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Browsing Posts tagged formula d

I randomly found this blog post on dated September 27, 2009 right before the recent Irwindale event.  I guess there is somebody else out there that thinks about the first years of Formula D.

yellow thing irwindale 2005

This car was really really cool. So simple in certain ways and very innovative in others.


courtesy of

Dynamic Autosports announced this week at SEMA that they’ll be campaigning a drift tuned Nissan GT-R for the 2010 season of Formula D.

[I will pause so that you can unwrinkle your face enough to finish reading my post.]

You may be familiar with Blitz’s announcement last year at Tokyo Auto Salon that they would build a drift GT-R for Nomuken to drive in Japan’s D1 Grand Prix, but I didn’t think it would happen.  Not that Blitz isn’t capable – I just didn’t think it made any sense.  Now Dynamic Autosports is making this same announcement and I have the same feeling of disbelief.

Does it really make any sense to take a car that’s known for it’s technological wonder and dumb it down for drifting?  When they remove all of the technology that makes the car what it is so that it will drift, what does it end up being – other than a really expensive, rare and overweight chassis with a cool engine?

I want to know how it would feel as a tuner to remove that cool rear transaxle and throw it in the trash because paddle shifters and automatic just don’t work for a competitive drift car.  Would I think that I’m actually making the car “better” or do I realize that I’m committing car tuning sin?  When the car is all done and finished, what would be faster around the track – a stock GT-R, or this “tuned” GT-R?

Don’t get me wrong – I am a big Robbie Nishida fan.  I think he’s a great driver… I like his attitude and I like that I’ve seen him drifting as part of team Hey Man! at touge like 10 years ago in an Option video.  I also have a lot of respect for Eddie and Dynamic Autosports.  I remember them from back when they were supporting Ben Schwartz with their SR20DET bored out to 2.4L (way cool) and they were also one of the first in Formula D to use a sequential dog mission (way cool) that everybody uses now.  I have nothing against any of them.  I just have a really hard time wrapping my brain around this one.

Did I forget to say that I’m competing in the final round of Formula D? Oops! Well I am. Yellow Thing is back… the cage has a new forward section now, we’re using a new tire setup, the LSD was pulled apart and made a little more like a 1.5 way, and there’s a new final gear in the car to make shifting a little more work, but easier to stay in the power band. It’s funny… the car seems a lot crazier than it is. Chris and Tony came by to look at the car on Sunday and they couldn’t believe that it still has all of the sound deadening material. Yeah, the cage is bolt in, the doors still have all of the orignal insides… the chassis is totally untouched. It’s not seam welded anywhere on the car. It’s pretty much a street car! But that means it’s heavy :( But I guess I like it that way… it kind of represents me as a driver. The underdog.

Last Sunday I took the car out for a practice at Irwindale Speedway hosted by Drift Buffet. Haha, I know, huh? I haven’t driven the car since last January or February I think, and I haven’t competed since before that… needless to say it’s been a long time, and I’m really excited to get involved again.

For me, it’s just to have a blast driving with my friends again, but man… I’d love it if I could totally do good. It’s up to me I guess. Everybody has been driving their cars getting used to them all year in competition mode. On top of that, they have gotten noticeably faster and better at tandem. I’ve… driven my 215hp sileighty at Just Drift and Drit Day? Hahaha. Big difference.

At least last Sunday gave me a chance to get a feel for the car again. The good thing is that I know what I have to do, and I wasn’t scared at the pace I was going. That means I can go A LOT faster and a lot crazier.

We have another practice session this Thursday and then I have prequalifying on Friday along with all of the other non-seeded drivers. I have a good feeling about making it to Saturday’s big event. Let’s see how far I can get!

I can’t wait!

Last weekend was a lot of fun @ Sonoma. I know I didn’t get to drive, but it was quite an experience being there as a supportive role instead of a driving role. Now that it’s all over, I’m so glad I was there for Nadine. It was her first major competition, and she totally needed my emotional support as well as coaching. I remembered the times when I felt like I needed help with the course, advice on what I was doing wrong, and just to hear “don’t worry, you’re doing good.” I was able to give that to Nadine, and I was glad. She did well… for a mid to high 3rd gear course designed to go straight into the judging booth k-rails, and having only 3 practice runs, I thought she did pretty good.

During practice she was trying to go too fast… combine that with her nervousness, the pressure, the fact that she tapped the wall during practice, and you can understand how she was feeling. I told her to take a deep breath and relax. Tone down her approach and forget about all the pressures. She did end up toning down her approach a lot, and she was able to pull it off.

