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Formula D Round 2 Preparation and Recap

Category : Events

My plan for this year was to drive in the full Formula D season. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to finish the car for Long Beach without cutting corners. So I decided to try to finish the car in April, test at Club Loose Spring Moves, and then start my season at Road Atlanta.

I got the car running and driving for Spring Moves on April 28th and headed to Englishtown. My goal for the day was to throw around the car and beat on it enough to expose any issues. The suspension setup and alignment was rushed, so I didn’t worry much about how the car was driving. It performed well for the first outing, and I was happy with the added grip and smoke from the Falken tires.

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The car didn’t have any problems during the test, so the next week was spent going through the Formula D rulebook and making sure everything was in order. The car was also lighter than I wanted, so I decided to add more weight to get it over 2800 lbs. After the initial test, it weighed 2710 with me in it, but I wanted to get over 2800 to have the option of running 265-wide tires and to have a safety margin in case the car measured lighter or the tires measured wider than expected. After adding various finishing pieces, covers, and the maximum 50 lbs of ballast, the car was up to 2780. I got 255-wide tires for this event just to be safe, but I was hoping the Formula D scales would be on the heavier side and allow me to get over 2800. In addition to this work, I aligned the car again and added caster because I was chasing the wheel around at Spring Moves. I tried adding caster through the camber plates so I wouldn’t lose any angle pulling the wheels forward with the tension rods.

Tony took the car down to Atlanta along with his car, and I flew in Wednesday night with my mechanic, Kareem. On Thursday morning, Kevin Wells inspected the car. Luckily, there was nothing wrong, so we went straight on the scales. The car weighed 2822 with a full tank, which is right around what I was going for.

We had 4 hours of practice on Thursday. The setup on the car was decent for this track, so I decided to just drive and not waste time making changes. I basically drove for 4 hours straight with just one break in the middle for fuel and tires. It felt sketchy on the first few laps, and I was still chasing the wheel around. Once I got into a rhythm, the car felt great, and I could focus on the more difficult parts of the track. The only part I was having trouble with was extending the drift to the outside clipping point going into the horseshoe. The car scrubs speed faster now, and this part of the track was uphill, so the car would slow down super fast if not on throttle. I probably should have taken out some toe from the rear because it was also tough to keep it sideways off throttle going into the horseshoe. Overall, I felt pretty good after Thursday practice, and a few people were telling me that my runs looked solid.

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On Friday, we only had one hour of practice before qualifying, so I made sure to be one of the first cars up to the grid to get as many runs as possible. I got about 5 runs in that practice and was still struggling getting to the outside clip in the horseshoe. We decided to just go up in tire pressure a bit to get the car to slide out a little easier. I didn’t want to change anything major without any more practice time. I was the first car to run in qualifying and scored a 65 with a relatively safe run. I thought that would have a decent chance of making it into top 32, so I drove as hard as possible for the second run. I wanted to make sure I hit all the clips this time and got the 10 points for speed, so I was flooring it as long as possible coming up the hill to the horseshoe and flicked the car hard to slide up to the outer clip. Unfortunately, I flicked it too hard or the car bounced weird on the rumble strips causing me to spin out.

It was going to be close whether I would make it into top 32. After everyone had qualified, we were told at the driver’s meeting that only 3 people hit the minimum speed in qualifying, so everyone would be awarded 10 points for speed. That made my final score a 75. The top 32 was announced and I wasn’t in, so I packed up and went out with my crew for dinner. Then, I got text messages from friends asking why I wasn’t practicing saying that my name is on the top 32 bracket they gave out in the drivers meeting. It turned out that my score was the same as Corey Hosford, so we were tied for 32nd place. I talked to Ryan Sage the next morning and was told that the first set of brackets handed out was incorrect and didn’t account for tie breakers. Even though everyone got 10 points for speed, your measured speed was still used for tie breakers, and Corey had beaten me by a few MPH. Check out the video below showing a couple of my practice runs and qualifying runs from the driftstream.

Overall, I’m happy with how the car performed and how I drove although it would have been nice to get to the tandem battles. The next round is in two weeks in Florida, so I’m looking forward to building on the experience from this weekend and getting a better result.

Thanks to Falken Tire and Sikky Manufacturing for the support, Kareem, Adam, and Alicia for coming down and helping out all weekend, and Henry, George, Taku, and Luis for helping tie up loose ends on the car.

Club Loose Finishing Moves

Category : Events

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I went to Englishtown a couple of weeks ago to have some fun at my last event of the year with the Club Loose guys. I got a chance to try out some different setup ideas, burn off my used tires, and practice hitting the bank wall since my car is disposable. It was fun! The back of my car is even more compact now. At the end of the day, I put on crappy tires at 50psi and got some runs with the missiles. That was a good time too.

DMCC Round 7 Recap and Championship Win!

Category : Events

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I went back up to Montreal this weekend for the last round of the DMCC season at ICAR. I had high hopes for this round since I won at this track at Round 2. But that was in the wet, and this would be the first time for me drifting at ICAR in the dry. I drove up on Friday and hung out with the guys that have been helping me out in DMCC all year. Thanks Kevin, Cedric, and JF for the awesome season! We got to the track on Saturday and waited for Pro practice in the afternoon. The track was changed a little from Round 2 so that we wouldn’t have to avoid a water drain on initiation, basically the same layout but with the walls moved further out. I watched all of the Pro-Am practice to see if I could learn some things and biked the track before going out in the car.

