PARCfest 2014: Through My Lens (Gallery 1 of 2)

Once a year, Pat’s Acres Racing Complex hosts a two day drifting event.  Drifters from across the Pacific Northwest make their way to Canby, Oregon for two days of drifting in the Labor Day sun, linked together by an evening of camping.

PARCfest 2014 was one of the best weekends of my life. That’s just about all that I have to say, as my lexicon does not contain the words to properly communicate just how great those two days in September really were.

If you have the time and the means, you absolutely must make the trip to PARC for PARCfest 2015.

What The Hell Happened to Ben Whyte? (By the man himself)

(Since Always Reckless could not make it to Penticton, enjoy pictures from the final round of EVD ProAm as well as the following Open Drift!)

So some people might still be wondering “what the hell happened to Ben?”. Most people could probably care less. Either way here is my honest tale of the occurrences that lead me to wreck my car and put me out of drifting for the next little while.

EVDOpenDriftSep-2014-1334So pro am is hard.

EVDProAmFinal-2014-6865Like driving and stuff is tough but once you figure out you just need to go faster, it becomes a little clearer so it becomes the easiest part. The hardest part is all the shit in between. All the growing pains of what NEEDS to change with the car like suspension setup, what tires to run, how to keep the engine happy etc. I had never broken an axle and all of a suddenly I snapped both doing the most seemingly innocent shit right before opening ceremonies at round 2. Earlier than that just practicing, I developed a wheel hop issue which I hadn’t encountered before either. Every event something was broken bringing the car home but that’s racing right? Sure. It wears on you though. $100 here $200 there sucks. The thing that really killed me: tires. I spent too much money on tires and I was on the low end of tire quantities compared to others at each event. I was like a heroin addict chasing the dragon, No matter what I justified $600+ on tires an event. Get a sponsor right? Well the time to do that is in The off season. but given that I hadn’t run big bank before, I didn’t know if I could provide a return on investment for a sponsor so I did not want to go out and embarrass myself or a sponsor out at the track. I tried to go it alone and it freakin’ killed my bank account. It was rough, I wanted to just quit but that’s dumb. I wanted to see the Bro-Am season through to the end if for nothing else but a feeling of closure and completion.

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I had been planning all year to make it out to the Drift Union Invitational (DUI) and was not going to let anything stop me. I wanted to have at least one trip to go drive somewhere new and at that point, I really needed a “just for fun” event as competing is stressful. Well at round 3 the zombie queen developed an issue where it wouldn’t start on it’s own power. It sounded like a dead battery but would do basically the same thing with known good batteries. So starter right? No, that’s wrong. The whole week leading up to DUI I was in the shop swapping starters, checking for continuity, and just plain trying to figure out what the fucking cars problem was. It made no sense, an automotive anomaly. As a last ditch effort I took the Friday off before my trip to try and figure it out but to my dismay, no dice. Whatever, load the bitch up and figure it out later.

EVDProAmFinal-2014-6775Made the trek out to Penticton with my lady sittin’ shotgun and had an amazingly (almost boringly) smooth journey besides the torrential downpour for the first 2.5 hours. Oh and the epic wreck on the coquihalla involving a tow truck and a pickup with a fifth wheel. That was pretty gnarly. Anyways, Made it to Penticton Friday night, checked in and tried to sleep but it was the night before race day, who can sleep?

EVDProAmRnd5-2014-5629Made my way up (way up) to the track unloaded and was immediately blown away. If you’ve never been to Penticton let me paint a picture: imagine a dirt/gravel graveyard of second gen Camaros, random demo derby cars, a frame rack and other go-fast-and-destroy related goodies.

Now look closer at that gravel and realize it’s not really gravel but mostly broken car parts.

The pits are maybe the size of your local McDonald’s parking lot. Now cram 50ish cars in there with all the other aforementioned post-apocalyptic-esque hardware. Now you have DUI.

EVDOpenDriftSep-2014-1591Drivers meeting consisted of Shawn Browne with a mega phone saying “drift here, don’t drift here. If you drift where I told you not to, I’ll punch you in the face” or something like that. It was cool ‘cause everyone understood what was expected of them and even greater; everyone smiled. Not one even remotely cross face of the bunch. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that at an event.

