After all the long days and nights… and days and nights, the new parts assembled and more weeks of building new parts than I would ever have imagined, we finally got to get our DVM Mustang back into completion. The 2016 Formula Drift Pro2 schedule of Road Atlanta, Orlando, Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway finally got underway on May 5th in Braselton, GA.
I guess I’ll have to wait another year before I get to go into a season as fully prepared as I’d like to be, as I suppose we all have a dream…. I really thought we’d be 100% ready to go but there just never seems to be enough time to get everything tested and buttoned up. Well we might not have been ready but the season was starting and it was “time to go”, so off to Atlanta we went with all of our new ideas and “hope these work” new parts.
We made it through our annual Tech Inspection pretty clean and looked forward to practice to begin. 26 cars entered the Pro2 category in hopes of making the 16-car field. Knowing the track gave me piece of mind so I felt pretty relaxed all things considered. With so much of the car being completely new we really didn’t know what to expect as I ran the car down the hill into our Turn-1 for the first time. Steven and Adam of 42 Autosports were with us to make sure the engine ran strong and it felt great all weekend long. Wes Burton Performance was on hand to help out with chassis tuning and crewman Adam Guenther was helping to kept things heading in the right direction.
Getting things sorted out and some rain caused us to only get a few laps during the first two practice sessions and only one of our two Qualifying runs was good enough to put points up on the board. Thankfully we managed to lock into the 7th starting position so our 2nd hurdle of the weekend was behind us.
We spent all of Friday morning making test-hits with our nitrous system. Steven and Adam did an amazing job tuning it there on the fly and we it was such a major relief to have them with us. Besides being super great guys, I have 100% confidence in their understanding of what I need the engine to do and them being a part of our team this year has taken a massive load off of my mind.
For our final practice session we tried making up for lost time in running as many laps on the car as I could do, the two Adams kept up with the fuel and tires, Steven was all over the Motec system making sure the engine was happy and Wes was up in the Spotters tower helping me with car-placement on the track. We got better and better as the session went on but then during the last two runs we developed some clutch issues (due we suspect to air in the lines) that caused me to spin and get stalled out on coarse.
With only 15-mins from the end of final practice to the event’s opening ceremonies, the guys got to work on the car to see if we could continue at all. Unfortunately, this meant me once again going up to Driver Introductions in front of the crowd without a car. The great news is by the time I got back to the Hot Grid, the guys had unjammed the clutch and we were back in business.
By qualifying 7th I was pared up with Florida driver Kevin Lawrence who had qualified 10th. With some fine-tuning still left to do, I was struggling with some serious turbo-lag and on my lead run, it bit me pretty hard nearly straightening out the car as I transitioned through turn-2 going up the hill. Then all of a sudden, the Comp turbo’s came on like a rocket and the car ripped up the hill. Seeing this, Kevin climbed on his throttle to run with me. With all this extra speed I leaned on the brakes to keep the car on the road but I inadvertently over slowed a bit and Kevin ran into the back of my car. Doing little damaged, we both attempted to continue but thanks to our not-so-happy gear-shifter I wasn’t able to take back off as fast as I wanted to or as Kevin thought I was and when he “dropped the hammer” on his car, his left-rear wheel slammed into the RR corner of my car. The result of the 2nd hit was a hole in my bumper cover and a complete failure of his LR suspension. I finished off the run and headed back to the starting area where I waited for a ruling from the judges who after watching the replay-video numerous times faulted me for the first collision and Lawrence for the second, this meant we both were given a few minutes to get our cars back to the line and run our second-lap. Unfortunately for Lawrence, his car was too badly damaged and I ran the next pass without him ultimately giving me the win and I was on to the next round. Not the way you’d like to win and I hated it for him to be knocked out this way. He’s a great competitor and I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun this season battling it out in rounds to come.
In the Top-8 I was pared up against Ryan Litteral. On the first pass, I followed him but I didn’t stay as close as I needed to and got a bit lost in his tire smoke. On my Lead run, I guess he did a better job than I did (though I’ve not been able to find any video of the run) and so the judges awarded him the win. So just that fast, our weekend was over but considering it was the car’s first real-test, I can’t help to be pleased with our results. In the end, once the competition sorted itself out, we were awarded 6th place in the final standings and we rolled the car in the trailer with all of its fenders still attached. Not too bad for our first event in 2-years…
So next stop will be HyperFest at VIR in a couple of weeks for some testing and working more rust off of my “drifting muscles”. I love the Patriot track at Virginia International and am really looking forward to running a lot of laps on a track that I know so well.
So until next time, please keep an eye on my Facebook page for more video’s and we’ll let you know how it all shakes-out in Virginia…