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2008 Irwindale Speedway Formula D - Diaries

A Day In The Life Of A Drifter

Feb 1, 2009
Impp_0902_01_z+2008_irwindale_speedway_formula_d_diaries+rode_map Photo 1/37   |   2008 Irwindale Speedway Formula D - Diaries

Tyler MC Quarrie
If there was a "Good Sport" or "The King of Mechanical Problems" award, it would go to Tyler. Whether it's transmission or engine problems, or a shifter coming out in his hand, Tyler's had more issues than an episode of the Jerry Springer show. But despite all that, he's always managed to crack a joke about his crappy situation. Talk about class. So here's to you Mr. McQuarrie: May next year bring with it a better ride and better luck. You deserve it! That, and a big hug.

Formula D's Round 7 at the "House of Drift" is always one of my favorite events. The Irwindale course has become drifting's Daytona 500, and the last time I was here in the Porsche was for D1 last year, where we qualified Second and finished Fourth. I was hoping to do equally well this time around. But then came Friday's practice session. The Porsche's motor had a bad vibration and was misfiring hard. The JIC team spent the entire practice session tuning the car and it was still having problems. I was forced to qualify for the Top 32 with the car down on power and missing. My first complete lap of the weekend was my first Qualifying run, which put us in Second at the time, so we decided to pack up the car and head back to the JIC shop for repairs.

We got back to the track on Saturday, and noticed the misfiring was gone... but the vibration was still there and the power was very low and inconsistent. We spent the entire practice session working on the car; still no fix to the problem. Heading into our second round of Qualifying, I was doing a burnout when all of a sudden, "KABLAM!" Remember the vibration? Well, that was from a bent valve that ended up breaking, destroying the whole engine, leading to another event in which I didn't even have the opportunity to qualify. Honestly though, I think I was more relieved that the season was over than disappointed that we didn't qualify.

Mechanical failures plagued us from the start of the year, making this a crap season for all of us. But we still made history with the Porsche, by finishing Second at Englishtown, and silencing the skeptics. I loved driving the Porsche when it did run. It was so damn fast and did everything so well, but its reliability and the scarcity of replacement parts just killed us. I'll be moving on to a new car for '09, and you'll never guess what it's gonna be - I wish I could tell you but you'll just have to wait and see!

Tyler McQuarrie
www.tylermcquarrie.com

Hankook Tire
www.hankooktireusa.com

JIC
www.jic-magic.com

Ken Gushi
Like Tyler, Ken's had a rough year. His new-for-the-season drift tC's been having one issue after another-all the woes common to campaigning a brand new ride, exacerbated by converting a FWD Scion to a rear-wheel one. Running on hope and a never quit attitude, we hope the best for Ken.

Irwindale was probably the worst event for us this year. Not only did we have all year to get our tC dialed in and ready to kick ass, but since this is a local event for me, all my friends and family would be watching from the grandstands. To make things worse, I was told that Toyota execs would also be attending, watching me drive. So, before the event even started, I was feeling tremendous pressure.

But I was ready. I felt confident with myself. My only concern was that the tC wouldn't come together as planned. During a practice session Wednesday night, the axles broke and the team had to wait around for overnight parts to be delivered, so my plans to practice on Thursday were ruined. Still, I didn't let that get me down; Friday was ahead, and I expected to get in a full day of practice with no worries. But on the first practice session, I tried to drift the entire bank on the highest line possible without sacrificing speed, when I noticed the motor felt heavy and would hiccup here and there. After my second practice run, my team had come to the conclusion that one of our cylinders was toast.

We still didn't give up. I knew I had the most committed staff in the entire series. John, Koji-san, Ben, and everyone else on the RS-R Scion team stayed up all of Friday night, swapping out the engine. I went home to sleep. As much as I wanted to help, I knew it was in our best interest that I have a good night's rest. Saturday's practice session felt awesome. I felt confident once again. And just then, on my first Qualifying run, the engine began to misfire on the bank and I ended up scoring only an 84.4.

I knew that if I didn't improve on my second run, I would miss the margin to qualify. I began to panic. I knew there was a problem with the engine again. I just hoped that I would luck out and maybe be able to pull off a miracle run once again. But my luck ran out. The engine missed once again on the bank and I straightened out and scored an 81, finishing 18th place. It was disappointing, but this is motorsport. It's like surfing; you have highs and lows, and even a good wave doesn't last that long. This just ended up being a bad wave for us.