EVDOpenDriftSep-2014-1092I parked next to my team tandem mates Nate Schewchuk and Jason Cowles (and the frame rack) and had a couple things I needed to do to the car (understatement). I get under the car only to hear Nate say “Come here and look at this now”… There were 25 CARS ON THE TRACK AT THE SAME TIME!

EVDOpenDriftSep-2014-1671From BEAMS powered corollas to JZ-S14’s and everything In between. I was mesmerized and motivated. Got in the car, it started by itself for the last time in its life and went out and proceeded to just go fucking hard. With my pretty lady egging me on we just went full throttle everywhere, random tandem style. Nate broke his first of six axles for the event and around then is when I tandemed with Stephen Aura in his mk3 supra. Followed him damn near the closest I’ve been to anyone and all I could think was “you better not fucking spin”. He didn’t and we high-fived later because awesomeness. EVDProAmRnd5-2014-7018

I have family up north and I hardly see them. So when I told them I was gonna be fairly close they took the opportunity to come out. My uncle Bradd was the most stoked. He and his buddy ended up hooking me up with 4 tires for the event and I’m forever grateful, even if I never got to use them. Gave Bradd ride-alongs and he was beyond pumped and loved it but the car started overheating so we had to cut the laps short. EVDOpenDriftSep-2014-1521

So short quick sessions is what I was limited to so I took my OTHER uncle Jodi out for rides. He was more hesitant so I tried to scare the shit outta him. We went hard on initiation, tapped the wall, threw it in damn near perpendicular on the straight aaaaaand car fucking died. You dick. Well I coasted off where I couldn’t be hit only to have a dude roll up and go “so hey, you’re like on fire back there *points to back of car*. See ya later”.

Panic! Get out and grab the extinguisher and realize when I wall tapped my bumper fell in front of my exhaust and, consequently, went ablaze. Learned how to use a fire extinguisher real quick and got the fire out and apparently let out a loud goofy laugh that everyone could hear. Pushed the car into the pits because it wouldn’t start regardless and it was trying to overheat again anyways. EVDOpenDriftSep-2014-1666

So now I’m super pissed. No clue why it killed itself but now the car overheats on the regular. Ok shut it off right? Well shit, now I have to push start it. Thank god for all the rad dudes at DUI for pushing me every time to bump start the car otherwise it would’ve been a really short weekend. Well we started diving into it and trying to see if more minds could overcome an anomaly. Checked all things that I already did and nothing. Checked for voltage from the new alternator I had just purchased and it was low-ish. Ok whatever. Shut the car off and that new-ish alternator started pouring smoke! I don’t think that’s how those are supposed to work. Fortunately others needed parts from the local Lordco, so I got in on that order. For a while I’ve known I should have an alternator with higher output and they make them but, they’re $140. Shit. Bit the bullet (well Nate but the bullet) got a shiny new alternator and away I went and tried to get in on the team tandem comp practice. EVDProAmRnd5-2014-5742

Well I think I had gotten a few laps in and was getting super comfortable with the layout all while giving Jamie Lynn ride-alongs. So I decided to try and get closer in our tandem train. Nate in front, Jason second, then myself, Gaelen and another dude with an RB-powered s14. Well on initiation I see Nate’s car do something super odd (twerk it Miley) and straighten out. Immediately after Jason does the same but on purpose and goes high. Oh shit, I see why. Nate had broken his 3rd or 4th axle and it flew out the back of the car. I poured on angle and tried to drop low and the axle bounced up high and hit the side mirror With Jamie, inches away from sure death. I stopped, made sure everyone was ok, and knowing that it was hard to see what had happened and debris on the track I doubled back to grab the axle of (attempted) murder. From what I heard, Shawn at the start line was saying “what the hell is dude doing?”. I picked up the axle, for now it was my war trophy and triumphantly displayed it for all my brethren to see.

