FORMULA DRIFT SEATTLE – PRO II Round 3 | August 4th and 5th
After a long break, and a long drive from our home in Florida, my team and I arrived at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington for round three of the Formula Drift Pro 2 series. I was coming into this track with very little practice since my first and only other experience there was when my SR engine lost compression during my rookie season… on the first lap.
Needless to say, I was hungry for practice time to try to make up for my lack of experience, as well as to take a shot at the extremely long bank. After taking the couple laps, I realized I had way too much grip dialed into the car. Along the bank, the car was wanting to straighten into the wall if I lifted at all and I was fighting the car the whole way around. After making adjustments during the remainder of the first session , the car was finally starting to feel more settled in drift.
Heading into the second practice session before qualifying, I was less concerned about the handling of the car, and I could now perfect where I was putting the car throughout the course. My spotter was watching my runs as well as listening to judge feedback. One of the main tips was to enter later; Since I was entering at the second set of entry cones, it was suggested that I enter at the last entry cone.
With this in mind, I decided to concentrate on my entry. I accelerated towards the bank and threw the car sideways – too late. My rear end hit the wall and started to rotate. I tried to turn my wheel fast enough to save the front but I had too much momentum. The front of the car hit and I bounced off the wall and down the bank to a halt.
As soon as the safety crews arrived and checked me out I jumped out of the car to assess the damage. When I returned to the pits we got to work replacing: Broken rear wheel, bent rear upper control arm, bent front lower control arm, bent tie rod, bent cross-member, and broken power steering rack. Unfortunately, due to time restraints and qualifying just around the corner, we decided to leave the bent suspension in the rear and just try to align it close. For the front, we hammered on the cross-member to bang it back into shape and then replaced the lower control arm and tie rod end. The power steering rack had to stay due to time constraints.
We were just about to put the car on the ground when we were informed it was out turn for qualifying. We weren’t ready, so we pushed forward to make it for the second qualifying run. When I took the car to the burnout box to test the car and see how bad the steering was, I realized that while I did have power steering, the rack would get stuck when I turned to the left and I would have to force it back the other way instead of it returning to center like normal.
I decided to run the car as-is and attempt to qualify. If I just managed to get a score high enough to get me in the top 16 I could have swapped the rack for the competition the next day.
I threw the car into the bank. My line was alright, but I had to make corrections to stay up high on the bank as I entered the infield. I managed the transition with the broken rack and continue the course. I wasn’t as close to the second outer zone as I would’ve liked, but I was able to wrap around the final two clipping points and make it past the finish line. I was pumped. It was definitely a score-able run, but it was only a 49.
I knew there was little hope to making it into the top 16 and my suspicions were correct. Although I didn’t make it into the top 16, I was really proud of myself and my team for pushing through and getting the car back on track. Now we can come home and prepare for the finals in Texas!