Well good day to all dudes and dudetts, Nikolay Konstantinov checking in. So as the FD season keeps moving forward I was fortunate enough to come to Vegas to experience another fantastic weekend, and honestly feel like a super hero. Where do I start, Got to U.P. Garage at about 10pm loaded the car up with the crew and we set forth on this adventure. The drive was very long and boring driving 19 hours straight from Seattle, WA to the big Las Vegas NV. Traveling through Washington was kind of a breeze. Through Oregon though got into some awesome lightning storms I was tripping out. The worst part I think was going through northern and central Nevada, where we got bombarded by golf ball size rain drops, that was way crazy. Once we arrived it was cake, got to the hotel brought all our stuff like tool boxes and almost race fuel in a barrel to but we got frowned upon and had to leave it in the truck. The cab of the truck was filled with tires too, it was nuts.
The major change for me was the event schedule, definitely not used to drifting that late at night. It was quite a challenge for me, but once he adrenaline kicked in I was set. At this event Nexen tire came though for me and the team and hooked us up with some rubber, big thumbs up to NEXEN thank you so much. Cris Crisostomo, Randy Sisler, and Eric Hagen were my mates for the weekend and made sure that my car operated correctly the whole event. Cris Crisostomo is the fastest tire guy in the west, so bam! tire mounting and dismounting was covered. Randy Sisler was a beast this whole weekend making my car survive what ever I put it through. Eric Hagen did everything else at the grid changing out wheels and tire pressure and our awesome ROCKET BOOSTERS “jk”.
With practice starting at 9pm I didn’t know what to expect from the track. I just knew it was ruthless and unforgiving. Knowing my self I just attacked that barrier infested monstrosity as well as I could. It was quite nerve wrecking trying to get closer and closer to that second clip right on the wall but felt absolutely awesome. I think the entry was my favorite part trying to scrape the bumper on almost every entry. Attacking that corner and 70mph plus was nuts. I cant wait for Sonoma.
*Photo provided by Jose Martinez*
Friday morning got up all early and went to walk around on the strip, man that was the most exhausting adventure ever, that place is so friggin hot. Got some food, saw some sites, came back to the room and passed out till it was time to head back out to the track.
Friday night man was it exciting to be at the same point again, knowing that I myself going to driving with and against the best in the States. Such a good feeling to have accomplished so much so far. Autograph signing is pretty awesome getting people coming up to me and saying they knew of me, and being there and excited to watch me run. Going into practice again is always a little scary but once the first run is under the belt the rest didn’t seem to bad. After a nice 4-6 pm afternoon session in 100 degree weather with track temps at 140 degrees or so, we all went in to TOP 32 qualifying. I think the worst part of that was waiting for your run, getting butterflies in you stomach and stuff. On my first runs I usually go all out so that way I don’t have play catch up later and get even more nervous. It didn’t work out the way I wanted to and got a low score, which is still better then a 0 but its still low, that got me a bit like “ooh noooo”. So I just tried to relax after that run and collect myself. Then “BAM” second run was done and that put me in the 29th spot if I’m not mistaken and further on got bumped down to 31st. Now can you say wheeew, like a ton of bricks off my chest. After the top 32 announcement we got back into our cars for another short round of practice before we had to head back for our beds.
Saturday rolled around and I already got sick of the heat, couldn’t wait to get through the day. But I got to the track and it all got better. I didn’t waste any time, hopped into my race suit and was out there in no time. I tried to get as many runs as I could before the rest of the drivers got out on the track. So after 4 solid runs I felt good and said to myself a 2 more runs and we go chillax, but nooooo. While in the line up I was checking my E-Brake and clank! clank! bam! I had no clue what happened, so to the pits I went. My awesome mechanic Randy Sisler ripped my rear end of the car apart in like T minus 1 min, the guy is straight amazing. Cris Crisostomo seriously like 30 seconds, that kid is fast. Come to find out my brake shoes exploded kinda, the pads themselves delaminated off of the mounting pad and bye bye e-brake. Since I didn’t have another pair I was out of luck. Then to the rescue rolled up Ian Fornier with his box’o goodies and pulled out stock R32 break shoes so I thought we were saved. Randy put together the rear end and by that time the practice was over. I still needed to test the e-brake so I went in the back lot and gave the good’ ol e-brake a good tug, and it barely grabbed since the pads we used before was a race pad not a stock one.”UGGGGGH!” I knew the top 32 battle was going to be tough, and so it was.
My opponent was heavy hitter Mr. Kyle Mohan. Going into our battle he led and upon the initiation the absolute awesome thing happened… which was a big NOTHING! When I engaged the e-brake nothing happened. It barely grabbed and I ended up driving the course, so sad for me. On my leading run I wanted to put on a gangster line so maybe, just maybe he could fumble behind me but since I went in super hard and forgot about the only thing that I needed didn’t work. I could not make the corrections needed for the main corner I hit the wall on the last clipping zone. Kyle over took me on that corner and on top of it all when I got behind him he jammed on his brakes a bit hard and so did I mid transition and that snapped my steering rack so hard that my wheel snapped back and broke my knuckle on the passenger side “so sad for me”.
*Photo provided by Jay Canter*
So my weekend of drifting was done from that point on. Back to the pits we went big thanks to Kevin Wells and the gents at the NOS rig for hooking me up and welding up my knuckle so I could get my car on the trailer. Came the 2 hour break before the Top 16 awesomeness. Signed and met whole bunch of awesome people, to whom I say big thanks for the support and encouragement. So after all that we packed up loaded the rig and went to watch the top 16 set the track on fiiirreeeee. After all the sickness and the upsets that took place on the track and the podium. My crew and I hopped in the rig and rolled out on our 19 hour drive which I believe I drove for about 7 or 8 hours after leaving Vegas, man was I beat.
Over all fantastic weekend the best time ever spent in Vegas. Wanted to say thanks to U.P. Garage and especially Randy Sisler for doing all the awesome work that they did to keep the car and me going. Big ups to NEXEN tire for hooking me up with rubber. Also Mr. Gardella and everyone at the Mobil 1 rig for letting us take over their tire machine from time to time. Also last but not the least Eric Van Brunt they guy in charge of the Drift program for Discount tire Americas tire program for keeping us young kid hydrated and well taken care of. I think all the drivers including myself want to say thank you to ALL the fans of Formula D and to our personal fans who make all of this possible with out you guys all this will be impossible, again hats are off to all of you at home and at the track. Formula Drift staff you guys rock and are the best in the game, thank you for taking care of us.
Looking forward to the next two events, see all of you soon. Sonoma here we come!