Shawn, being as we have had extremely limited contact and doesn’t know me all that well just says “oh Jesus Christ” and waits as I get back in line. Well everyone was done with practicing and I was the only one in line so I had a solo glory run. Tried to do a cooker on the start line and it tried to die again. Clutched in, kept it alive and was pissed to the point where I lost all caring and did a big anger burnout through the course. I don’t think I have been full throttle committed more than I was for that lap. Felt good but the car was obviously hurtin’ and by the end of the day the oil pan had developed a leak probably due to bottoming out on one of the “elevation changes” at the track. EVDProAmFinal-2014-7007

So now car won’t start by itself, dies at random, overheats, has caught fire, and smoked alternator. She also has no hood because it got bent in a collision with Jason Cowles and now the oil pan is leaking badly. Does that stop me? Well it should have. Instead I drained the oil, left it overnight to make sure there was little to no residue and came back with JB-weld in the morning. I’ve done this before at In-Motion or some random event; I knew there was a problem with the car, I knew I should’ve stopped and just gone home yet something in me just kept driving. It’s like when you have that zit that’s not ready to pop yet you try anyways… Then you try harder and you know nothing gonna happen but you keep going and making it worse. Well I stuffed the car at In-Motion, guess what happened next? EVDOpenDriftSep-2014-1709

Sunday morning, first thing, I JB-welded the pan, put the oil back in and got ANOTHER push start. No leaks. Cool… Just go drive it right? Well I grabbed one of the dudes who had push started me all day Saturday and gave him shotgun for all his hard work. Got 3 laps in and on the fourth I initiated on the bank and mid drift my main accessory belt flew off and in turn I lost power steering. Jesus took the wheel and sent me basically head on into the wall.

I did everything I could to try and regain control but I was going too fast and there was NOTHING I could do. Looked at home boy sitting shotgun, made sure he was okay and made sure the track was cold before I got out. Hell I think that a few spectators jumped on the track and were the first responders on the scene. EVDProAmFinal-2014-6960

So bash bars are supposed to be a bit of a crumple zone. I made mine out of 1.5x.120 DOM and gusseted it for strength. That was cool for running into cars and stuff but when I hit the wall it sent all the force of the hit into the car’s frame rails. The strut tower was touching both master cylinders on the driver’s side, a frame rail dented a header tube where it previously had over 1/2″ of clearance, the subframe was bent, motor mounts were bent, a tension rod broken and somehow a rear toe arm broke too. EVDOpenDriftSep-2014-1524

I should’ve listened to all the signs.

I should’ve just stopped and brought the car home.

I didn’t and now I have a heap of steel.

All I could think of after was where I’ve seen this wreck before; Trent Stromkins at Evergreen. He was hauling ass on the 5/8ths and had a steering failure that sent him head first in the wall and it was the scariest thing I’ve seen in real life. He ended up with a broken back from it and has never been quite the same. I knew in Penticton my lady was with child. I know drifting isn’t my bread and butter. If it was, oh I would be back out there to finish the season and try to get my license and make my career flourish but the fact of the matter is, it’s not.

I have a blue collar job and If I break myself I don’t make money and in turn, I don’t get to have a house, I don’t get a car, I wouldn’t be able to support a kid or teach it how to do cool shit. At this point in life with the path I’ve chose, I can’t let a hobby possibly put me in a wheelchair or worse and have it take away things I’ve worked so hard for. EVDProAmFinal-2014-6916

So what about the car? Sure, I COULD’VE fixed it. But the sheer amount of stupid money I’ve thrown at the car this year trying to step up to pro-am made me slightly bitter. It was never my idea to get an s-chassis, it just kind of happened and I rolled with it and made the best of it but, I never felt it was really “me”. I’ve wanted to do a different chassis for a while and now that this one is wrecked I’ll see if I can make a fresh start happen. Hell I might just roll the zombie queen behind the shop until I get bored and wanna throw a cheap car together.

Or burn it to the ground. EVDProAmFinal-2014-6947

This isn’t me quitting drifting, I’ll be back. Just not on the pro-am level. I miss the fun. Despite wrecking my car I had the most fun at that event than I have had all year putting fragile ass eggs in the pro-am basket. There’s more fun to be had than what I’ve been experiencing and I need to get back to doing full track dickhead burnouts and driving in tandem trains with people I love driving with. Not going into panic mode doing pro-am. I tried it, it’s not for me. EVDOpenDriftSep-2014-1071

If I had tried to do pro-am earlier in life and tried to live out every boys childhood dream of being a race car driver and make a career out of it, maybe. But, since it’s a way to blow off steam, I want to keep having fun with drifting before I get completely jaded by the sport like I did playing hockey. It got serious, got less fun and now I have little to no desire to lace up the skates. I wouldn’t mind being the old dude at the track, tire slaying with my kids and not giving a fuck. But it’s gotta stay fun for that to happen.