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I took it easy on the first few runs. DMCC was nice enough to put up plastic barriers and tires in front of the high-risk portions of concrete to help save cars throughout the weekend. People really took advantage of it. It was the most crashes I’ve seen in a single event all year. Unfortunately, cleaning up the plastic barriers and tires after each crash took away a lot of practice time. This track was all about the entry and the first turn. I got more comfortable as the practice went on and was able to scrape the wall on the entry a few times without messing up my line. It was a lot of fun.

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I noticed at some point in practice that the fuel pressure was reading high on the fuel rail gauge. It was at around 70psi most of the time and was even up to 80psi at one point. The gauge attached to the regulator at the rear of the car was reading fine at 58psi. It had me a bit worried, but I left it alone since the car seemed to be running fine and didn’t smell like it was running rich. I gave Kevin a ride-along at one point to get his opinion on whether the car seemed down on power. He said it was fast.

On Sunday, we had a short practice in the morning. I noticed the track seemed to have more grip than the previous day, but I adjusted to it after a few runs. My best friend, Carl, gave me a bump down the straightaway at one point because I was too slow, so thanks for that. It definitely gave everyone something to talk about in the pits… haha.

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We didn’t touch anything on the car and waited for qualifying. In my first run, I wanted to put up a score but still needed to be on the aggressive side because there were a lot of drivers doing well this weekend. Also, with the track being so short, there wasn’t much opportunity to distinguish yourself from the competition besides the first turn. My first qualifying run was a safe and solid run, but the track definitely had more grip than it did in the morning session, so I wasn’t able to drift out to the wall like the judges wanted. I thought I was just entering too safely and decided to drive it harder in the second run instead of loosening up the car. I went for my second run, accelerated as hard as I could, and entered later than usual, but I still had too much grip and couldn’t make it out to the wall. I also went wide on the first inner clip after the wall trying to drive the car too hard, so that was a bad run. I got 11th place and was pretty disappointed in that, but judging from the good practice sessions, I felt I could still do well in tandem.

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I was matched up with Tanner in top 16 like many other times this year. I would be following first. The sun had come out before the top 16 and it was noticeably hotter. We added some pressure in the tires to loosen it up and with the track heating up, I thought it would take away some more grip and make the car easier to drive. I gave Tanner a little space on the entry because I wasn’t sure if he’d go deep into the first turn or take a shallow line. He was running shallow most of practice, but it was probably just to avoid ending up in the wall. I had a decent follow run but could never get on his door because I didn’t have enough grip. I thought he was going to be on me pretty good following, so I had to do an awesome lead run to get the win or a OMT. I initied hard into the first turn and scraped all the way down the wall with the left rear. It felt awesome! I rode the wall and finished off the run clean. Tanner followed me well too but wasn’t on my door. We got a OMT.

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When we came back to the start line, I told Kevin to lower the pressures a lot, and we went out for our next set of runs. This time, I initiated right on Tanner’s bumper and followed him perfectly through the first turn. It was looking great, but when he slowed down for the inner clip after the wall ride, I wasn’t able to slow down as fast and had to straighten to keep from hitting him. I thought I was at a big disadvantage and had to get crazy for my lead run. In reality, the judges had reviewed the replay and decided that Tanner slowed down excessively, and they gave me the advantage for that run. Of course, I didn’t know that, so off I went on my crazy lead run attempt. I entered probably the fastest and latest I had all weekend and scraped my way down the wall again. My bumper came off and bash bar got bent into a pretzel, but it didn’t affect my line at all! At some point, I realized I was going way too fast and was heading right into the barriers. I tried to floor it and turn the car to the right to pull it away from the wall, but I ended up spinning out. I kept it floored and spun away from the wall and Tanner. Our wheels touched slightly, but there was no damage. We waited forever to get the decision. I was sure I had lost, but they gave us another OMT! The rationale was that I had the advantage on the first run, and Tanner won the second run.

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I was pretty stoked at this point to have another shot and was thinking that Tanner must be pissed! lol. We lined up again, and I followed him well this time with no mistakes. I guess I could have been closer, but I remember thinking at the end of the run that it was a really good follow and would be hard for him to beat. Tanner’s follow run was great too, and I went a little wide on the first inner clip, which let him close in more. It seemed pretty even between us, but the judges can’t call a third OMT, so they would have to make a decision. We waited forever again, and then Tanner was announced as the winner. I’m not sure if he just followed me closer or if there’s something I did that the judges didn’t like, but I wasn’t too upset about it. Those runs were definitely the best of my weekend, and people were going nuts when I scraped down that wall twice in a row. I had a pretty big lead in the championship and managed to win it even though Briggs went on to finish third in this event. So overall, it was a good season, and I feel like I can drive way better now than when I started. I do need to concentrate more on my qualifying though as that would definitely give me better chances to get on the podium and will be super important in FD.

