In all forms of competition, there are upsets; the statistically favored inexplicably losing to the underdog,. Duster Douglas knocking out Nintendo-era, pre-ear consuming Mike Tyson was an upset. The Americans beating the Soviets in hockey in the 1980 Olympics was so upsetting, Disney made a film about it. When Rodney King lost the verdict to the LAPD, people were so damn angry, liquor stores, swap meets, and racial harmony burned for days. Apparently no, we can't all get along.
But all of that pales in smoky, tire-reeking comparison to what happened at Road Atlanta for our Second Chapter of Formula D Diaries. With eight of the greatest drifters telling us, in their words, every detail that goes on before and during race day, none of them landed on the podium. On statistics alone, with a numerical half of the Top 16 we had a 50 percent chance. Oh well. As the great adage goes, shit happens. To find out how it happened eight times over, read ahead.
A seasoned racer, Tyler started off the season with transmission woes in his KDM tire wrapped, JDM suspension-sponsored DTM Porsche. Three-lettered acronyms aside, will Tyler and his new six-speed transmission take on Atlanta? All is revealed in his first sentence.
My nightmare of a season continues...I wasn't very confident about competing at Road Atlanta since it is an e-brake initiation track that can be very tricky in the Porsche. So, my goal was to go there, get a solid finish, and leave with some points.
JIC made a few changes and Thursday's practice was going as expected. The initiation was tricky, but the Hankook Porsche was solid through the rest of the track. We now had a six-speed since the five-speed broke in Long Beach and JIC also decided to change the solid transmission mount-which we think broke the transmission-to a rubber mount system. With an hour to go in practice the transmission popped out of gear and we noticed a loud noise starting to come from the motor. We decided to play it safe and take it to Kinetic Speed Shop so we could get the Porsche up on a lift.
Long story short, we found out that the rev limiter was not working and I unknowingly over-revved the motor with wheel speed. Rev limiter is just a tad bit important on a drift car. Anyway, this caused a rod bearing to go, so the JIC crew worked from 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon straight through 9 a.m. Friday morning and rebuilt the entire motor! Practice went well, and since we left Long Beach with no points, we were in unfamiliar territory of being unseeded. We went out in unseeded qualifying and on my first run, exiting the horseshoe, I got on the exit curb and it popped out of gear! Nonetheless practice on Friday night and Saturday morning went awesome. The motor had gobs of power, the Hankooks were giving tons of grip, and the gearbox was holding up.
In qualifying, as a driver, you push just a little bit more than you would in practice as far as your speed and clipping points. I started my first run at 93 mph, and I could not get any closer to the first three clipping points. As I exited the horseshoe, I grabbed Third and started working on getting out to the outer clipping point. I touched the exit curb with my right rear and Third gear popped out. I quickly stuffed it back in, but it had already affected my drift. On my second run, I left the start line going through the gears and Third wouldn't engage. I got it in eventually, but my speed was way down, killing the run. I was in total disbelief because I know it's not good enough to get us in. We thought that it was popping out of gear due to the rubber mounts. Shoot me now!
This is not the season I pictured, but it is what it is, and all we can do is move on to the next round. I was excited to go back to Wall N.J. since we did so well last year, but of course, with my luck, they closed the fricking track! Does anyone have a voodoo doll for sale?
Surprising Long Beach, the Scion community, and himself with a Top 16 finish, Ken Gushi went into Round Two in his new tC with points in his pockets and looming electrical gremlins.
For Round Two of Formula Drift in Atlanta, I had more confidence in the RS-R Scion tC, especially since we finished Long Beach in the seeded group. I remember telling myself that the car should be even better since its first event; however, things could not have gone worse.
I arrived at Road Atlanta early Friday morning, expecting a full day of practice and seat time to adjust to changes we had made to the car-power had been increased by about 160 horses, and the rear tire size changed from a 245 to a 255. As practice for the seeded group began, I noticed the car was not idling and the power was a bit low. I smashed on the throttle and flipped through the gears approaching Turn 1. As soon as I pulled the side brake up to initiate a drift, I noticed the engine was dead. I had no power to continue drifting and straightened out almost immediately. The car's electrical components were checked and I was given the green once again, but the problem persisted through my second practice run. It seemed as if the turbo didn't want to listen to what the engine was saying. Later that night, we noticed that there was a problem with the ECU. JW, my faithful Toyo mechanic, pulled out a few resistors from a home theater DVD player and had them soldered in place of damaged resistors in the car's ECU. Believe it or not, that DVD player saved our weekend...or so we thought.
