Victories don’t come all that often in motorsports and when they do (at any level) they sure are sweet. This past weekend at Summit Point, West Virginia, Doug and his D’Vanz Motorsports crew did everything right and not only did they qualify in the #1 position but they went on to win Round-3 of the Extreme Drift Championships.
For those who may not be familiar, the XDC series is a new 6-round national drifting championship set up to be a kind of “feeder series” to the Formula Drift Championship that DVM has competed in most recently. The teams and drivers compete at tracks similar to FD circuits with similar rules and judged scoring system. Many of the elements are the same; 3-judges scoring a drivers Line, Angle & Speed, both high and low speed corners (at Summit Point the entry speeds exceeded 80mph into the 90-degree turn-1), even the charismatic and entertaining announcer Jarod DeAnda was in attendance making the calls just as he does at all the Formula D events.
HyperFest 2004 This event also known as HyperFest was a bit of a homecoming for Doug and his Mustang for it was at this event some 6 years ago that these two got together for the first time to try out the then new sport or drifting. “I always like coming to this event,” Doug said. “Chris Cobetto of NASA and all the “LookOut” guys put on such a fun and smoothly run event, I have a great time every time I get up here. Not to mention, the Summit Point track is really fun to drive on and the crowd is always very responsive. This is the track I first attempted to “drift” at and it will always hold sentimental value with me.” DV went on to say.
On Friday, practice and qualifying were all in one day. Doug had laid down some really nice laps in final practice but wasn’t feeling too confident after he made his two laps for the record-books. “I really was happy with the car after practice, but I underestimated how much the track would tighten-up in the evening qualifying session,” Doug said later. Even though in his mind his laps weren’t as good as they could have been, the judges obviously disagreed with him as they awarded him an 86 out of 100 score which put the North Carolina driver at the top of the scoring sheet. Sometimes it’s good to not agree with the judges…
Saturday’s one and only practice session was the final chance for DV to work out the different lines and speeds he would need to use against the other drivers in the tandem-elimination rounds. During this day the D’Vanz crew also got a big help from their friends and fellow competitors at Gardella Racing who were kind enough to supply them with enough tires to finish the event. A big thanks goes out to them and congratulations for their 4th place finish.
In the XDC series, they only run eliminations for the Top-16 meaning since Doug qualified 1st, he would go up against the 16th driver, Ben Sarli in his BMW M3. Though Ben gave it everything his BMW had, DV was able to move past him into the Top-8. Next on line was Brian Peter in his LS-V8 powered RX7. Brian, like Doug, has competed in a few Formula D events over the years and has shown good skill with his new car. Doug made a good first pass while leading and was right with Brian on his “lead” lap so DV again advanced.
DV’s next challenger would be Chelsea DeNofa in his green Turbo’d BMW M3. Chelsea had proven to be a tough competitor with aggressive driving style and very good angle. With a quick conversation from his Spotter, Jason Heyden, DV knew he had to really run hard to put Chelsea away. On his first lead lap, Doug threw down a super clean line, hitting all of the “clipping points” with enough speed to pull away from the BMW just a bit. On the second lap Doug accomplished (as he put it) his best “follow” to date. The pair went into Turn-1 only a couple of feet apart and came out with less than a couple of inches in between. Throughout the run, there where times the two cars were so close that the crew gave the Mustang a good “looking-over” after the event searching for Chelsea’s green paint because everyone swore the two cars had touched at a couple of points. No marks were found but DV’s use of Chelsea as a “moving clipping point” was done with precision enough to advance him into the Finals.
By the time the Finals came around, DV was really in his rhythm and his Mustang was hit’n on all cylinders. Meeting DV in the final was New Jersey based driver Miro Ovcharik driving a multi-colored Nissan 240 with abundant power coming from another Chevy LS V8 motor. Miro was obviously also having a good day having made his way to the finals as well. DV and his crew agreed that the best plan was to attack at full speed on Doug’s lead lap and then evaluate and adjust for his follow based on Ovcharik’s speed.
On lap one, DV made his smoothest run of the day floating his Mustang right across every “clip” with pin-point accuracy and if that wasn’t enough coming into the last corner he threw his car into the corner so hard that the Mustang tail lights nearly passed the headlights. This “lead” was going to be a hard act for Ovcharik to follow but he was not going to give-up without a fight. As the two combatants pulled up to the starting line for the second pass Miro’s car suddenly shut-off. It re-fired briefly but then stalled once more. After a few more attempts it was over, Ovcharik’s car had suffered a mechanical failure that was too big to overcome and he was out… just like that… With DV then obliged to make one more pass to make it official he again laid-down a high-speed, Falken tire melting lap that turned out to be his own version of a “victory lap”…
“These are the days you dream about and that only come around once in a while”, Doug said afterwards. “The car ran flawlessly all weekend. Our Falken Tires delivered the exact performance that we were looking for and the crew made the right calls every time. By all accounts, it was a near perfect weekend. I really couldn’t have asked for anything more”, DV concluded.
In the “no rest for the weary” department this very next weekend Doug and his boys will be back in action, this time down in Jefferson Georgia at the newly remodeled Peach State Speedway now renamed Gresham Motorsports Park. The event will be a South East Drift Pro-Am that will reunite Doug with many of his old friends from the Atlanta area. The track lay-out is very similar to that of Irwindale Speedway out in California so it should be a lot of fun for teams and spectators alike. Check back with us next week for another post event report… Stay tuned…