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Street Life Tour Recap

Category : Events

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With the last event of the DMCC championship coming up this weekend and me leading the points, I probably should have chilled out and not driven anywhere this past weekend to not break/crash the car. But I would be bored, so I decided to go to Ohio for Street Life Tour at the same track where I almost killed myself the last two years… haha. We got a lot of practice Friday night, which was really helpful. I drove as much as I could to get comfortable and felt pretty confident after the session. Banked tracks are way easier with 400 hp. Here are a couple of runs from early in the practice session:

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By Saturday, there were close to 40 drivers entered in the competition. This would be a tough event. With the number of drivers that signed up, it was impossible to get much practice on Saturday. I got about five practice runs total before qualifying. In qualifying, I put down a solid first run for the first time in a while. I’ve been screwing up my first qualifying runs in the last few competitions I’ve done, so it was nice to have a score on the board going into the second run! There were a lot of good drivers at this event, so everyone was pretty even and not making many mistakes throughout the course. The qualifying order would basically be decided by who got higher on the bank. I went 100% for my second run and tried to throw it up high on the bank. I got higher than the first run but still had too much grip to get right up to the wall. I also went too wide coming off the bank. I qualified 7th.

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I would be going up against Juan Marquez in top 16. I’ve never seen him drive previous to this weekend but watched him for a few runs on Friday night, and he pretty much nailed the course right off the bat. He was running small tires though, so I would have to be careful to not get screwed up following him at slower speed. I led first and put down a clean run. I gave Juan some room on the bank when following and closed up on him in the infield but didn’t want to get too close since I’ve never tandemed with him before. I think I followed him closer, but he had a higher line on the bank, so we got a OMT. I did another clean lead run, and he tapped the wall behind me, which messed up his run. On my follow run, I got closer to him in the infield to make sure we didn’t go OMT again. Just as I was closing in on his door, he spun out, and we both managed to stop with no contact. I got the win.

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In top 8, I’d be going against James Evans. He was driving really well, and he has one of the fastest cars in a straight line and in drift. I thought I would have to go 100% to beat him. I lowered the air pressure to try to get some more grip mostly for the drag race part. Just as we were lining up to go, Dan Savage broke his oil cooler and sprayed oil all over the track in the previous battle. It took almost 45 minutes to clean up “Oil Apocalypse 2011″, as Jarod referred to it. It went from day to night during the wait, and it got significantly colder. After the cleanup, I got back in my car and went to do some donuts to warm up the tires. I kicked the clutch in second gear to spin it around, and the car just understeered. WTF. I weaved back and forth to try to get the front tires to warm up, but there’s not much you can do at 10mph to heat up front tires.

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Anyway, we lined up to go. I followed first and accelerated as hard as I could. James still got about a one car gap on me by the time we initiated into the bank. I initiated, and the car understeered! I e-braked hard again and got the car sideways. James had a decent gap on me already, so I went as fast as I could knowing I had to put together a ridiculous chase run to have a shot at winning. We came off the bank, and I was catching up to him really fast. I tried to time my braking so I would be right on him as we transitioned for the next turn. But I misjudged and crashed into his right rear with my left front corner. It wasn’t that hard of a hit. It only broke my bumper, but I guess it was enough to mess up his transition because he straightened out. I was pretty much done at this point. I finished the course just to make sure nothing broke in the left front suspension, and we lined up for my lead run.

I tried to drive crazy for my lead run to get James to make a mistake. I threw the car high into the bank but went too high and smashed the left rear hard on the wall right as I initiated. I managed to steer down the bank before the front of the car got sucked into the wall, got it back sideways and finished the run. James held it together and got the win. The car still has four wheels, and they are pointing in the correct direction, I think. So it’s good to go for next weekend! Overall, it was a fun event, and I’m glad I came. Some little kid ran up to me afterwards and yelled, “Nice try!” That basically sums it up.

Freedom Moves / HTL Pro-Am Round 3 Recap

Category : Events

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This will be a quick update for once! I went to Freedom Moves over the September 11th weekend. I got a bunch of track time on Saturday. It was nice driving relaxed and tossing the car around on a familiar track again. I would have loved to get in on the 10-car tandem swarms with the DA guys, but I wanted to drive Street Life Tour the next weekend and had no desire to replace my front end during the week. I got in on one of those trains against my best judgment and decided to bail on the second turn after we nearly crashed five times in the first turn… haha. There was an early entry contest later on in the day, which I won. Big thanks to JR/Monster for putting up some cash for the contest and to Kenda for supplying a pair of tires to the winner. And thanks to Tim and Matt for setting it up!

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On Saturday, we had the HTL ProAm Round 3 competition. It was on the back course like last time. I got a few practice runs and put down two decent qualifying runs to qualify 8th. In top 16, I went against B-rad. I led first and was on a clean run. Coming out of the last turn, as I got back on throttle he tapped my right rear just hard enough to spin me out. His power steering cooler broke because it was mounted on the left front where he hit me. I waited until he bypassed the cooler, and we went out for my chase run. I chased him decently well with no mistakes but didn’t do anything spectacular since I had the advantage from him spinning me out on the first run. We came back, and B-rad was declared the winner. The judges didn’t see him hit me or the damage to his car and thought I spun out by myself, so I lost! I was really pissed for about 32 seconds. Then I got over it. Congrats to Tanner on the win!

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DMCC Round 6 Win!

Category : Events

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After Round 5 of DMCC at Mosport, there wasn’t much going on for the next couple of weekends, so I cleaned up the car, changed all the fluids, and made sure everything was good for the final few events of the season. I also took out the engine so I could check on the clutch and fix the bent engine/trans mounts to put the engine in the right place again. I was looking forward to driving again and hopefully getting a good result after a weak showing at round 5. The upcoming event was a combination of DMCC Round 6 and the XDC prize round at St. Eustache, which meant a much bigger purse and some more American drivers competing. DMCC came up with a different track layout compared to what they normally use. Check out the videos to see the layout.