During practice, I managed to drift the entire course once around, but with below average performance. I reassured myself that this was the first run out and I shouldn't expect to pull 100 points from the start. But my second run confirmed my fears that this was simply not our weekend; I only cleared half the course, before losing power again. I drove back to grid and was told by my crew that it was not the ECU causing problems this time, but the clutch. We burned a multi-plate carbon-fiber clutch. I guess my left foot is too heavy. Having no time to repair the clutch, we decided to throw up the white flag.
Failing to qualify for an event, without actually attempting to, is a very depressing experience. But, I remind myself that it's only our second event with this car and that we're learning the tC's bugs. There will be changes made to the car for Englishtown, and things should be better from here on. Drifting takes quite an emotional toll when things aren't going as planned, but I look forward to going in the right direction.
The former D1 champ is struggling to dial in his ride for Formula D. After losing to Tanner in the first round at Long Beach, Ryuji Miki is back in Atlanta hoping for the Top Spot.
The practice session started as soon as I arrived from the airport. I had a good feeling after the practice runs, and it gave me confidence that I would be in the Top 16. The situation however started to go bad, as we had encountered transmission failure, which the team had to replace during the night. The second day was qualifying for race day, and since I was a seeded driver, it was another practice day for me. After re-setting the suspension, the condition of the car was getting better, but once again, transmission failure! The mechanics had to change the transmission again.
On race day, unfortunately, I only had two practice runs before entering the race. The transmission felt better than the day before. I had to qualify in the Top 16 in order to get points. First Round: First corner was cleared, in-field hairpin section was cleared, then up-shift to Third gear (very smooth shift) to enter the final corner. Since the rpm was low, I had to kick the clutch once, then, Third gear blew...again. Transmission failure. With little hope and a lot of motivation from the team, I attempted the second run without Third gear.
At the straight, First to Second to Fourth gear. My speed at the straightaway was very slow and I could not gauge the entering point for initial drift at the first corner. That lead to two tires being off-course and I could not maintain the "drift" at that point...finished.
If I was more conservative, I might have been able to keep my position in the Top 16, but I really wanted to run full force. Unfortunately, that led me to end with zero points and fall out from the seeded list of drivers. It is becoming more difficult for me to become Series Champion, but I really want to finish this season with a high rank, and I need to keep trying my best.
Second Place finisher for the '07 Formula D Season and the winner of Round 1 at Long Beach, Chris Forsberg is looking to increase his lead in his Orange Z33.
Atlanta has always been my favorite stop on the Formula Drift Championship. It is a beautiful circuit with a huge entry, and the spectators can see every inch of the track. But returning to where we won last year, and with a points lead from our win at Long Beach, we felt the pressure to maintain our position.
Our familiarity with the track meant we had very little trouble adjusting the car for competition. We went straight into running serious tandem practice by Friday, where I focused on closing the gap to within a foot of my lead car after the second turn, through the horseshoe, and down the hill. After a few more hours Saturday morning, I felt ready. Time to do it. Qualifying came and it was hotter than ever. Combined with the humidity, the drivers seemed to be wearing out as the day wore on. But as soon as the OK came to fire-up, the adrenaline brought us to our toes. Before I knew it, I was rolling downhill into Turn 1, pulling the handbrake, and setting adrift. After two runs, I felt confident; no spin-outs, no tire off-track...but the score wasn't as high as I'd hoped. No matter, we'd made Top 16-mission accomplished.
My first match-up in competition was to follow Takatori and his ER34 Skyline. He's a newcomer to Formula Drift and all I knew about him was that his car is fast-so I wanted to get as much speed going into Turn 1 as I could. The flag dropped and everything went as planned until my engine stalled heading into the second turn. Almost as quickly, it re-fired and started burning tire again, but the hesitation slowed my roll and I was unable to catch up to Takatori. I felt as if there was no chance we were going to win. On my lead run I did exactly what I remembered during qualifying, and was met with good fortune-Takatori straightened out hard and came up short in points, necessitating a "one more time" run.
