Cornelius, NC (Oct 3, 2012) – It had been 2 months since the D’Vanz Motorsports team had run their Mustang in anger. Luckily for them, Virginia International Raceway is one of their favorite tracks and one that they’ve had a good amount of success at. Normally this long of a break causes some teams to lose focus, this break seemed to give DVM a chance to re-focus and really understand what they needed to do in this final event of their season.
So far 2012 had been a good season for Doug Van Den Brink and his Ford Mustang. He had a pretty good size points lead coming into the VIR event but the points race wasn’t “a lock” so every bolt on the car was checked and double checked. The spare parts were all prepped and ready to go should any damage happen, on or off the track, and DV was doing his best not to take anything for granted in terms of competition. He knew that there “was a bulls eye on his back” and every driver was a potential spoiler in this season long points chase.
This again would be a single day event with two morning practice sessions and then straight into Qualifying and Eliminations. Adding to the drama was Mother Nature, as the threat of rain was a concern for all the teams.
On Doug’s first qualifying pass, he laid down a good, safe lap that got them squarely into the show. On his second run, DV pressed a little harder and got a little closer to the Clipping Points but only wound up 9th in the final order. As he climbed from the car DV said, “I thought we’d do a bit better than that! Maybe they got our scores mixed up with someone else’s? That just doesn’t make sense… I don’t really understand that placing, but the good news is we’re in the show… bad news is we’re going to have to work hard to get to the front. That’s ok, our car is good, we know this track and if it stays dry, we’ll be just fine…” he concluded.
For their first tandem battle, Doug would go up against Tommy Van Cleef in his turbo Toyota Supra. Tommy has a lot of racing experience and can always be counted on to run hard. On lap 1, Doug stayed fairly close matching the Supra’s line and carrying good angle that gave him a small advantage. On lap 2, Van Den Brink put down a solid lap, while behind him Van Cleef spun his car out handing the round win to the Mustang.
As our team was being told of their round 1 win, the rain started to fall… and fall… and fall even harder. We’re talking about the sky opening up and the rain really coming down. This was not what our men from North Carolina were hoping for, as there hadn’t been any rain all day, they had a full “dry set-up” on the car and the Mustang’s turbo-charged engine makes it a real handful to control in wet conditions. In the short time they had before round 2, the team made some chassis adjustments to the car and got it ready for their next battle.
Van Den Brink’s next challenger would be Sammy Tiger in his Nissan 240. With Sammy being a seasoned veteran and the event’s #1 Qualifier, Doug knew this was going to be a tough round. The first lap was fairly smooth for both drivers, neither of them making many mistakes and both being reasonably conservative in the tricky conditions. On lap 2, Doug brought a lot of speed down the hill towards the Pit Bend. In his efforts to keep close, Tiger lost the handle on his car and spun around just nearly missing the large concrete barriers. With DV finishing his lap without incident, he was awarded the win and advanced to the Top 4.
Adam Seaman would be next up in his Chevy V8 Nissan-240. With the rain continuing to fall and the temperature continuing to drop, vision (or lack thereof) was beginning to be a problem for Van Den Brink. We’ve all had situations where your windshield will fog up from time to time, right? Just imagine if your “defrosters” didn’t work? And now add pouring rain, ridiculous high speeds, while sliding sideways with another car doing the same thing only a foot or so away from your car. Try doing that without the ability to see a thing through your front windshield…
So here Doug was, battling to get into the event finals and no matter how dry the crew got the “plexiglass” (actually it’s called Lexan) windshield before he left the starting line, by the time he got down to the fastest part of the track, he couldn’t see anything through the foggy windshield… … Not the most confidence-inspiring situation to be in. “Yeah, that was a pretty tough deal”, Doug said after his round. “The crew did all they could do to wipe it dry at the time but it would fog right back up as soon as they would finish. I just had to do my best.”
On lap 1, Doug led and did well just to make it all the way through the lap without driving off the track or into a wall. Behind him, Seaman fell back a good ways and wasn’t able to match the Mustang’s speed in the slippery condition, giving DV a slight advantage. On lap 2, Doug knew he was in trouble right from the start as the spray coming off of the lead car’s tires, combined with the foggy windshield, completely blacked out Doug’s vision. Not being able to see, he made one too many corrections and the judges awarded the win to the Nissan driver… Doug would now have to battle for 3rd place.
While it’s not how you hope things will go, sometimes in drifting one team’s misfortunes are another team’s gifts. In the other half of the Top 4 bracket, Dan Savage who is always a serious contender, had some vision problems of his own and had slid off in one of the fastest sections of the track. In the soaking wet grass, his car seemed to almost pick up speed as he went headlong into the steel Armco wall and ended his chances of competing for the day. Good news for Dan was that his safety equipment did its job and he jumped out of his car unhurt, but disappointed. By crashing, Savage lost his Top 4 battle and should have then gone up against Van Den Brink to decide 3rd place in the next round. With his car receiving so much damage from hitting the barriers, there was no way he could make the “start call”. Without having to turn another treacherous lap, DVM and their Mustang were awarded 3rd place overall, earning Doug the final step on the Podium, his fourth of the season.
With the event concluded for the day, thoughts immediately moved to the season-long points chase and who would become The 2012 Streetwise Drift Formula D Pro-Am Champion. Collecting his 3rd drifting title and the 7th overall championship of his career, was our-man Doug Van Den Brink, with Dan Savage finishing 2nd and Nate (Little-Tex) Hamilton coming home 3rd overall. Besides some nice trophies and contingency awards, each driver was awarded their Formula Drift A-level license for the next 2-years.
After wiping the champagne from his eyes, Doug said, “As you can imagine, I really wanted to win this event and I think we really could have had I not been completely blinded by the foggy-windshield. That being said, I am thrilled to have finished 3rd today although I’m sorry Dan’s car was too badly damaged for us to battle-it-out… But how’bout this Championship? Is this awesome or what? I’m so proud of our team. This was our goal from the start of the season and everyone pulled together to give us the results that we have. My guys: Jon, Jason, Chris, Brandin and Kevin all did a great job at the track and when we needed a little extra, Bobby and Ben were there at the shop to make sure we loaded-up on the trailer ready to go for each event. Without each one of these guys, my year would not have turned out the way it did and I am very grateful to have friends like these… Naturally, all of our Product Sponsors are a big part of this Championship. They continue to provide us with the very best equipment money can buy and our victory here today is theirs as well…” Van Den Brink concluded.
Once the end-of-the-season celebrations and Holidays are complete, plans for 2013 will be in the works, so please check back with us to see what DVM will be up to this Winter…. Expect, big changes as the team is really going to step things up as they ready themselves to battle head-to-head with some of the fastest cars and best drift-drivers in the world which is The Formula Drift Championships..