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I drove up on Saturday to Kevin’s house near the track. Cedric from Widened clothing/graphics wanted to vinyl wrap the car for the last two DMCC rounds, so I said… go for it. I had some burgers while Cedric applied the vinyl. He did an awesome job on the design and application. He’s a true professional! We got to the track early on Saturday, had a way-too-long driver meeting, and then got out for practice in the wet. This track is always sketchy in the wet because the front straightaway on the oval is also used as a drag strip and gets super slick when it rains. With a lot of spinouts, some crashes, 40 Pro/Pro-Am drivers, and the long track configuration, practice went really slowly. By the end of the first session, I had 3 practice runs in the wet, which were basically waste because I didn’t want to crash, and 2 practice runs in the dry. In the dry, I was getting too much speed for third gear, but I was bogging and having to clutch kick hard to get in the powerband in fourth gear coming out of the infield onto the front straight. I decided to stop struggling with clutch kicking or trying to upshift/downshift just for that one corner, and I doubled the tire pressure putting it up to 70psi so I could stay in fourth gear. I got 3 runs in the second practice session. I was looking much better but still struggling getting up to the outside clipping point in the last turn.

So after a total of five dry practice runs, it was time for qualifying. On my first run, I came through the first turn way too hot, and there was no way I was staying on track through the second turn. I hit full lock and was in the process of spinning out when I dirt dropped with my left rear wheel, which hooked into the dirt and jerked the car in the other direction, so I didn’t spin. But I picked up a couple pounds of dirt/rock in the spokes of my wheel, and it started vibrating the whole car like crazy. I wasn’t sure if I had broken/bent the wheel at that point, but I kept drifting. I stayed away from the walls for the rest of the run in case the wheel exploded and just tried to finish the course so I can get a score. Thankfully, I didn’t get a zero, but it was one of the lowest scores.

OK, no problem. I still had a second run to get a decent score, and at least I knew I was in the show with the first run. We changed to a different set of wheels and made sure nothing was broken in the rear suspension. We qualify in reverse championship order in DMCC like FD, so Briggs qualifies before me, and I am the last to qualify since I’m leading the points. Just as Briggs lined up to go on his second run, it started pouring rain like crazy. Qualifying was cancelled for the day, and we were told that Briggs and I will qualify the next morning. Check out this sweet rain storm GoPro footage from Dave’s car.

I got to the track Monday morning, and the track was wet. We were not allowed any practice runs and had to qualify in the wet on our first run out. There was a long line of cones back by the staging/burnout area, so I tried to get used to the wet by drifting the longest continuous slalom ever. That was fun, and I think I set some kind of a record. So I went back to the start line after warming up just as Briggs was launching for his qualifying run. He initiated, slid off the track, and crashed into a light pole in the infield. So now I knew to lower my entry speed a bit! I went for my run, got through the infield pretty well, tranitioned on the front straightaway, the car rotated way faster than I expected, went to full lock and was basically facing the wall head on, got it transitioned the other way somehow, and I’m thinking, “Holy crap! This is going to be a good run!” Then I spin in the last turn and get a zero. You’d think I would be disappointed, but I was laughing in the car because of how ridiculous the angle was on the straight and how close I was to eating the wall. That was probably the first time I had a smile on my face all weekend!

So my first qualifying run would have to count, which put me in 19th place out of 20 people that got scores! DMCC/XDC originally decided to do top 32 format for this round, but only 20 people managed to get scores out of about 30 entrants, so the highest 12 qualifiers would automatically advance to the top 16 round. We had another way-too-long driver meeting, and then we got a short practice in the wet where I managed to get 3 runs. I would be going against Cody Loughhead in top 32. I got one run behind him in practice, but he spun out, so I didn’t learn much from that, and it was in the wet.

By the time we got around to the actual competition, the track had completely dried out. I had no idea how Cody was going to drive in the dry, so I decided to give him a car length on the entry and try to close in from there. We initiated, he slowed down a bit, then sped up. I tried to get on the throttle hard to catch up to him, but I gave it too much throttle over the big bump right after the first clipping point, and I spun out! At this point, I didn’t give a crap and was thinking I would be packing up and going home shortly. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Cody drove straight the majority of the run, and there was no advantage for either driver. To his credit, I believe his clutch was slipping. I put down a solid lead run with him straightening behind me, and I got the win.

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In top 16, I was paired with Tanner. I know I can go 100% with him, so I was relaxed going into the battle. I followed first and entered right behind him. He straightened after the first clip and got wobbly. I gave him some room in case he spun out, but he got back in drift. We came out of the infield with him pulling a gap on me, but he straightened again doing the manji on the front straight, so now I just tried to finish the run clean, and I should have had the advantage. He followed me pretty close on the next run but went low on both banks, which the judges specifically did not want. I won again.

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The next battle was with Nick Bro’Alessio in the top 8. I was told that he was driving well, but his line was inconsistent, and he was sometimes going low on the banks. I gave him some room on the entry and closed up through the infield. His angle was shallow coming out of the infield, and he straightened doing the manji on the front straight similar to what Tanner did, so I just finished the run clean and didn’t try to go crazy getting in his door. I knew he’d be gunning for it on the chase run to try to get a OMT, so I tried to ignore him, and just do a mistake-free run. I entered a bit early though and killed my speed too much, which screwed up Nick behind me. The rest of the run was fine, but the judges saw the slower entry and gave Nick the advantage on that run, so we went OMT. I did two clean runs. He had shallow angle coming onto the front straight and a quick straighten there on both runs, so I got the win.

