
“What happened on the final run was the tire peeled right off the rim,” Pollard said. “I was stretching a 265 on a 12 inch wheel. Hadn’t had too many problems, but I guess time caught up with me. So I guess all that hellaflush fitment nonsense – they say I do not care, but I definitely care. So yeah guys, if you’re thinking about this, cool wheels are real cool, but watch your stretched tires. It could have been a lot worse but I’m glad I’m okay and the other guy’s okay.”
Pollard has been on the podium – two firsts, two seconds – at each round of MDU this year. This set him up to win the overall points championship, which he did by a long shot. Watch for the breakdown of the final season finishing order in another article later this week.
Despite the incident, Pollard remained in a positive mindset about the event.
“Overall today was a really good day,” he said. “Everybody that showed up was driving really good and hard. Some guys were doing best I’ve seen them do, which I’m super pumped about. There was a hard crash the day before, a guy I think broke his leg, and other crashes, so people were definitely pushing their limits.”
Pollard said he might change cars or at least power plants for next year.
“After this season wraps up, it will be pushing hard with MVP racing and all the companies that do support me: NEO motors, OS Giken, Tomei, Achilles, Zerolift, all those guys,” he said. “This car I’ve had since 2007. I’ve been t-boned six times and it has seen walls on every corner. This will probably be my missile. I’ll probably build something for myself to compete in secondary series’ again, like DMCC and XDC, but definitely have a different car to drive that’s not mine. Probably more horsepower and an inline six, maybe RB or 2J.”
With Geoff Stoneback’s car not mortally wounded from the crash, he was declared the winner after Pollard was unable to get his car back to the line.
“I didn’t want to win like that,” Stoneback said. “It sucks – he’s Mike Pollard, he’s awesome. I wanted to have him follow and see what happened. When I initiated with him, I was like ‘shit, I’m really high on the bank,’ and he was even higher. All of a sudden he washed out, and I was like, “fuck,” I think I’m just gonna shallow out. But I guess when he hit the wall it knocked him right into me. When I spun, it spun real fast and I was like “fuck, there’s the wall,” but it wasn’t that bad. I broke my steering wheel, but I went back to the line. Troy Manners gave me his steering wheel which was really cool. It sucked that he broke his car that he couldn’t just change his tire and get back out there.”
Stoneback said the banking on which drivers initiate was giving him problems during practice the night before.
“The bank was pretty crazy,” he said. “Last night I couldn’t see and it was just weird going into it and I beat myself up. Today, I just progressed better and better on the track and I got it down.”
To get to the top of the podium, Stoneback first had to take out “Rapper” Dan Savage, the other Sikky car.
“The best I think was going against Rapper Dan,” Stoneback said. “Me and him drive all the time together around the same area. We know each other’s driving styles. I thought I was going to lose.”
Stoneback then defeated Chris Conley.
…then Cody Grim.
“He was a good driver,” said Stoneback of Grim. “He was really fast and that was a good battle.”
“I have never driven this track, and it was my first time at Street Life Tour,” Stoneback said. “I’d seen videos and thought ‘this track looks awesome,’ and then when you get there, the way you initiate going towards the bank is scary as shit. It’s a fun course…fun and fast.”
Stoneback said after this event, he’s only got a couple more in the books this year.
“I’m heading to XDC Texas to see Nate Hamilton and the Texas dudes, then it’s NJ Motorsports Park with ClubLoose,” he said. “That’s a really nice fast track and I get to drive with all my boys, and that’s the end of the season…finally.”
Keep your eyes open in the next couple days to see a breakdown of how the Midwest Drift Union series finished and hear more from the drivers who earned their Formula D licenses.