Prelude to this article can be found here: Formula Drift, Irwindale California
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Well, my first experience at a pro drift event is over. It’s certainly not my last though.It’s gonna be a wild 2012 I imagine.
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I’ve spent a few days here in California and I’m taking a lot of info back to Canada with me. I must admit though, it was kind of a strange center I was in. I was present, not working in the pits, not working on a car, not there “as a fan” in attendance, but as a student…on the stepping stone to being a pro formula drift mechanic. My years of racing, wrenching and watching cars fly around a track, none of em has been like this. Drifting has so many variables not present in other forms of auto-sport that it’s a challenge just to keep record. You can see bits’n'pieces but in general, it defies everything that I’ve built for other teams, my teams and the weekend hobbyist.
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We build drag cars to squat and go straight, lapping cars to hug curves and rally cars to take a beating. Drifting, doesn’t do any of this, but kinda does all of that…surrounded by smoke, another car tapping your door and a judge panel to impress. It’s almost like it’s the “grey area” of racing.
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Some of these guys sure got it down though. Factory backed and corporate sponsorships pepper the pit area and as we’ve seen for example, the Falken green’n'teal are quite the force to be reckoned with.
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Us privateer’s, it’s going to be uphill for sure, we expect that though and we’re ok with it, just gotta keep doing what we do and never give up.
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Although it’s slightly intimidating watching these mutli-crew teams with the big race trailers and tools abound pull in and setup, we understand that we have to start somewhere…and somewhere starts in 2012. We’re gonna work hard this winter and prepare for the worst.
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On race day, there was 25,000 people at the track, thousands more watching on TV and the FD web cast…for a competition this size, the eyeball reach is huge. And it’s only growing. The fan base is only second to Nascar and when they’re stomping their feet in the stands screaming “ONE MORE TIME!!!” it takes a minute to realize that they be yelling that about us next year.
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This particular race, being the finals, the best of the best came out to play. The championship was on the line and the teams were ready. This was good for me since I could watch the crews prepare, setup, pit and race. Learned a lot about suspension, transmission and the general play by plays that happen during an event. There is so much that goes on that my head is spinning with visions of race fuel, adjustable control arms and tire pressure.
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What I was really glad to learn, was what we think we need for next year as far as supplies, tools and equipment. I’m confident in the car and I will give Mats a good one, but it takes more than that. It’s rough out there and stuff is gonna break. I’m the one who has to fix it in 5 minutes so like jolly ol’ St Nick…I’m making a list and checking it 2wice.
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Once they were on their way to the top 4, I really started paying attention to the judges. Soaked in what they were looking for from the lead driver and chase car. This is more Mats area, but by knowing what they want, will help me set up the car to make it do what he wants it to. A big team effort comes into play no doubt. I’m already pretty good at reading Mats’ mind and we connect on a solid Driver–>Crew Chief level so we’re one step ahead already.
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As far as crews and drivers go, I’m closer with Mats than I have ever been with a driver I’ve worked for. We know each others habits, likes, dislikes, pet peeves and annoyances. He knows that I need at least 1 and 1/4 coffee in the morning before he bugs me, and I know he has an over-active digestive system if he drinks too much orange juice. Seriously.
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These little things coupled with our determination will take us where we need to go. None of us is as smart as all of us and like Henry Ford said – “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
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With all that said, I’m really glad I stuck around California for a couple more days. I know if I would have headed right back to the shop I would’ve just worked, but a couple days to tool around this awesome state, I can start to put things into perspective. When I need to think, organize and work out things in my head…I drive around. And this is what I’ve been doing. Driving. Hit up Long Beach yesterday, checked out the ocean, had some drinks and dinner at a great local brewery and relaxed while taking things in. With the racing scene being as potent as it is here, the sites are just as good and I’m glad I had a chance to check it all out. I got one more day here and I’m a make the best of it and it’s time to get to work as soon as I get back.
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Stick with us folks, we’re headed to the top and we’re putting the right bricks in place. We’re doing our homework and learning. We’re gonna rock the tracks next year and I’m thankful to have all of you aboard.
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But as for now like Erin said…”Take notes, Take names, and next year…TAKE EM OUT!
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Oct 10th by Bannon



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