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I did not think I would be in the top 4 when this day started! The next battle was against Marc-Andre Claude, one of the Pro-Am guys that stepped up to Pro for this event. He was doing a great job. I followed him decently well but nothing crazy. He straightened out behind me on my lead run, and I got the win.

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So now I was in the finals with Marc Landreville! Yeeha! Kevin told me to go 100% since Marc knows this track like the back of his hand and is not likely to make a mistake. He also qualified 1st and breezed through into the finals. I had nothing to lose, except the $5,500 difference between 1st and 2nd payout! We entered with a bit of gap, and I closed in through the infield and stayed with him the rest of the way. It was easy to follow him because he’s so smooth on this track. It felt like slow motion, and I didn’t have any “oh shit!” moments like I usually do when I try to chase people close… haha. I knew with 70psi or whatever we had in the rear tires, my car wasn’t fast enough to pull a gap on him, so I wanted to do a clean lead run, and we would see if we’d go OMT or if he would make a mistake and give me the win. On my lead run, Marc got bogged down coming onto the front straight, and I pulled a small gap. I heard him right behind me most of the time though, so I thought we would go OMT, but the DMCC official giving the decisions in front of the stands told us to get out of the cars because the judges chose a winner. Then, they announced me as the winner!

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I couldn’t believe I just won it after such a crappy start to the weekend. A lot of luck and some decent driving gets it done again! Haha. So there’s one more round to go in the season, and I have a pretty good lead on Briggs in the championship since he lost to Landreville in top 8 this round. Hopefully I can finish strong at ICAR in a few weeks.

Big thanks to Kevin for helping out all weekend, JF for spotting and filming, Widened for all the vinyl work and merchandise, and Briggs’ crew for being awesome and helping out with our panicked tire change!

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DMCC Round 5 Recap

Category : Events

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I went up to Canada again this weekend for DMCC Round 5 at Mosport. It was nice having a change of scenery as this round is near Toronto and the only round outside of Quebec. Also, everyone speaks English, so I was able to actually talk to the fans this time. I drove up on Saturday and met up with my crew guy, Kevin. The event was on Sunday, and everything went pretty quick since it was scheduled to end by 5pm.

We got a couple of hours of practice in the morning. I made about 10-15 runs. The track was a short straightaway into a fast full-throttle fourth gear right turn, then slow way down, downshift to third, left turn, manji, double apex left, and slow last right turn. I got the entry down after a few runs, and the slow part of the track was easy (because V8). The only thing that was getting me was coming out of the fast first turn and slowing down for the slow second turn. I kept either overshooting the slow left turn and parking it to avoid going off track or coming up to it too slow and having to e-brake extend. I did have several good runs in practice where I nailed it though. I noticed that my brakes were being weird too. Sometimes I would get on the brakes and it would be normal, pedal goes down a little and brake pressure gradually increases. Other times, as soon as I even touched the pedal, the brakes would almost lock jerking the car when I was barely on the pedal. Not sure why this was happening, or maybe it was just in my head.

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We went into qualifying after practice. I was planning on driving the first run at 90% and just concentrating on getting the braking perfect going into the second turn. I came out of the first turn, transitioned, got on the brakes, shifted to 3rd, got back on throttle, and the transmission came out of gear! Uggh. I straightened out and got a zero for that run. I guess I didn’t put it into gear all the way causing it to pop out.

So this was a crappy situation. I debated whether to be conservative or to go for it on the second run. I had only spun out once in practice and knew it was unlikely to happen again, but it would have been dumb not to qualify trying to do a run at 100%. So I did the second run ultra conservative going slower than usual and with a lot less angle. I concentrated on hitting 3rd gear, and it worked out fine this time. I expected to be towards the bottom of the top 16 because of how safe the run was, but I ended up in 9th place. So when they announced me in 9th, I was thinking, “OK, this is not so bad, at least I won’t be going against one of the top-ranked guys in top 16.” Then, they announced 8th place, Briggs. So now I was thinking, “God, why would you let that happen?” Apparently, Briggs didn’t have a good qualifying session either, so now #1 and #2 in the championship standings would be battling in top 16.

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I was still feeling confident about it. I beat Briggs in the last round. He had some transmission issues in practice so wasn’t out there as much as others, and I never got to pair up with him to practice following and see how fast he was. I followed him first, and I decided to be more on the aggressive side to make sure I could stay with him throughout the course. I took off next to him, got in behind, and went through the first turn about a car length behind. We transitioned and started braking for the second turn. I think he got on the brakes a second before me, because all I remember is me closing in on him way too fast. I stabbed the brakes instinctively, and the car snapped straight. Uggh! I always do that! I kicked it back out and finished the run decently close to him. In the video it doesn’t look like the closing rate was that crazy, but for some reason, I panicked thinking I was going to crash into him. I think I have terrible depth perception.

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Since I was able to catch him when following, I thought I might have a chance to pull out a gap and get a OMT. So I wanted to stay tight on all the clipping points and go as fast as possible for my lead run. I got through the first turn well and got on the brakes for the second turn, ended up slowing down too much and knocking over the inner clipping point, and finished the run with a few car lengths gap on Briggs. Kevin told me Briggs made the same mistake that I did and his car snapped straight in the braking zone. However, he got the win. I was told the judges’ rationale for the decision was that my entry speed on my lead run was slower than my qualifying speed, and I slowed down excessively at the second clip, which suggested that I was doing some “funky business” to mess up Briggs. I agree. Those runs were crap, but I wasn’t trying to screw up Briggs. I was just plain sucking.

