I’m amazed at what my life has turned into since I first started this journal… My life has been so hectic this year, that I can barely have a weekend to just relax and do nothing. It’s been so bad, that I never update this journal until there’s a big event or something, and even that is when I have some time to breathe! I’ve been reminiscing of the “good ol’ days” back when I would write about nothing… just a thought I would have at the time, or about spending a day with the friends doing silly things. Life has changed a lot, and so has the American drifting scene. I’ve been thinking a lot about things lately, and as soon as I finish these crazy event updates, I’ll be sure to do a better job of speaking my mind even if it’s not an event recap!

Here’s my recap of D1 Driver Search at California Speedway, 2004:
Getting ready for the D1 Driver Search was kind of strange to me… Because I’m one of the KAAZ drivers now, I didn’t have to prep the car. All I had to do was prep myself the day before (i.e. – get enough sleep, eat well, drink enough water, etc.) For some reason though, I was really relaxed as if I had no driving event the next day. I’m not sure if it was because the event was at California Speedway and I didn’t care what kind of course they’d throw at me, or maybe I was kind of skeptical of participating in D1 with all of it’s politics, or maybe it was because prepping a car the night before was more stressful to me than I thought. Maybe it was all of the above. Anyway, I showed up to the event and met up with KAAZ. It was cool seeing Barry again… that guy goes through so much to get over here for all these events. I don’t know how he does it! So all the drivers went through the normal procedures… getting the cars tech inspected, unloading the cars, getting everything ready. Keiichi was there, so was Nomuken, Daijiro Inada, Kumakubo, Tanaka, and Chunky Bai. I watched Keiichi and Nomuken set up the course… it was interesting. They would walk the course and then move a cone here or there and when they were finished, they jumped into Bai’s car and did some slow laps in it, with Keiichi in the driver seat. The interesting thing about it was that he wasn’t going very fast… and would initiate late into the corner. I wondered if it’s because he doesn’t need to go fast to figure out if the course is good, or if it was other reasons? Maybe it was because it wasn’t his car and he would put it at risk by drifting it at higher speeds? Well, the course design made everybody mad pretty quickly. It was narrow, and had a long straight into a right hand reducing radius corner, with a chicane at the end of it. At the end of the long straight, there was a plastic barrier filled with water on the left hand side at the entry point was, and the judges table was straight ahead… with concrete barriers in front of it. Looking to the right of the judges table was a nice big light pole with concrete barriers in front of it as well. I knew the barriers would present a problem for a lot of the drivers that day, mostly because the range of experience in the people driving were from beginner to advanced. To make matters worse, they designed the course so that there were huge bumps on the ground right at where the initiation point should be on the first straight. Out of all the places to put the course, they put it THERE. Most of us reacted in the same way… that D1 wanted to see some crashes today, and it would be us.

I was to trying a new setup on the car that day, because I wanted to experiment with more grip on the car. That day, we used 225 Yokohama ES100s in the front and 245 Yokohama ES100s in the rear. The tires were too grippy for the power of the car… It was almost like I had to stay full throttle all the time or else the car would stop drifting… What a time to be testing a new setup! We had about 5 laps as our practice session… The first couple of laps I screwed up. One problem was that the car wasn’t running very smoothly… and whenever I got back onto the gas after letting off, the car would hesitate… and then a split second later the rpms would start moving again… it was frustrating, and I had to learn to try and guess when I’d need the throttle a split second before I actually needed it… and hope that when I got back on the gas, I would actually need it. The next 3 laps were better, but still needed some work… the bumps didn’t seem to bother me, but according to Alex Pfeiffer, my speed and line were good, but I wasn’t coming in with enough angle into the first corner. That was great advice, because I was thinking about so many things that I didn’t notice. I was thinking about what to do during my break time… because the next round was already the qualifying round. If I initiated BEFORE the bumps, I would be able to get more angle. Another thing that helped out a lot was that Keiichi clarified what he wanted for the line… in the morning, he said out out out out, in. To me, that means you stay outside all the way around the corner until you get to the apex! Of course, it seemed very strange to me, because when I originally walked the course, I thought to myself… this is a double apex… it goes out in out in. I was trying to use Keiichi’s line during practice and it just wasn’t working for me… Before our qualifying lap, he said something about a double apex and it clicked… I was practicing the wrong line. I thought about that as well as my initiation point during my quick break. It was a lot of changes to be making for a qualifying round… Usually I would stick to whatever I was practicing, because it’s usually a bad idea to be trying new things during qualifying. I didn’t want to go home unsatisfied, so I did what I thought I should do… take the correct line and come into the corner with good angle… even if it meant making last minute changes to my attack. I guess at this point, it was about self satisfaction instead of satisfying the judges.

So qualifying started… MULTIPLE cars crashed… at least 4, maybe 5. My first run was my practice run, and I let off throttle too much and the fat tires in the back took over and I lost too much momentum… I had to use my ebrake to make it to the apex okay. On my first qualifying run, I did better, but I for some reason, I spun at the very last (easiest) corner. I don’t know why I do that… And on the last qualifying run, I entered at a good speed, initiated early, extended the drift a little bit into the first apex, downshifted to 2nd, and carried it through the rest of the corner… kicking the clutch when I started to lose some speed. My line was exactly where I wanted it to be… the only problem was that I was steering too much with the steering wheel instead of using the throttle to steer the car. This is a problem I’ve noticed a lot with other drivers, and now I find myself doing it every once in a while too… I just have to stop myself before I do it and stomp my foot down on the throttle instead.

Anyway, they called the drivers meeting and announced the top 11… I was suprised to hear that I made it! That was a pretty big accomplishment… since it was out of 83 drivers. To our suprise, we found out that we had to go out again and go through another elimination round! We went out again… and I got it pretty good. We came back to another drivers meeting, and I found out I made the cut again to get to the top 8! But ack… another elimination round. I went out again… and totally repeated my runs over again… it was weird… like a carbon copy of the round before. Feint away from the corner… kick the clutch and start sliding out towards the wall, over the bumps… towards the first apex… lock the rear brakes for a quick second to maintain the line… drop back to 2nd gear and floor it EARLY to compensate for the weird hesitation… continue flooring all the way around and as I approach the 2nd apex, use the brakes and tighten up the line… and get back on the gas to go through the last chicane. Anyway, I was RELIEVED to
find out that this was the last round. I made the top and final 5… I got my D1 competitors license. And I got it the right way too… I know that D1 is a little sketchy when it comes to the way they run things… and originally they wanted me to just be qualified for the D1 competition without qualifying the right way. I told them “no thanks”… and that I would qualify along with everybody else. Well now I have it, and it feels good to earn it. And I’m going back to 215s and 235s haha! Marc just told me that the DVD just came out… Man… they can make a DVD faster than I can write a journal entry. Sorry!