Scion Racing
www.scionracing.com

RS-R
www.rs-r.com

XM Radio
www.xmradio.com

Dai Yoshihara
Dai's been in a position all season that no one would envy: fighting your boss. Campaigning Rhys' old GTO, Dai's been in a battle for Third against Rhys. Think Anakin Skywalker wielding Obi-Wan's lightsaber in the final duel on volcanic Mustafar... only less geeky.

Heading into Formula D's Round 7 event, I was in Fourth Place for the series ranking. It was virtually impossible for me to catch First or Second, but still possible to catch Third, if only I could out-drive the person who was currently in Third Place: Rhys, my boss.

During Friday's practice session, I hit the wall... hard! I thought I was done for the weekend. But my mechanics TJ and Tim worked on the GTO throughout the night, and were able to restore it to good running order. They fixed the car perfectly and I was a little too fired up during Qualifying, and tapped the wall slightly, but was still able to finish in Fifth Place, without further damage.

I went against Takatori in the Top 16 round, and right before our match, Rhys got knocked out. I felt bad for him, but began thinking that was my chance to claim the Third Place points spot! I tried my best, but got too much angle transitioning back on the infield, and couldn't take an ideal line. I was on Takatori's ass the whole time I followed him, so I thought I won. Unfortunately, the judges didn't see it that way, and my season was over. I felt sorry that I couldn't reward my mechanics, who worked so hard the night before because of my stupid mistake, with a better finish.

Despite a regrettable way of ending our final event, this has been a good season for us. Rhys finished Third overall in the points chase, and I finished Fourth. Driving for Rhys Millen was definitely a great opportunity. I used to think he was a diva, but he actually works really hard and I learned a lot from him this year. Now he is like my big brother with round eyes! I'm really thankful to him and our talented crew: TJ, Tim, Max and Eric, and all our sponsors. And a Doumo Arigato for everybody who supported me and came out to the events. I had a great season!

Bridgestone Tire
www.bridgestonetire.com

Pacific Rim
www.ilovedrifting.com

Rhys Millen Motors
www.store.rmrproducts.com

Chris Forsberg
For most of the season, Chris and his 350Z have been in Fifth. With over 50 active drivers in the Formula D series, that's pretty damn respectable. He's in the top tenth percentile. For those not so good with math, that translates to an "A" season.

It feels like the first event just ended, but here I sit, writing my last entry... Irwindale was awesome, as always. Our "weekend' began on Wednesday, when K&N rented the track out for Vaughn, myself, and Drift Alliance drivers Tony, Justin, and Joon. It left us feeling very comfortable for the weekend, and Kevin and I got the chance to test out a new diffuser we'd added to the car, that we designed and APR built. We sat out Thursday's practice session, but worked hard on Friday, concentrating on entry speeds and tandem runs.

After a good night's sleep, I headed back into the track on Saturday, making sure I got there early enough to check on our car, the pit, and also my other friends competing that day. My only focus for Qualifying was getting a solid run. Anything to get me in Top 16 would maintain our Fifth Place position in the series. We qualified into the Top 10, and were onto competition against teammate Ryan Tuerck.

We were up for chase on the first run, which I was not too excited about. It is difficult to chase on the first pass. I wasn't afraid of any tricks from Ryan, so I knew to just stick as close as I could to him. The flag dropped and we tore down towards the bank. Around Turn One, I begin to close-in on Ryan's lead, to within about two feet, exiting the corner. Tuerck fliped back to the left, into the lower bank with insane speed, so I jumped on the gas to keep up. I was closing back in on him when I saw the side of his car coming fast; Ryan over-rotated and my front wheel hit his door and completely locked up. I was dead in the water - my car would not move. I radioed back to Kevin, telling him what had happened, so he and the crew could arrange tools and parts for a quick repair. But the front control arm bent so badly that the wheel was stuck in the wheel well. We called for five minutes to repair it, but there was nothing we could do; the wheel was so folded-over that we had to take the control arm off just to get the wheel off... and we hadn't fixed anything, yet. Time ran out.

We sat and watched our teammate take his victory lap and move into the Top 8. It was a very disappointing way to end the night, but we kept our Fifth Place position in the end, so we were very thankful for that. Thanks to all my sponsors, team and crew for battling through the season at my side, especially the entire Drift Alliance and the rest of my friends and family back home!