As the flag dropped, Takatori seemed to be hesitating off the line-I knew he was just playing me, so I stayed as close as possible, even as he gunned it flipping into the first corner. Sliding around the second turn and into the horseshoe, I slammed the car into gear and started closing in real hard, bringing me door to door with the Skyline. At this point I was struggling to keep the car drifting without hitting my competitor. I lost some momentum on the big downhill link, allowing the Skyline to pull away a bit. After the run, I remember feeling unsure as to how the judges were going to score us, but it came back 7 to 4 Takatori. We were beaten. I gave my lead run all I had, but the deficit was too great; we were out.
We were disappointed, and I wished that I could have done better. But as the night went on, all the top drivers were knocked out very early on. It was very surprising, if not a bit of cold comfort that we couldn't place higher. At the end of the day, our points standing left us tied with Samuel for First, which was the first time ever that the championship lead was tied between two drivers. We look forward to regaining the lead on my home track in Englishtown, N.J.
Nos Energy Drink
The two-time winner of Formula D, the Crazy (and only known) Swede of drift, Sam Hubinette lost Long Beach to Chris Forsberg. With Thor on his side, Sam is aiming his Mopar-powered Mjollnir straight at the title.
Overall, it was a good weekend at the Formula Drift Round Two event at Road Atlanta, with some disappointments. We had the supercharged '06 championship Viper out there, but we ran into some problems with the lifters, so we decided to run the other Viper. It's pretty awesome to have two cars! We managed to get the non-supercharged Mopar Dodge Viper SRT10 competitive with the other championship one, but we were struggling with the 335 KDW tires from BFGoodrich. This was the first time we ran that size on the Viper in a competition, and we were fighting too much traction, so we had to make changes on the car to get it looser in the rear.
I qualified Fourth and went up against Conrad Grunewald in the Top 16 eliminations and managed to beat him and his monster Corvette. He is an awesome driver and a good buddy of mine. In the Great 8, I went up against Takatori in his Skyline and had an advantage after the first run, with me leading 8 to 7. One of the tricky parts of Atlanta is that you are drifting down a straightaway, and with the gearing I have, you have to shift gears. If you do not shift fast enough, you lose your drift. With that said, I rushed too hard and got into Fifth gear instead of Third. I was done for the day. There was no one to blame except myself. Crap! LOL.
The good news is that I bumped up to First Place in a tie with Forsberg in the overall points chase and we are getting ready for Jersey and a brand new track, so that is exiting.
Drift Ya Later!
The '07 Formula D champ missed the top spot at Long Beach and the first chapter of Formula D Diaries, but he's back for Atlanta. With a Third Place in Round 1, Tanner needs a win to secure his second title.
Atlanta was a wild ride. After plenty of practice I was very comfortable with the Rockstar 350Z on the seven-turn course, but with a stock transmission, one of the hardest parts of the track was shifting into Fourth gear mid-drift without "upsetting the car" in front of the judging stand. But with the great torque of the AEM VQ, I was able to find a final drive that let me stay in Third gear for the whole track!
On game day there were some serious runs put down for the Top 16 qualifying. JR, after expressing his "bitterness" about last year's qualifying circumstances, was out for retribution. The decibels of his driving style set car alarms off in every confederate flag flying driveway in Georgia and earned him the Top Spot after the first of two runs. Last second though, I was able to narrowly beat him to put Rockstar on the top qualifying run.
My first tandem run was against Kenji Yamanaka in his S15. This wasn't the car he usually drives and it was a bit underpowered. Despite Kenji battling hard, I was stoked to get the better of him.
After moving on, I went against Ryan Tuerck who was looking a bit inconsistent throughout the week, but still was laying down some great runs. I led him in the first run and tried to put down a good lap while learning where he was fast and slow. I gained a 9 to 7 advantage. In the next lap I followed, giving him quite a bit of room into the first corner, but it wasn't enough. The sticky Toyos reeled him in before the transition back to the right-hand second turn, so I backed off to allow his rear bumper to sweep across the nose of my Nissan. In doing so, I put myself offline in the second turn and my back tires got into the marbles. Once on the loose rubber and dirt, the car started floating. The rear of the Z felt like it was on air and it went all the way to the grass. "That was both tires...S@#&!," I thought as I chased Tuerck down through the rest of the course. Two tires off the course equals a zero point run in Formula D, so I was stuck watching the finals from the Judging stand. Luckily Samuel and Chris also made mistakes, so the championship will stay tight.
