As the 2011 Summer heated up in the South, DVM’s drifting schedule was burning-hot with 3-competitions in only 6 weeks. Luckily for the team, all of the events were in their home city of Charlotte, NC so travel time was at a minimum.
On July 2 the Xtreme Drift Circuit rolled into the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the first time. The track at CMS is a bit on the tricky side with a long gap between turns 1 & 2 and then some tight 90 & 180 degree turns that follow. “It’s great to have so many events at home this season. It’s given us an opportunity to have a lot of friends at the track that normally don’t get to see us live.” Doug Van Den Brink said.
After throwing his 1st qualifying lap away with a slight error, Doug managed to salvage a 9th place Q-spot. The team made even more chassis adjustments before the competition started but they were only able to slightly improve the car. “I’m not sure if it’s me today or that the car’s just not free-enough for this track.” DV said after his qualifying session…
Unfortunately, for our guys, Doug was knocked out in the Top-16 round after going up against Texan Nate Hamilton after a close battle that included a “one more time”. DV said after the event, “Naturally we’re disappointed not to have gone further in the comp. As a group, we just didn’t have it together today, not only did our rear suspension have too much bite but our turbo combination was way too lazy so we’ll go back home, evaluate the weekend and come back even stronger for the next round.”
7-days later our DVM crew was back in action just across the street from CMS at the “parking lot” track of zMax Dragway. During the week, they made a few changes to the turbo combination that they hoped would help the car pick-up speed a bit quicker. The course at zMax is known for being fast and a bit slippery. As with most cities in the South, temps during the event soared to well over 100-degrees putting DV’s Mustang in-car temps in the 140* range. “Yeah, it’s a bit warm out there.” Doug said. “But the car’s running well, our Falken tires are gripping as good, if not better than any tire out there and I’m feeling good.” Doug and his Mustang would eventually go on to qualify 3rd putting the team in good shape when time for the competition.
The available pavement and location of the only elevated observation area make this track a real challenge for the Judges, as Doug knows, himself having judged this very event last year. “While this track is cool in many ways, the rectangular shape of it combined with the Judges stand being all the way on one end make it really hard for them to see everything. From a competitor’s point of view, it can be very challenging to say the least. That’s the biggest “sticky part” of this sport. As a competitor, your fate is in the hands of others in many ways…”
Doug moved through the Top-16 round pretty easily and then struggled to get past Jason Jiovani thanks to some “very interesting” calls by the Judges. He then went up against Chris Ward in the Top-4 and somehow lost the round even though the Nissan driver used an inside-line to catch-up to Doug in the large “sweeper” down at the far end of the track away from the Judges eyes. Doug would then go up against Jodin Lejeune in the Consolation round. The Infinity driver was struggling to keep his car on line so DV easily moved past him to take 3rd-place overall honors for the event.
For their next event Doug and his boys were back over at CMS for the 4th round of the Formula D Pro-Am presented by Streetwise Drift. As customary in the South in the Summer time, the day was hot, crazy-humid and threatening rain most of the day. Recounting lessons learned earlier in the month, the DVM crew made more changes to their rear suspension making the car more predictable for DV to drive. “The car is definitely better than it was last time. It’s still a challenging track but I think I have a better handle on it this time around.” DV said after the 2nd practice session.
With a full tank of fuel and their tire pressures set, our boys set out for their 2-laps of qualifying. Doug’s first lap was really good, right up to the very last corner where he just ever-so-slightly overcooked the entry and brought the rear of his Mustang around a little too hard causing him to miss the last apex and effectively throwing away the lap… On his second pass, he entered the course a bit more conservatively making sure the car stayed inline and laid down a smooth lap that would insure they would make it into the show…
After all the other competitors made their runs, Doug would end up 2nd, securing him a very good chance in the competition. “I’m really happy with our qualifying result.” Van Den Brink said. “I really wanted that first lap but I just charged it a little too hard and it bit me. On the second lap I had to make dead-sure I got us in the show so I naturally dialed-it-back a notch and while it was good, it clearly wasn’t my best lap. That said, 2nd is great. I’m happy for the guys and I think we’re in really good shape as long as the rain holds off,” he continued.
As the start of the competition grew near, the afternoon skies grew darker and darker. The Top-16 competition had only just gotten started when the big, gray clouds opened up and the rain came down, in buckets, that is. With thunderbolts lighting-up the sky, all the teams huddled in the garages while series officials worked through “cancelation scenarios” that would be fair for everyone…
After an hour and a half of deluge the rains gave up and a drivers meeting was called to discuss the situation. It didn’t take long for the drivers to unanimously agree to get back out there and finish what they had started. After all, “who hasn’t drifted in the rain before?” as one driver put it.
As most any race-driver will tell you, a dry track is good… A wet track is good… But a track that is wet in some spots and then dry in others is anything but good. This opinion is especially true if they’re sitting in a turbocharged car. “I’ve always liked driving in the rain,” DV said “but this car likes constant load on the turbo and when the tires free-wheel in the water the boost spikes, then the power goes away. Which is fine until you hit a dry patch and you instantly need all the power to keep the tires spinning. It’s a throw, catch, stab the gas, almost spin, catch then stab again kind of deal that really keeps you on your toes.”
Doug got through the Top-16 ok though the track was giving him fits. In the Great-8 he went up against George Grob. The two drivers went toe-to-toe for 6-laps before DV was declared the winner. Next up was Chris Ward in his Chevy V8 powered Nissan s13. Again, the drivers were closely matched but in the end Chris’s normally-aspirated Chevy was more manageable than DV’s turbo Ford and Chris moved on to the Finals…
Doug and his Mustang were then placed in the Consolation round against Ryan Kaufman who is always tough in his Chevy V8 powered Mazda rx7. On their first lap Doug ran a nice wide line through T1. Ryan took a more inside line and found some dry pavement which gave him a huge drive up DV’s inside going into T2. Unfortunately, this put him in a really tight spot for as Doug closed in on the T2 apex, Ryan had nowhere to go and simply backed-out to wisely avoid contact with the red Mustang. This small mistake would prove to be Ryan’s undoing for on the 2nd lap while he led, he ran a nice clean line, followed closely by Doug, and the judges had no choice but to award DV the winner of that round and consequently 3rd place overall for the event…
Doug said after the event, “Without question, I’m very happy with 3rd place and very grateful to have won it. Add to that, it’s way-better than finishing 4th! But I can’t help but feel that this is “one that got away” from us. All the guys did an awesome job on the car. I’m really excited that Bobby and Ben from CIN came to give us a hand as it’s always great to have them around. I think we’ve got the car headed in the right direction as far as dry set up, so I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season,” he concluded.
Next up for our guys will be the famed Virginia International Raceway where the team has had a good amount of success over the years. That event, held on Sept. 10 will be the Formula D Pro-Am finals. DV is currently sitting in 4th place in the points (remember that the team missed the first round of this championship) and is only 62-pts out of the lead (100 pts possible). So wish them luck and stay tuned to hear all the details of this exciting season finale…
Garage Spec Magazine
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