After a 3 year hiatus, how did it feel to be back in the drivers seat of Formula Drift?
I was super pumped to be back in the car. I have always considered myself a driver more than a judge or anything else, and I was dying to get back into a car. I was pretty nervous because I hadn’t competed in FD in 3 years, and I wasn’t 100% comfortable with the car yet. We worked really hard to get ready for this first event, but there was so much to get together just to get to the track, setting up the team, getting a rig and equipment.
Through the power of the internet, we saw posts about different test runs with the Scion and things you wanted to change; was the car set up how you wanted by the time Long Beach came around?
When we first tested the car it was in black primer, but otherwise unchanged from how it was delivered from after the 2011 Formula D season. We made a host of changes to get the car to be more tuned to my driving style from spring rates, to differential setup, ride heights, alignment, etc. After the first test day we were really happy with the car, it had transformed the car into something I was much more comfortable with, and really showed how much work we had performed. We had a parts failure Sunday before FD, and when we got our spare shocks on, we realized they weren’t the same as what had come off the car. We went into competition still making changes and adjusting.
You looked solid all weekend, and congratulations on your qualifying runs. How did you feel the weekend went, and how was going up against your Drift Alliance partner Chris Forsberg?
Friday, we were playing it pretty conservative, just trying to get the car to where it would be comfortable to push hard enough to qualify. Since I had no points from last year, I had to practice with the lower points drivers, and all the rookies. I was able to get 3 (!) practice laps before qualifying, we made changes after each on, dialing in grip, and trying to push harder.
Qualifying lap 1: I had setup in my head to make sure I slowed early into turn 11, as it was super slick from the pavement change, and I hadn’t gotten through there clean yet. First half of my run was really good, ran all the way out to the first wall, ran deep towards the judges, nice and clean. Time to pull up, and slow the car down for the hairpin, I was a bit too conservative and ran into a bit of understeer around the clip. Wound up with a a 76.5! Not bad for wrecking the last turn, and it put us something like 2nd or 3rd so far in the group.
Ran a bit harder in the second run, and pushed the score up to 77.5. Went to the drivers meeting, and found out we were ranked 21, and had to run number 12. 12 turns out to be my long time best friend and total ripper Chris Forsberg.
Forsberg is about a good a driver as they come, and he was looking really strong in his new car, so we decided to start making big changes to try to hang with him on Saturday. We raised the car up for Saturday and during the morning practice it felt really good, and I was able to drive it harder than ever. We made slight adjustments through the practice session, and felt ready to take on CF. I was to chase first, and Forsberg gave us a really good start, the car felt strong, and when I hit second gear, THE CAR TURNED OFF! It turned back on about a second later, but we were now chasing a BIG gap out of the first turn. I was pretty frazzled after that run, and some really colorful language went out over the radio (sorry FCC!). I knew that we were in bad shape, so I really went for it on the lead run. I ran hard up to the first 3 outside clips, and I could hear Forsberg’s V8 growling in my ear, as I went into the hairpin with a bit too much on it, and wound up spinning the last turn. I knew we had lost it, so I did a bunch of donuts to blow off some steam (sorry judges!), and we got ready to meet the fans and head up to the Scion party.
Are you excited for Formula D Atlanta? Anything about the car you want to change before the round begins?
I am super excited for Atlanta, that has always been a strong track for me, it works with my driving style, and I’ve done well there in the past. For the car, we are going to get some more grip into it, go over the wiring to get it as reliable as the rest of the car has been. I think we will a very capable car soon, once we get it dialed, it is going to be a monster.
Any special shout outs before we wrap this up for Formula D Long Beach?
Scion Racing, Hankook Tires, Exedy Clutches, Alpinestars, Brian Crower, Elite JDM, Rays Wheels, Electric Visual, Sam’s Autoland, MY crew: Carluch, Linz, Bjones, Mark L.
See you all next round in Atlanta!