In the end, I’m proud of her for standing up to the challenge of competing in a professional drifting series up against people who have been doing it for many years longer than her. And I’m proud of her for breaking through the mental wall she had in front of her, and actually initiating, following through, and finishing the course at least once.

It was nice being able to sit around and looking at everybody thinking about everything too much, trying too hard, and making it totally harder on themselves then it had to be. I’m going to take my experience with me to my next competition… it will be nice to compete again knowing what attitude I should have in order to drive my best.

Okay, so here’s the continuation from the Sonoma event…

There’s this feeling I get… when I see a course or walk it, I come up with a plan of attack. This includes line, speed, angle, initiation points, etc… this is the plan of attack that, if I could pull it off like how I imagine, would make me happy, and should also qualify me at the same time. During my qualifying lap, I got pretty close… because when I finished, it felt really good to me. I was happy. At the next drivers meeting, they announced me as a qualified driver in the Top 16 round. I think I placed #13… I was confused, because, by the way it felt, I thought I would qualify a lot higher. I found out later that it was because my feint had too much angle. If I wanted to do it better, I should use less angle on the first feint.

So that was it… I was up against Ken Gushi. On one hand, I was happy… because it meant that I could drive hard… I love driving with Ken. He’s easy to read and I can trust him. And if I lost to anybody, I’d love to lose to Ken. ANYWAY, we go out, and he leads… damn, his car is fast! He gets away from me, and his entry was way different than mine. Instead of feinting, he went straight into the corner. I, not being very experienced in competitive tandem, followed him when I should have stuck to what I knew… and I spun and went off course. Ken’s advantage. Next lap, I lead. I ditched my idea of going straight into the corner, and stuck with what I knew. I feinted. This, however, threw Ken off, and botched up his entry into turn 1. My advantage. We had to do it “one more time”… Ken lead, and I did okay following him… man… he was driving fast! I made some mistakes and I was falling behind… We went into the last left hand sweeper together, and I was coming in really hot… going towards the wall… going too fast… Ken kissed the wall with his rear bumper. I let off the throttle and I was coming in for the wall too… I got pretty close, but I missed it. After getting closer to Ken’s car, I realized that he ricocheted off the wall and hit his front end too. He busted his oil cooler and was leaking all over the place… Well, after trying to figure it out, we realized he couldn’t drive his car… so Rotora brought out Ernie’s car for him to drive. Ken seemed pretty upset… I think because of what he did to his car. Well, we went out again, this time I was leading… Ken messed up on his entry into turn 1… but as I exited and went into turn 2, Ernie’s car and its massive amounts of grip totally took over… and slung shot ken right towards me and my door. It was amazing… however, I guess because of Ken’s mistake, they gave the round to me. Next round was me against Calvin. On the first run, Calvin was having problems entering into turn 1… it looked like he or the car was hesitating to stay sideways. Anyway, he spun into turn 1, and if I was in the right mindset (like I should have been), I would have seen the opportunity to pass him on the inside. Instead, I let off the accelerator and let him get back on his course and I followed him into turn 2. It seemed like it was nobody’s advantage there. 2nd run comes, and I’m leading. I went too wide going into turn 1 and Calvin started to come in on the inside… before I knew it, Calvin was too close to me and was trying to get inside at the corner… I needed to transition to the left for the next corner… If I continued on my line, it could have meant a crash… Calvin would have been where he shouldn’t have been and I would have hit his front end with my rear end… or I could have just assumed he would get out of my way and I could just keep going anyways. It didn’t matter… my initial instincts were to avoid the accident, and instead of maintaining my line and my drift, I straightened out and got out of his way. It was my biggest mistake of the day… But it’s another hard lesson learned… I won’t do it again. Calvin took the win from that round. And now, here’s the videos!

Practice Run
Qualifying Run

Hey guys, sorry for the really late update. Life is so busy!

A quick recap of Drift Association’s second annual drifting competition (I think they called it DC 2). The Formula D competitors weren’t allowed to compete, so that we could make this more of a beginner style competition… but the cool thing was, we were allowed to judge! This was an AWESOME experience, because it really gave me some great insight on competition. All of the judges had to pair up with another judge so that we can save time on vote totalling at the end of each round. I paired up with Ken Gushi, and that was pretty cool because for the most part, we were scoring the same amount of points for each person anyways. In the beginning Ken and I had to decide how to judge… should we judge relative to the skill level in the competitors that day, or should we judge as the D1 judges would judge us in Formula D or D1? Ken and I thought it would be good for the competitors if we judged them the way we were judged. 0 to 5 points… 5 being a pro level run and 0 if there is a spin. The most consistent guys out there were the ones that ended up placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. These guys ALL scored 4s all the way across our scoring sheets throughout the day. Hiro secured his 1st place position in the final round, when he drove his heart out on one of his runs… Ken and I scored him a 5. Quoc and Alex were both ultra consistent and scored 4s on their final runs. They placed 2nd and 3rd.