Here are the videos of the two runs. Thanks to Pierre-Olivier Belisle for the footage!

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We watched the rest of the competition, which was filled with nice phazing and crashes in that braking zone. Congrats to Pay Cyr for the win. He drove great. Then, I had a nice 8-hour drive home to think about my mistakes… haha. Both Briggs and Laflamme, 2nd and 3rd in the points standings, lost in top 8, so they only gained a few points on me, and I’m still leading the championship.

Thanks to Kevin and Cedric for working on the car and making awesome shirts and hats. Check out Cedric’s brand, WIDENED, on Facebook. The car is still in one piece, so on to round 6 at St. Eustache!

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3

East Coast Drifting Championship Recap

Category : Events

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I went down to West Virginia last weekend to compete in Summit Point’s East Coast Drift Championship. It was a stand-alone competition they were hosting with a $5,000 purse, so I was hoping good drivers would come out, and I could get some practice. I couldn’t take any more vacation days from work, so I drove down Friday night and got there late, got a few hours of sleep, and then off to the track for practice in the morning. We ran the “bridge course” backwards, which is the same course Formula D ran when they came to Summit Point in 2007. The track is a lot of fun, and the first turn is the fastest I’ve ever drifted. It’s a long right turn that we were entering at around 95mph and holding around 75mph in drift.

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We had a lot of practice on Saturday. With some people crashing early and some skipping Saturday practice, there weren’t many cars on track. I got a lot of practice runs to learn the course. The car felt good, and I wasn’t lacking speed compared to others, so I didn’t change anything. Saturday went by with no problems.

I went out Sunday morning for practice and did a few lead/solo runs. Then, I decided to tandem behind people. A lot of guys were having trouble linking the first big turn to the second right turn and were basically jumping the apex of the corner or parking their cars with a lot of e-brake. I was following Alan and Lee. I think Alan slowed down, we all slowed down, then looked like everyone was good so I got back on throttle, Lee never got going though so I slamned into the back of his car pretty hard. Luckily his car didn’t seem to sustain much damage. Nothing structural got bent on my car, but the radiator got pushed back and cracked, and the core support/headlights/bash bar were junk.

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I spent the rest of the practice time pulling out the rad support and installing a spare radiator. I didn’t have any more practice, so my next time out on track was qualifying. I wasn’t worried about it because nothing was bent or broken with the suspension, so I knew the car would drive the same. But I was being a bit cautious hoping I didn’t forget to tighten something and that there wasn’t anything else damaged that I didn’t notice. I knew if anything broke on that 95mph entry, it would be really bad! My two runs were relatively conservative. I slowed down a bit more than the judges wanted coming out of the first turn, but otherwise they were good runs. I qualified 5th.

In top 16, I went against local dude Jorge Aguilar. It was his first comp, and he was having issues linking the track. I did a clean lead run, and on my follow run, he drove straight through the first turn and initiated at the second turn. I followed him and got the win.

In top 8, I was paired with Alan Brentzel. This guy has made a lot of progress in the past couple of years and has been performing well in XDC this year. When I followed him in practice, he seemed slower than me. I ended up giving him too much of a gap in the first turn when following but caught him by the end of the course. He had a good follow run, so we got a OMT.

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I initiated closer to him on the OMT run and was determined to get in his door going into the slower section of the course. It worked out well, and I was basically side-by-side with him towards the end of the track. I backed off at the right time, and gave him room to transition for the last turn while staying on him. It got a bit sloppy at the end since we both jumped the curbing on the apex. I got a sweet gift certificate for “sickest” chase run because of this. When I led, I went into the slower section of the track a bit too fast and had to get on the brakes more than usual to keep from going off track. Alan was staying in 3rd gear but had to downshift to second when I slowed down. He miss-shifted and straightened out so I got the win. I do apologize for that.

In the next round, I went against Lee Alexander. I did a good lead run, and he was about 1-2 car lengths back most of the way. He was entering the first turn slower than me, so it was tough to get right behind him and have enough speed to drift the first turn when following him. He ended up straightening coming out of the first turn as I was following him. I stayed sideways behind him and prayed that he would not get on the brakes… haha. He re-initiated, and we finished the run pretty close. I got the win.

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In the final, I would be going against the robot, Nate Brasz. I didn’t really get to tandem with him in practice, so I had no clue how fast he was, but everyone was saying he was super fast and not using the e-brake at all to extend from the first to the second turn. So I was confident I could drive it in there as fast as possible. I dropped the tire pressures a decent amount to try to get some extra speed. I went through the first turn maybe a car length behind him, then got on the brakes and was closing in on him entering the slower section of the course. Unfortunately, he slowed down a bit more than I expected, and I ended up swiping my left front headlight across the right rear corner of his car. I straightened out, then re-initiated and finished the run. Judging from the mark on my fender, I would have cleared him if I was two inches further back! Uggh. Anyway, I bent the radiator again, but it wasn’t leaking so I did my lead run. It was a solid lap. Nate seemed to take it easy on the entry and close the gap later. He got the win. I’m disappointed, but crashing into someone is always the most satisfying way to lose! And Nate’s car barely had any damage, so he was cool about it.

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I got my check and left as soon as possible dreading the drive home. 4 hours of sleep and back to work on Monday!

I also realized I drove all of Sunday on one set of tires. Sweet.

