Sunday, April 20, 2008

Long Beach Grand Prix

This weekend, I was given the opportunity to drive one of the pace cars for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. First of all, I want to thank Mr. Tanaka for even trusting me to drive for the grand prix. I had tons of fun!
There were 5 Toyota Camrys prepared for us, a Lexus IS350, GS350, and a Scion tC.
I drove the Camry first and noticed its spectacular cornering ability. It turned!!
I thought to myself, "Man, for a family car, this car hauls".

Then i tried the Lexus IS350. Ah...a Rear wheel drive.

I was told not to go drifting but a little tail slide wouldn't hurt right?
Well...I went a little over the edge and it hurt.

I came drifting through corner 6 and 7. At the entry of corner 8, I braked, causing a heavy oversteer and i tapped the tire wall. It wasn't a bad hit but the fact that i crashed a pace car wasn't good.

So i went back to the camry for the rest of the day and had more fun giving ride-alongs to the Grand Prix's VIP people.

Then came Saturday. I knew toyota wouldn't be too happy if i hopped into the IS350 again so this time, I went back to the Camry. During the vip ride along session, I was behind another pace car driving full speed through the front straight. In front of me was another pace car. As we were approaching the braking zone, I noticed his car was not slowing down. A fish tail happened following a crash full speed into the tire wall in the run off area. "WTF?" Brake Failure..

So he had a passenger and they were both confirmed to be ok.

What a scary experience.

We called it a day.

Today, instead of driving the Camry again, I wanted to try something new.
Ahhh...The GS350. Driving this car made me want one. So we did the pace car lap for the Champ Car Grand Prix and i was amazed. I wish drifting events would one day be like a Grand Prix event.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Formula D Long Beach


Must I say, this past weekend was hectic! But it was full of excitement and full of mixed emotions.

Let me give you the break down of what our team went through to make it through the event.

I was actually given the opportunity to test the car for the FIRST time 5 days before the competition. This is Monday. We take the car out for an initial shake down and many things go wrong. What can you say? It is the first step to driving a newly built drift car. I only had about 2 minutes of drifting time before we noticed that something with the rear end had gone out.

Wednesday, we decide to come back after Gary from Design Craft had fixed the problems. The RS-R tC was much better this time around. The car handles great at high speed drifts. One thing I noticed was the lack of power. Given the time we had until Thursday's load in, we decided to leave the car underpowered and bump up the rear tire pressure. So my rear tire size at this point was a 255/35-18 with 70psi. The Toyo R1R tires are extremely sticky even at the tire pressure. Man, I must say that they are the best drifting tires I have ever run.

Soon after getting accustomed to the car's seat position and the shifting, the turbo decides to loosen itself from the manifold. So we called it a day.

Friday, the first day of practice. At this point, I have had maybe around 30-40 minutes of driving time. So practice starts and after about 2 runs, my rear axles decide to give out. That was the end of my day. For the rest of the day, Gary worked on the axles, giving me time to watch the unseeded drivers qualify and the rest of the seeded drivers practice.
My weekend was starting to look terrible. We had the president of Scion coming out to watch the event the following day with many other representatives from Scion and our car is still trying to piece itself together.

I prayed that the car would atleast make it to the 4pm practice at the end of the day. Gary, Len, and Koji-San were all working hard to get the car running while the rest of the team nearly experienced a breakdown. I honestly saw the worst of my Formula D experience coming together. The 4pm practice ended and our car was still on jacks.

Saturday, Gary managed to find a way to fix the axle problem by working some of his magic welding skills. By the time the car was on the ground, it was already 50 minutes into the our 90minute practice session. I had 40 minutes to get the car dialed in and start attacking the course. We changed the rear tire size to a 245 to save the axles. My practice runs were very sloppy. I was too far away from the outer clipping points and my speeds were low. On top of that, I had no tire smoke and shallow angle. But it was enough to get myself dialed in to the car.

Qualify. I was not expecting to score any higher than 20th place. Since my radio was not working, I was not able to get the scores until the session was over. On my first run, I managed to hit the outer clipping points and carry a little more speed than my practice runs. I thought to myself, "hmm, that was a decent run. I didnt make any mistakes."
On my second qualify run, as soon as i exit corner 9 completely sideways, the engine decides to give out as it felt like the car was choking for fuel. I knew i didnt score for that run.
As i was driving back to the pits, I noticed my team looking very happy. Well, it turns out that i qualified 10th and made it to the top 16 eliminations. WOooHOO!.
Not bad for a start eh? I was relieved knowing that was would be seeded going into Round 2.

Once the top 16 eliminations took off, I felt that all of Gary and the RS-R team's hard work paid off. My parents were there to support me all weekend and they looked happy as well. Even though I lost to Haruguchi in the first round of the top 16, this was a big step for us as a team. We have a lot more confidence in the car going into Atlanta.

Many thanks to those who came by the Toyo Tires booth to check out the car.
Thanks to all the Rogue Status guys for hooking it up with the sickest clothes on the track.
Also, Thanks to Scion for making it out to the event.

See you all in Atlanta!