The day was long but I had so much fun. It was also my first day to drive the KAAZ car. It wasn’t yet tuned, and there wasn’t an alignment on the car, so instead of learning how to drive the car, I was pretty much just making sure that nothing would break when I drove it for Formula D.

Anyway, Sonoma for Formula D Round 3 was pretty interesting. It was the first time I’ve ever competed along side my friend Barry Wong… my new teammate for Team KAAZ! This was our first competition as Team KAAZ, and I think that we figured out a lot of things… like what it takes to support a 2 car/driver team, and that teamwork does wonders. Before the competition, the car was tuned. We had so many problems tuning the car because the car kept overheating… It has a bad radiator setup. So the tuner had to keep letting the car cool down before he could continue tuning. Anyway, in the end, he didn’t have enough time to finish the tuning because of the overheating problem. So the map wasn’t perfect… but it was good enough to run. The car makes 270 horsepower to the wheels at 1.2 bar of boost, but doesn’t start making power until 4300 rpms. Eeek! I’ve never driven a car like that before (except for JDM Rice 1). I didn’t know how I would do in the competition while trying to figure out the new car.

On Saturday, we had a couple hours of practice time on the track. I had a lot of car problems… the intercooler piping busting off, the car overheating… and one of my biggest fears – the course was wack. AND it had a high speed 3rd gear entry into turn 1 with a very low speed exit. The huge boost lag in the car would really challenge me at that corner. Practice session started and I was all over the place… going off course, spinning, putting the car where it shouldn’t have been… It’s really strange what a competition will do to you. All day we were pairing up with whoever we happened to be next to in line… sometimes the person in front of you spun, and you got a screwed up practice run, or sometimes you spun, and you screwed it up for the person following. All day I kept messing up… I couldn’t get the first corner right! I think it might have been the pressure combined with the high speed entry of that first corner. Towards the end of the day, Barry and I talked and started giving each other advice, when we realized that we both see things the same way. So we started doing our practice runs with each other only. You have no idea how much it helped!!! Barry would give me advice when he was following me, and I gave him advice when I was following him… it was awesome, and we started to get it… and we started to pull off successful runs at the end of the day. This was so important, because once we were able to finish the course without spinning out, we were able to focus on certain parts of the run and clean them up for the competition the next day. Our method of attack was doing a feint… drifting away from the corner and then transitioning our drift into the corner… This is always hard for me, I don’t know why… but I was getting consistent, and as I transitioned into the corner, I was practicing using the entire track… and getting up close to the cones and dirt area.

Sunday came around, and I was pretty happy… Saturday I was worrying that I wouldn’t have the course figured out by competition time, but because of Barry’s help, I knew I wasn’t THAT far off. Practice began and I started to get comfortable with my speed and initiation… so I tried to go faster and earlier. Qualifying session rolls around and Utsumi does some demo runs to show us what he’s looking for. Utsumi has a really unique style… He has great control of the car and can go into the corner with very low angle and very high speeds. For some reason though, I disagree with the line that he takes and suggests at every event. Anyway, that is something I’ve been struggling with for the past year or so and can have it’s own journal entry. Anyway, we start our practice runs… I said to myself… okay… I’m going to try something new (a stupid thing to do on a qualifying run) and initiate EARLIER… First run, I initiated early, and it felt pretty good. It felt like I was driving at 70%… That was the practice run, and I felt confident… next run, it was on, and I decided to drive closer to like 85%. I initiated even earlier and I decided to get close to the tire barrier at my initiation point for style points… I got pretty danged close… as I got near I said to myself “oooh, this is going to be a close one…” I made it past the barrier and came in towards the first corner, except this time I got back onto the throttle a lot earlier… I came around approaching turn 2… and I decided to clean up my line… I used the throttle to tighten it up at the last minute to make a nice late apex, sending me out along the wall, just like I would while grip driving (I still think that racing line is the proper drifting line). It felt really good and I thought I would do pretty well in the qualifications.

Okay… this took me long enough to write… I’ll finish up the story next week, along with videos and some details from last weekend’s D1 Grand Prix US drivers search.