Vaughn Gittin Jr
The sole U.S. D1GP victor, Vaughn Gittin is looking for a Formula D trophy to hang on his Mustang's neck. With a Top 16 finish in Long Beach, JR is looking to gitterdun!
Road Atlanta is one of my favorite courses. The insane downhill bomb of an entry matches the high-speed, deep-angles I love, and the varying transitions and elevation changes offer great challenges that are rewarding to overcome. The crowd's southern hospitality and enthusiasm always gives off a great energy, and I came to Atlanta with no doubt in my mind that I was going to do everything I could to make the Falken Mustang the talk of the town!
Friday's practice session was all about having fun and dialing the car in. Forsberg and I even did a little door-to-door playing around for the large crowd on hand for practice. I left the track that night sitting in Third Place for qualifying and feeling very confident in the 'Stang. The next day, I knew I'd already made Top 16 and had nothing to lose, so I went insane on my second qualifying run, and entered at 95 mph-the fastest entry speed of the weekend, putting me solidly in First Place, until "Golden Child" Foust beat me by a half-point, knocking me to Second overall.
My qualifying position paired me against rookie driver Pat Mordaunt. He was about 16 mph slower than me in qualifying, which I knew was going to make things a bit interesting during the battle. Believe it or not, it is a lot harder to pace a slower, inexperienced driver, than it is to try and beat one of the best. He put up a decent fight, but the judges awarded me the victory. I look forward to battling Pat again once he has a bit more competition experience under his 17-year-old belt.
My next battle paired me with Rhys, and I was looking forward to getting my revenge from the FD Finals a couple years ago when I had a valve stem fail and he defeated me! I lead our first run, and knew I was going to have to throw down to get the victory. I entered like a mental patient with insane speed and almost backwards angle. I hit the first clip perfectly, but had way too much speed and just barely dropped two tires after the first turn, meaning I was awarded zero points. I had nothing to lose going into the second run, so I literally planted my right front Azenis on his door-so close to him that I knocked my mirror off in Turn 1. We both stayed in drift and completed the course. The 'Stang spewed smoke all over him, showing the crowd I was the dominant driver, even before the 8 to 7 score came in and proved it. Unfortunately, my first-run tire-drop allowed Rhys to advance into the Final Four, where he went on to win the event (congrats, pal). I presented him my broken mirror during the trophy ceremony, complete with a love letter I wrote to him in some of my girlfriend's lipstick. Muah!
In a completely new ride this season, JDM pilot Dai Yoshihara, is getting used to his USDM GTO. With less seat time than he's used to, the '08 season is quite literally, do or dai.
Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to drive the GTO since Formula D Round 1. At the practice session, the GTO ran pretty good and I was really comfortable driving it, but every time I went tandem with somebody, I had a really hard time keeping up with them. So we tried a different suspension setup to get more traction, which made it better, but still not too good. Luckily, the GTO has good angle and I drove pretty well during qualifying, ending up in Third Place.
In the Top 16 Round, I went against Robbie Nishida. It was my first time going against him in competition. We had practiced together in the beginning of the day and he was really fast, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy keeping up with him. Lucky for me, I had good angle and line, and Robbie went off the track a few times, so I moved onto the next round.
In the Top 8 Round, I was against Bill Sherman. His speed was similar to mine and he had good angle too. We both drove really well, but I think my line was a little better than his and that made me move on.
In the Top 4 Round, unfortunately I went against Rhys! I really wanted to beat him, more than any other time, because now he is my boss! LOL. Right before the battle, Rhys said over the team radio, "I would be happy if Dai beat me, cause that means I picked the right driver." I knew he's really fast and there's no way I can beat him in the speed game. The Solstice can go faster than the GTO, but the GTO can make more angle than the Solstice, so I focused on angle and line more than speed. It was a really close battle: Rhys was faster, but I had more angle, so it went to one more time. I lost! WTF! Almost! I guess he picked the wrong driver. Well, I will kick his ass next time!
For Third Place match I went against another Solstice with Ryan Tuerck. It's the same car as Rhys', but their driving styles are different. Ryan was a little slower than Rhys, but he had good angle. It was also a close battle and we did one more time. And I lost again...I lost twice in a day. WTF! Hopefully, we will modify to make more traction by next round. Then I will win!
Rhys Millen Motorswww.store.rmproducts.com