Nos Energy Drink
www.drinknos.com

Maxxis Tires
www.maxxis.com

Drift Alliance
www.driftalliance.com

Ryuji Miki
Translated By:Masaki NakayamaAnother Diaries drifter plagued with problems throughout the season is the former D1GP champ, Ryuji. Despite the combined efforts of A'PEXi and the Bergenholtz brothers, Ryuji's RX-7 has been a victim of mechanical issues.

I was tied in Tenth Place, going into competition at Irwindale, which is a position that I wanted to end the season with. I arrived in the U.S. on Thursday of competition week and yes... I was tired and very sleepy, but went straight to the track for my practice session, and since I did not want to break the vehicle, drove in "practice mode" the entire time. I was very familiar with the Irwindale course, so during practice sessions on Friday and Saturday, I concentrated mostly on practicing tsuiso runs. Then came time for Qualifying, to get into the Top 16. During my approach into the main bank on my first run, I initiated too late to take the highest line, and then hit the wall, which caused me to straighten out a bit. I scored low.

I knew I couldn't make any more mistakes. I tried to relax myself, but again, my second run was not my best; my line was a little low from the wall, since I didn't want to hit again, and although I hit all major clipping zones - though not as tight as I would have liked to - the end result was a score of only 86.42.

I was bit more relaxed once I found out that I had qualified, but... the fact is, if you qualify in 16th Place, your first round will be against the driver who qualified in First place! This time, it was against Rhys "The High Speed Drifter" Millen. I requested that my team raise the boost pressure and lower the rear tire pressure so that I had more power and better traction. Rhys led the first run. I think he knew that my machine was slower than his, because during First and Second gear he kept pace with me - very kind of him. As a result, I was able to keep up, following his every move and staying right behind him. The result: I finished ahead, by one point! I knew Rhys wanted to win, and anything could happen during the second run, so I drove my machine to its max and held back nothing. Unbelievably, the score came back in my favor, again!

I faced Vaughn Gittin Jr. during the Great 8, who is a driver I have lost to in the past. But, with the excitement and adrenaline of winning against Rhys, I had confidence that I could beat him. The first run was JR's lead... and his machine was so very fast that I could not keep up. I caught him on the bank, but couldn't keep up. JR stuck right on my RX-7's bumper for my lead run, and won the round. Nice battle, JR!

At this point, nothing is 100% confirmed for the next season. My wish is to work side-by-side with my current team, whom I still have not fully paid back for all of their hard work and support. I hope everyone will continue to support me next year, and I will be back with a brand new machine!

P.S. I will study more English as well ...

A'pexi
www.apexi-usa.com

Nitto
www.nittotire.com

Mazda
www.mazda.com

Sam Hubinette
After losing the lead to Tanner at Sonoma, Sam and his Viper are heading into Irwindale in Second with only a few points separating him from his third Formula D Championship.

Our Irwindale experience began the week before the event, when we went out on the track to finalize the Mopar Viper's gearing, spring rate, rear wing angle, toe out, camber, and damper settings. This all was to make the car fast, smooth and predictable for a demanding track like Irwindale Speedway, where you get a lot of downforce on Turn One's bank, because of it's high speed entry. What's most challenging is to make the car work equally well around the oval, and in the infield's flat, slower turns.

With the Viper already dialed in, I spent most of Friday giving ride-a-longs to different friends and press people. Then, during the last part of the practice session, I went up against Orido for a tandem run. Coming into the infield, I transitioned too late behind him and ended up right in the wall, damaging both the front and the rear of the Viper. It was the biggest hit in my history of drifting. Everything went from feeling "awesome" to "not so good" pretty damn fast.

The NuFormz crew managed to pull the car back together, but had to swap out the differential, so I had to start the race with a completely new final drive. I managed to qualify Fourth, and got a free pass at the start of competition, because Conrad Gruenwald's Corvette broke down during the drivers' intro. I went up against Takatori in the Great 8, and had a big lead on him coming into the infield, until the Viper's rear end came around on me and I nearly spun, giving the move-on to Takatori.

Our season was over, but we had an amazing one... and nearly claimed the championship points race! Second Place is nothing to be upset with. The NuFormz/Mopar/BFG team has been flawless the whole season and I am very proud to have worked with such dedicated, talented people. We're building a new Mopar Drift machine for next year, and will have unveiled it by the time you read this. After that, BFGoodrich will be sending me to the Baja 1000 - another crazy event that I can't wait to take on!