I have some work to do before DMCC Round 5 in two weeks. But thankfully this is the end of 7 straight weekends of competition for me, and I have one weekend off. I need to do some bending/welding on the front of the car and get a couple of new radiators, and the car should be good to go. I’m not planning anything fancy since this chassis only needs to last 5 more competitions before it becomes scrap metal.

3

DMCC Round 4 Recap

Category : Events

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This weekend I drove in round 4 of DMCC in Montmagny again, same track as round 1. They decided to change the layout, and it made the course more challenging and interesting. But tandems weren’t as good as usual because of people making mistakes and the track being so long. I got to the track Saturday morning. Practice was supposed to start at 3pm, but there was a ridiculous rain storm right at that time that delayed things. It was raining horizontally and everyone/everything got soaked even though we were under tents. The rain stopped after about an hour, and the sun came out. People started practicing, but I waited another hour for the track to completely dry out.

So I got out on track for the first time at around 5pm and did a few runs to feel it out. I tried to drive as much as possible to get comfortable with the new layout. The difficult thing about this track was finding the right speed/line to get on the highest lane in both banked turns. It’s pretty easy to fly off the track here and destroy your car. One bank has no wall and some boulders to hit if you fly off far enough. The other side has a random mix of concrete/steel guard rails to stop you if you go off. So I slowly increased my speed and experimented with different lines to know where I’d need to be to get high on the bank for qualifying. I had changed to softer rear springs and more toe in for this event, so I was getting awesome grip through the turns. I could floor it all the way through the banks, which felt awesome and reminded me of how the car used to drive with the LS1 last year. I kept the tire pressues pretty high to make the car easier to drive for qualifying.

We qualified at around 8pm. I wanted to do a safe run for my first pass, but I did it too safe, and it was a pretty weak run. With the amount of grip I had, I needed to be more aggressive to get the car on the high line. I went 100% on the second run and entered high in the first turn. I was 99.8% sure I was flying off the track, but I stayed on. My transition on the straight was perfect, and I got the car right on the high line in the second bank. I left it in fourth gear even through the last slow section so I could get some smoke going. It felt pretty decent but I didn’t do anything amazing. My crew guy, Kevin, said it was top 5, the crowd reaction was great, and I was pouring smoke at the end. The top 3 had nearly identical scores, but I qualified first! Like last round, only 14 drivers put up scores in qualifying, so I automatically went to the top 8, which was good because I was lacking tires.

In top 8, I went against Carl Nadeau in a LS-powered BMW thing. Carl’s been struggling this year, but he was looking the best he had all year at this event. I led first and did a pretty solid run. He dropped low in the second bank to catch me, so I thought I’d have the advantage since I had a nice high line. I underestimated his speed a bit following him and gave him too much of a gap. When he e-braked on entry, it threw up a shower of sparks for some reason, and I kind of hesitated getting into the first turn. He had broken an axle/rear suspension in his top 16 battle, so I immediately thought something broke again. He also went pretty low on the bank, which was not the proper line, so I had to turn the car down to follow him after initially throwing the car high. Because of all that crap, there was a decent gap between us, and we ended up getting a one-more-time.

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He switched to brand new BFGs, but I had to save tires, so just dropped air pressure. The track seemed to lose a lot of grip because I couldn’t floor it at this point like I could earlier in the day, but I still had adequate grip. I did a real solid lead run, and he dropped low on the bank again. On my follow run, I really wanted to end it, so I was determined to follow him close. I came off the first bank right behind but his slowness at that point caught me off, and I had a correction to avoid hitting the clipping point on the straight. I was pissed and stupidly charged in at full speed on the exit of the second bank. I ended up locking the brakes to keep from hitting him and straightened. I was almost sure he had the win at this point. But we got a OMT I guess since his line was not what the judges were looking for or maybe they felt he was slowing down excessively.

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He put on new tires again, and I was still on the same set of tires. I was seriously pissed at myself at this point for driving sloppy and having to do another OMT on these tires. Time to drive angry. Again, my lead run was good. On the follow run, I came off the first bank pretty close to him and just kept it floored even though he was going slow through there. I was probably a few inches away from his bumper on that transition. He went really low on the bank, and I had to change my line to follow him. He got a bit of a gap. Then, for the last clipping point, I could see from where he transitioned that there was no way he was going to go around the cone. I wasn’t sure if I should follow him or try to take the right line around the clip. He ended up just plowing through the clip cone, and I slowed down to go around it, so he got some more gap. Anyway, I ended up getting the win. My lead runs were all good, but I had trouble following him because his driving was inconsistent and line was off.

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In top 4, I’d be going against Tanner. I’ve been telling him all year to come up to Canada, so it was good to see him doing well and to go against a Club Loose guy. We high-5′ed each other and said “let’s do this” simultaneously. Haha. I only had two sets of (very) used tires at this point and some 255-wide Nitto NT05s, which I had never run before. We decided to go with the NT05s, left the pressure a bit on the high side because I expected them to be super grippy. I did a donut as I went out on track to warm up the tires, and the car spun around super easily, so I was kind of worried we made a mistake with putting these tires on at the pressure we had them. My worries were confirmed because I was ice skating leading against Tanner. I came off the first bank slower than he expected, and he got all screwed up on the transition, so I had the advantage. The tires were seriously done at this point after just one run. He got a huge lead on me on the straight on my follow run because I spun the tires literally in all four gears. Somehow, I managed to catch him by the second bank and finish somewhere close to him. I ended up getting the win. So those Nittos were a bad idea. We should have tried them in practice and experimented with tire pressure, but we didn’t have time. It was at least nice to drive on tires that smoke a bit!

