Sup my Speedhunters followers!
After solid testing during the week with the car running at its best this season this was set to be my best performance yet.
I snapped an axle on the Wednesday test day which meant I sat Thursday out while the team pieced BADBUL back together.
Here are the Twins turbo team doing the final bolt check over the car after installing the new axles that were kindly delivered buy fellow Mazda Drift buddy, Joon Maeng. A HUGE thanks to Joon for carrying the bag of axles on his flight from LA to Jersey.
A lot of drivers and teams had said Wall Speedway NJ was the most challenging circuit in the series with its tight banked wall and heavy transition from the bank to the flat infield section, then add to that the rough switching zone through the figure 8 section that had been breaking up and lifting over the days of competition.
This is after my crash into Cyrus Martinez on Friday practice before qualifying. My RX-8 had huge speed around the bank and also through the infield section. Unfortunately, Cyrus spun and I had no where to go but sideways into him. The only damage to the cars was cosmetic so a few cable ties and race tape and we were back up on the grid.
This is the first section of the infield. The entry into this corner was by far my favorite part of the track where you could almost throw the car backwards into the outside line, just jump on the power, start smashing through the gears while setting up for the whoop section, ha!
C-Los fitting a new set of stretched Falkens wrapped over my Weds rims and Marc Koz filling up the water bottle for my water sprayers.
There were also a lot of car set-up changes to get it to perform at this track. We compromised speed through the infield to insure the car was set-up loose enough for the bank and the huge transition to the flat. During my first qualifying run, I felt real comfortable on this track and felt it was my time to shine this year.
The bank here is so much fun! The initial entry speed is rather slow but once the car is crossed up on the bank I needed to keep it full throttle and the acceleration is such a sweet feeling, with my setup if I breathed the throttle at all the rear would want to hook up and throw the front up face first into the wall and I didn’t want that to happen! So lots of revs and just keep screwing on the lock. In qualifying I had the 4th fastest speed off the bank and also maintained good angle.
After the heavy transition and switch to the infield, again I was back on full throttle. Thanks to my Falken 615-K tires allow me to get heaps of smoke which always looks so much better. Personally, I think a slower drift with big angle and smoke looks way better than some others approach of shallow but fast.
Around the final turn I came in a meter (3 feet) off the outside clip which hurt my score putting me in 15th.
Taking off for my second qualifying run I wanted to really impress on the switch into the infield. In this photo, I’m full throttle in 3rd gear about to clutch kick entry into the bank.
Not as good as my first pass around the bank as I was thinking too much about my infield switch. These are all things I'm learning now competing on the tough tracks with mind blowing competition and vehicles. Always need to take one corner at a time.
The car has just settled itself after the slam off the wedge bank and now I can throw it in hard….
Well I definitely did a reverse entry but my plan was to actually keep drifting through the section! Whoops! After all, the competition had their second passes, I qualified in 22nd overall. Again stoked that I had made top 32 and pumped that I again improved on my last result from Atlanta.
After qualifying, I mingled with the crowds that showed their support and also show them over the car. I like watching kid’s faces as we let them sit in the driver’s seat, see and feel my office first hand! The funny thing is they all walk to the wrong side when I say jump in the driver’s seat as my RX-8 is right hand drive. Haha!
Signing some sweet Speedhunters posters from our NFS Electro lounge for my fans! Damn this poster brings back memories, FD 4rotor screaming around the walls of the Long Beach RBWDC and Matt Powers super low slung S14….
C-Los and I changing out the nitrogen bottles in my Bro Dozer dually. Weird facial expression for some reason?
Toni radioing through what I need to do as she spots from around the venue. The great thing with having your Fiancé spotting for you is she will tell you if your doing *** or what ya need to do right. The last thing ya want to hear is that your killing it but really you suck!
Now at the official signing session where all the drivers line up and the fans get to meet their favorite drivers. It’s hard when you want to talk to them but then you make them hold up the line.
That’s Miki covering me from the very hot Jersey sun. She also does a fantastic job of keeping the NFS electro lounge pumping throughout the day with her phat beats.
Thanks to Matt and his CRAP sunglasses sponsor he hooked us all up a pair of specs.
Toni applying a heap of stickers to her spotting folder that were given to her by Will Roegge.
This is from the last practice session on the Friday after this run I felt super confident for tomorrows battles where I would meet Takatori for my first battle.
Saturday was the big day. The team and I are siked and felt that we can take it all the way today. I was full of confidence in myself and team.
I rolled down into the hot pit grid to started melting my Falkens to prep myself for a battle practice run with all round cool dude, Ross Petty.
Ross was first onto the track so he obviously picked the chase lane. I really wanted to get some more chase runs in as I wanted to make sure my speed wasn't going to trip me up chasing.
Bang!! As I transitioned from the bank, the hard impact again smashed an axle and blew my locked diff. Here I am 1 wheel drive trying to get out of Petty's way so he can continue his practice run.
The team jumped under the car and spun spanners as quick as possible as the top 32 was about to start. Their mission to replace the axle and diff kindly lent to us by another fellow drift buddy Tony 'Hurricane' Angelo.
As fans came over during the top 32 to see what was up, I gave them the low down on what happened. We only had limited time but we were the final battle of the top 32.
This is Vince of RT Tuning coming over to lend a hand. Again I am doing some funny actions of what happened. Vince thank you so much for letting us use your facilities and to store our rig/trailer/car etc at your shop between Atlanta and Jersey!
Time is running out quick, so I jump under the car and lend a hand.
All sorts of stuff now spinning through my head as I start to realize that this round was not meant to be the one. I was so looking forward to putting on a noisy, smokey show for all the hardcore supporters of Jersey .
I watched Takatori take a solo run through the live stream on our big screen in our pit bay. The live stream is great how all my fans, family and sponsors can watch it from anywhere in the world live.
I was really looking forward to this battle, I remember when Takatori and Yoichi Immamura came to NZ for D1GP driver search in 2007 I looked up to the Japanese pros so much. The sound of Takatori's supercharger bolted to his V8 S15 sounds so sweet.
Toni and I went up to the spotter’s tower and watched the top16. It was awesome to see how wild the crowd gets in Jersey . I can’t wait till Jersey next year.
A huge thanks to all my supporters that came out. It is very much appreciated! Hopefully, I can do you all proud at round 4 in Seattle. Thanks to all the marshall’s and media that are out in the sun all day, the organizers, my team and my sponsors and the Gardella Racing team for all their help over the weekend.
Though, the bad luck didn’t end at the track, as the drive back to Los Angeles consisted of three separate blowouts on the trailer and also a blow out on the truck in the middle of Iowa. Thanks to BIG O's Tires for coming to the rescue with some 24" low-pro tyres for the Bro Dozer.
See you in Seattle in no time at all!! Woohoo!!!