Thanks to all my sponsors, and most importantly, all of you amazing fans and supporters that kept me going-you guys ROCK!

Drift Ya Later!

Toxic Drift
www.toxicdrift.com

Mopar
www.mopar.com

BF Goodrich
www.bfgoodrich.com

Tanner Faust
Good things come in twos: shoes, chopsticks, Siamese twins, testes... In the case of championships, nothing beats a repeat performance: it affirms that the winner took it on merits and isn't just some lucky bastard. Is the 350Z-driving Tanner a bastard? Find out!

Wow, what a weekend! Irwindale had a much more serious feel around the paddock than other events this season. Pranks and jokes around the pits were a bit more taboo than usual, and everyone's suits were zipped straight up to the collar at all times. On the track, things were serious, too. The qualifying scores were very low and judges succeeded in making a statement: be willing to risk everything, on every run, or pack up the trailer! Fortunately, we qualified Second, and avoided major damage to the car in doing so. But that put me up against Haruguchi for the first round, and the last time I battled him I went into the wall after some controversial braking. I knew I absolutely had to win the round to keep the pressure on Samuel for the championship points race, which we were both in contention to win.

Leading Haruguchi, I went as fast as possible, and braked very late for the inner oval. I earned the advantage. Following, I knew I could catch him, but I didn't want to be right on top of his S15 in case he had a "problem" like last time. He was very slow on the acceleration so I had no choice but to stick with him on the initiation. He gapped me around the oval but I was able to close the distance quickly. Then, he slowed too much on the infield and lost his drift. I moved on. Sam made the same costly error of losing his drift during his run against Takatori and relinquished the FD Championship. We won it! While the pressure was off for the championship, Rockstar/AEM Team Manager Stephan Papadakis reminded us to focus on the event at hand.

The next few rounds against Ryan Tuerck and Justin Pawlak both required One More Time runs and some swapped paint to get through, before the final round with JR, who was killing it all weekend. I gave him some decent runs but he pushed a bit harder and deserved the event win. Congrats to JR for retiring his Mustang in style, and Congrats to Rockstar/AEM Drift Team members Stephan, Sean and Carlos for battling through another season right to the top! We did it!

Rockstar
www.rockstar69.com

AEM
www.aempower.com

Tanner Foust
www.tannerfoust.com

Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. and his Mustang have long held the honors as the sole D1GP winner from the U.S. In Formula D, on the other hand, the top spot on the podium has been as elusive as feet to a fat man.

First of all, let me just say, "WOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!" Round 7 was an incredible event in which I literally KO'd everything keeping me from a win all season long. The Falken Tire Mustang was absolutely on-point throughout practice and Qualifying-screaming and taking everything I threw at it! And I felt more than confident heading into competition.

Tandem began with us facing Bill Sherman, who has been killing it since he came back to FD just a few events ago. Once I knocked him out, I was up against former D1 champ Ryuji Miki; I ended up beating him with a 17-12 final score. In the following round, I was up against Takatori who also fell to the 'Stang after putting up a good fight. So there I was, after a terrible season, heading to the finals against last year's champ Tanner.

We lined up, I gave him a nod, and off we went. He was leading, so I knew I had to do everything I could to remain 99% focused. I literally put our car on the wall around Turn 1, and ran the top of the bank so high that I was looking down on him - so close that my bumper ripped off. I kept right on Tanner for the rest of the run, and was awarded the advantage. At that moment, I knew I had it in the bag!

I drove the same line during my lead run, and kept my foot to the floor. No One More Time run was called for, so we both knew the judges had their minds made up. When I was announced as the winner, I hit the ground for a second then jumped on the roof of my car and started screaming! After a short speech to the incredible Irwindale crowd, we proceeded to the podium ceremony. Tanner, Justin Pawlak and I soaked everyone with champagne, so they could all feel a piece of the win.

Standing on top of a Formula D podium has been a long time coming for me. We've battled through a rough season, and finally shown what dedication and unconditional support from fans and sponsors can do. Thank you all for all your support. I'll be coming out swinging in the new '10 mustang next year! And oh yeah: Irwindale is my house!

Falken Tire
www.falkentire.com

K&N Filters
www.knfilters.com

Ford Racing
www.fordracing.com

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