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So now I was against Briggs in the finals. This is when I needed the most grip, and all we had were some terrible NT05s with 25% tread left and some Federals with about the same tread. I told Kevin to drop the Nitto pressures really low. Then, after he was done, I decided to change to the Federals instead… haha. Having a crew guy is awesome. Thanks Kevin! I led Briggs first and surprisingly got a big gap on him. His car had a lot of grip, and they loosened it up earlier in the competition to go against the slower guys. They just left it like that for the finals. On my follow run, I had to make sure there was no OMT because we seriously had no more tires. I jumped the start and entered right on him. I came off the bank too low and ended up making the transition on the straightaway in the grass. Dave got a gap on me because grass has less traction than asphalt. (Also, sorry to all the people in the pits that I showered with crap!) I charged into the second bank really fast and closed the gap. The rest of the follow run was decent, and I was within a car length of him. I got the win! Then we sprayed some NOS champagne and had poutine at 4am. It was good!

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With the bad tire decisions and some sloppy driving, I was lucky to win. But after looking at the videos of everyone else’s runs, I feel like overall I was driving as good or better than anyone and made the fewest mistakes. All my lead runs were flawless too. I can’t thank Kevin enough this weekend. I literally didn’t have to do anything except drive and sit at driver’s meetings. It was awesome!

HTL ProAm Round 2 Recap

Category : Events

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Last weekend, I finally got a bit of a break from traveling and went drifting at Englishtown for HTL ProAm Round 2. We ran the back course, which is basically a right turn, going up over a hill blind, then a left sweeper, and slow right hairpin to finish off the course. The challenge here is extending your drift from the first right turn to the left sweeper without straightening since there is a long distance between the two turns. You’re also coming out of the first turn blind, so you have to know where to transition to be able to link the course without seeing the next turn.

I’ve driven this course before but never with this latest iteration of the car, so it took a few runs to get used to it. After trying to upshift to fourth gear going uphill after the first turn and flying halfway off the track, I decided to keep it in third since the track was too slow to be in the powerband in fourth. I was comfortable with the track after a few more runs. We had the normal qualifying session with two runs. I took it easy on the first run and put up a score. My second run was feeling pretty good, but I overshot the last turn and hit some cones and crap with the back of the car. That was probably a zero. Federals don’t really smoke unless you melt them, so I’m always trying to stand on the throttle for as long as I can before braking for turns to get the tires to smoke. Unfortunately, I stood on it too long and couldn’t slow down enough. So qualifying didn’t go so great, and I ended up in 12th place.

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I underestimated the competition for this event, and decided to just bring a bunch of crap used tires and give the car a lot more toe-in to compensate. The competition ended up being really good/fast, so I thought I might be screwed. In top 16, I went against Lee Alexander with a KA-T S14. He’s a great driver in tandem, and he “brought it” for this competition. We had pretty identical runs and got a OMT after the first set. He was initiating slower than me, so it was tough to enter close to him and still keep enough speed so as not to straighten out. The retarded amount of toe-in was also probably making it more difficult to keep from straightening off throttle. On the OMT follow run, he got a bit of a gap on me coming over the hill after the first turn, but I got right on his door going into the left sweeper, and stayed right on him the rest of the way. My tires were pretty much toast at this point after 3 consecutive runs, and I had no grip to pull away from him on my lead run, so he was on my door also. We got a second OMT! I followed him as aggressively as I could this time and got even closer. There wasn’t much else I could do but hit him. I was expecting him to follow me just as close, and we would just keep getting OMTs until one of us made a mistake or our engines blew up. He ended up making a mistake following me though, and I got the win.

There wasn’t much time to change tires, and I didn’t have any better tires mounted anyway, so I was worried for top 8. I went up against Landers next. I remember right before I got in my car, I checked the tires, and they were still smoking from top 16. Landers was having some issues with his car running out of fuel. I followed him first, entered close to him, and was closing in coming out of the first turn over the hill. He must have lost power because he straightened coming over the hill. I just missed his back bumper and threw the car inside of him with more angle to slow down and keep from hitting him. He kicked it back out again, and I held a major e-brake extendo to make it to the next left turn. We got there at about the same time, and I stayed close to him for the rest of the course. He may have also had problems when following me because I got a gap on him and got the win.

In top 4, I went against Nick. Brad Carlton told me not to get caught up on the entry because Nick was pacing himself. But when I followed him, he took off and entered super fast… haha. Unfortunately, he entered a bit too fast and ended up spinning out in front of me. I did a safe lead run and got the win.

In the final, I went against Tanner. I thought I was really done at this point since I now had 10 runs on these crappy used tires, and they weren’t doing much of anything. Tanner was on RT615s… lol. I led first and entered right behind him. I remember it being a pretty sweet entry. He got maybe a car length gap on me coming over the hill, but I got on his door under braking going into the left sweeper. I had to stay on a bit of a shallower line, but I managed to follow him really well. On my lead run, I think I slowed down more than he was expecting because I wanted to get a late apex on the first turn to be able to get as much speed as possible going up the hill. Not sure if he had a correction or not, but I could see in the mirror at the end of the course that there was a bit of a gap between us anyway. We came back to the start line, and I got the win!

Some videos from the event: