Round Three of the 2010 Formula Drift season was "The Gauntlet", aka New Jersey's Wall Speedway. And whenever drivers run the gauntlet, they have to deal with a 16-degree banked oval. Many try, most fail. On the last East Coast event of this year's series, these two guys both got to spray some champagne around.
This man must be a drive-aholic. He races here, in Europe, does TV stuff . . . he's unstoppable. Except for when he breaks a driveshaft (resulting in a still-respectable Sixth Place across the pond), or if his engine mysteriously loses power. But Mr. Foust will explain all.
I love the fans in New Jersey. Seriously, they rock! But Wall Speedway is not my favorite place to compete. Don't get me wrong-it's a good facility and has a very cool staff, but it doesn't seem to make for the most interesting drift track from the driver's seat. From the stands, however, this year's event turned out to be pretty bitchin'. There was carnage, fire, drama, wheels flying off (OK, there wasn't really any fire). It was a V-8 circus, with Jarod DeAnda screaming away as the ringmaster.
My event started with a flight from England, where I was competing in the European Rallycross Championship, and going straight to the track for Thursday practice. Things were a bit of a blur from there until I was next to Martinez's V-8-powered purple S13. Taka Aono was giving him some last-minute advice, then we were off. The two runs felt fine and I got the win. This was turning out pretty good.
A blink and a packed pit walk later, Stephan (Frenchy) Verdier and I were up in front of the tree. Verdier and I go way back-we competed in rally racing for a few years. He was on his way out of the sport and I was just starting; he beat me every race he finished. Frenchy was so fast in those rally cars and he's proving to be just as competitive in drift cars, so this was no easy battle. However, a few turns later, he lost a wheel, drove over it mid-drift, and showed me the underside of his Subie. I bailed, locked up the brakes, and missed him by less than an inch. Alright-officially awake now.
Next up, Ryan Tuerk. I don't have the best record against Tuerk. And this track-more than any other-benefits smaller, lighter cars like his Solstice. I knew I'd have to attack from the very first initiation in order to have any chance. Being one of the more sportsmanlike competitors, I believe he waited for my heavier car off the line. Or not . . . I don't know. Either way, we initiated side by side into the bank, made slight contact, but we both pulled out of it inches apart. I shouldn't have hit him, but it was light enough that his drift was uninterrupted. I continued to attack, risking everything on every corner for the rest of the run and it paid off with the win. Nice.
A few minutes later, I was racing Vaughn Gittin. He has kept his nose clean this year and, if it wasn't for Daijiro Yoshihara, would almost have the championship wrapped up right now. Off the line, my car lost power-for the first time in four years-and stumbled its way down the straight. I flung it into the first corner, almost faking the drift, but it made things worse and I hit the wall. By this time, Gittin was halfway around the track, so I tried to clear the motor out for our second run. It worked. By the time we lined up again, the car was running as normal. What a bummer. For my lead run, I warned Gittin I had a motor issue, but there was nothing anyone could do differently. I was going to go as fast as I could and he was going to chase with full commitment. If the car died, we would crash. It didn't, and Gittin moved on to the Finals. I hope we get a rematch later in the season.
In the consolation round, I paired up with Darren McNamara. Following was tricky, but I was able to stay closer than I thought, so that was nice. he made a few errors on the bank during his lead run, but he caught me anyway. We made contact in the last corner and I spun. I felt lucky to move on to the podium spot because D-Mac owned this track all weekend.
That was it. Good times. I left at five the next morning for a Top Gear shoot that will be on air in December, then another flight to Los Angeles for a Speed TV Supercars Exposed shoot. It's been a crazy summer and it's getting crazier. Please stay tuned at tannerfoust.com or find me on Facebook. Next stop, Seattle!
Two for two. Yoshihara is on a spectacular roll, so we're crowning him this year's king of the East Coast. Is it too early to talk of winning the championship outright? We don't want to hex the poor guy, like he "hexed" poor Takatori. Don't believe it? Read Dai's confession here.
What a weekend! I'm so happy to write this for Import Tuner, because it means I did well again.
On Wednesday I blew a head gasket of my S13's LS engine after only two practice laps. But Scott (SPD), Mike (MotoIQ) and Chris (KW Suspension) worked very hard and fixed it pretty quick, so I was able to drive a few practice laps on Thursday. The car felt really good and I had a feeling we could do well.
In Qualifying, first run, I tried to go a little conservative to get a decent score. But I guess I was too excited-I went harder than I should have and spun out. Naturally, I got zero points. Man, that was a nightmare! I didn't talk to anyone, just waited my turn for the second run. My heart was gonna explode. I knew I would be done if I made any mistakes. But I really wanted to qualify high to get some points. So I decided to believe in myself and try hard. It worked out and I ended up qualifying in Third Place.
In the Top 32, I went up against Brian Wilkerson, who spun while I was leading. He hit the wall during practice, and it seemed his car wasn't working right after that. In the Top 16, I faced Forrest Wang. I've seen his driving during practice and he seems very consistent. We both had good runs, but I think my car was faster and I was able to get closer when I was following. That enabled me to move up to the Top Eight.
In this round, I was up against Michihiro Takatori. He spun when I was leading. The bad vibes I had been sending to the car following me seemed to work. And I had a solid run when I was following. On to the Final Four.
Now I had to run against Darren McNamara. I knew his car was fast, so we lowered the tire pressure by 5 psi to try and gain a little more traction. He was really fast. The battle was close, so the judges called One More Time. When I was following, he was super-close to the wall on the bank. Too close. He hit the wall pretty hard, couldn't fix the car on time, and I went through to the Finals.
In the final round, I went up against Vaughn Gittin, Jr. I had been watching him closely, since he was the points leader and I was Second. I was hoping someone would beat him sooner, but he was driving so well. I told myself, 'I'm the only guy who can stop him,' so I tried my best. It was an extremely tough battle. He drove really great, but I guess I did slightly better. I won!
I can't believe I won again. It was another victory with great teamwork. I really appreciate every team member's effort. I got so many encouraging comments through Twitter and Facebook during the event, which I'm really grateful for.
I'm happy, but I'm still in Second Place for the championship, because of how awesome JR is driving this year. I'm very excited about the prospect of battling him for the title. I will keep working hard and try to get more podium finishes. Please keep supporting me, everyone! Thanks!