 

For burnouts from now till infinity,

Ben

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Evergreen Drift Open Drift 9-6-14

Photos from last weekends open drift at Evergreen Speedway

 

Tandem Mayhem / Pro Am Round 4

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Quick gallery from Tandem mayhem and Pro Am round 4


 

Pro Am results

  1. Mike Pollard
  2. Kory Keezer
  3. Cameron Moore

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Formula Drift Seattle 2014: Pro 2

Pro2header copyNot only was Evergreen Speedway host to the 5th round of Formula Drift competition, but it was also the site of the second round of Formula Drift’s newest series: Pro 2.  Designed to be a bridge between ProAm and Pro, the series is a welcome addition to the Formula Drift program for a number of reasons.

FD2014-Thursday-0329Given the ever-increasing popularity of drifting a significant number of drivers were earning their professional licenses through their local ProAm circuits, and were fed directly into the highest level of FD competition.  A glut of talented drivers that were spending considerable amounts of blood, sweat and tears (and money) to travel to and compete in FD competition were leaving events frustrated, as they were unable to get enough seat time to be competitive and even when they were able to qualify the chance of being matched up against drivers like Aasbo or Gittin was high.  FD2014-Thursday-9937Pro 2 offers these newly licensed drivers a chance to compete against the best drivers in other ProAm programs across the nation.  More seat time at different tracks is always a good thing, and plus it’s a chance to be part of the big show!  That’s the other great thing about Pro 2:  IT’S MORE DRIFTING.  How could you not want more drifting?

FD2014-Friday-1232 FD2014-Thursday-0496FD2014-Friday-0895Before we go any farther, I want to cover something: the out-of-town media personnel are unfamiliar with the local drivers, and they were eager to know who was behind the wheel of two particular cars.  These cars belonged to Victor Moore and Jeremy Richter.  To those of us who stomp across the grass and dirt of Evergreen and Pat’s Acres on a regular basis the high-quality performances put down by Moore and Richter were expected, but to the foreigners these guys were enigmas.  After Richter rode Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s door around the track on Thursday I recall one photographer exclaimed loudly: “Who the f*ck was that?”

(Sorry Phillips and Jeanerett,I think you guys are radical too!)

FD2014-Friday-1245 FD2014-Friday-1293 FD2014-Friday-1296 FD2014-Friday-1257 FD2014-Friday-1371WHAT YEAR IS IT???FD2014-Friday-1383 FD2014-Friday-1412 FD2014-Friday-1429 I am become missile car, destroyer of body panels.

FD2014-Friday-1436FD2014-Friday-1518 After qualifying the day before to set the order, the Top 16 Pro 2 drivers made their way out onto the track for introductions.  Two of Evergreen’s finest made it into the main competition: Mike Phillips and Victor Moore!  Will Parsons, the driver I was working with for the weekend, also made it into the big show.  Will and his green AE-86 have been around for a long time (remember XDC at Seattle?  The dirt-drops?), and I highly recommend that you make a point of meeting the man.  As one of the friendliest and most personable people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting I can safely say it is simply impossible not to cheer for him and his quietly intense driving style.  I’ll be talking more about Will (and Jeremy Richter!) in an upcoming article, so lets move on.

FD2014-Friday-1533 Following driver introductions the media hordes were shooed off of the track so that the drivers could do their burnouts and donuts.  After filling the stands with smoke and cording their qualifying/practice tires a gust of wind revealed the infield to be suddenly empty, the snarling race cars now lined up at the start line.  I’ve never had the chance to use a wide angle lens for more than ten minutes at a time, and as my father’s friend was kind enough to lend me his Nikkor 12-24mm f/4 for the weekend I made sure to get as much use out of it as possible.  Hopping over the wall near where the cars come off the bank and into the infield, I set my camera up and waited for the owner of the screaming rotary engine on the other side of the track to come over to my side of the oval.

FD2014-Friday-1553The first match of the day was between Jeremy Lowe in his RX-7 and Hiro(?) Sumida in his classically-executed Toyota Cressida. After learning the hard way that I probably shouldn’t be shooting at such low shutter speeds when I was literally right next to the cars, I set about trying to capture Sumida’s struggles against the top-qualified Lowe.

FD2014-Friday-1547The Cressida had been looking shaky all day today and yesterday and was fighting to stand up to the #1 qualifier. Unable to shift into the infield, the Cressida put its back end and two tires off of the course on the first run, giving the RX-7 the advantage and eventual victory.

FD2014-Friday-1562Next up was Jeff Stoneback in his white, V8-powered S14 and my driver, Will “Kill” Parsons and his F20C AE-86. Stoneback’s power advantage was clear and plans to deal with it had been discussed at length in the pits. One of the primary judging parameters for FD is proximity, and the fear was that Stoneback and his S14 would simply walk away from Will on the long bank and create a gap he could not close.

FD2014-Friday-1094 Gears were churning in the Drift Viking’s head, and this was the most intense I had seen the otherwise relaxed and laid-back Parsons all weekend. Will had looked solid in practice, but to my admitted disappointment so had Stoneback. As a potential Rookie of the Year Jeff was no slouch, and it would take all of Will’s considerable experience and skill to beat him.

FD2014-Friday-1563On the other side of the track I saw a green Corolla line up against a white S14, and my heart rate doubled. As expected, the Silvia ambled away from the AE-86 and initiated well ahead of the Toyota. Yet before I could so much as sigh Stoneback’s bumper caught on the 5/8ths wall, the forces of friction snatching the car out of drift and smacking it against the wall! Parsons sailed on by, and the match looked to be in the bag for Parsons. No driver wants to have a win handed to them due to a crash, but now all Parsons needed to do was put in a solid lead run.

As is the nature of competitive drifting nothing is guaranteed. Jeff’s car thankfully drove away from the sudden introduction to the wall mechanically sound, and both drivers could do battle once more. Coming off the bank with Stoneback on his door, Parson’s Corolla suddenly lost drift as he apparently shifted from 5th into 3rd. The white S14 navigated the struggling green Corolla, which spun just before exiting the course. Unsurprisingly the judges called for a One More Time, as neither driver had truly given a proper demonstration of their skill. Back to their respective pits they went, shucking corded tires and mentally preparing to square off once again.

FD2014-Friday-1572The next pair of drivers in the Top 16 were Jeff Jones and Victor Moore. Following Jones onto the bank Moore stuck to the CX-Racing S14’s door, and a good battle looked to be in the making. The drift gods have not taken kindly to local drivers doing well at Evergreen when Formula Drift has come to town in the past, and Moore’s otherwise beautiful follow-run was suddenly interrupted as the Drift Office S14 wobbled and came as close as possible to losing drift.

Building a gap on the bank during his lead run, Moore looked as if he might be able to push the judges towards an OMT. But the drift gods are cruel, and another wobble and loss of drift sent the drifter with the biggest smile back to the pits. This is said all too often of many drivers, but I honestly believe that Victor Moore has what it takes to compete. The car underneath him is solid, although it does seem to misbehave on occasion. Once Moore and his team figure get his setup figured out he will be a force to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see him back out on track again.

FD2014-Friday-1591With their cars primed and ready, Stoneback and Parsons were once again sitting on the starting line. As he had on the first set of runs Stoneback built a considerable gap off of the start line during his lead run. In a testament to the strength of his character, Will appeared to be undaunted by the large gap between himself and the white Silvia ahead of him. In their haste to close up to the lead car many drivers at Evergreen will cut down into the faster inside line on the bank, a choice that often leads them to ruin. Despite closing up on Stoneback and his S14 at the end of the course, lamentations from the announcers as to the lack of proximity could be heard loud and clear. If Stoneback had not done well on the infield despite his separation from the chase car perhaps the judges might have placed less weight on the lack on proximity, but while Will was catching up Jeff took the opportunity to remind the crowd why he was the leading contender for Rookie of the Year.

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FD2014-Friday-1591 FD2014-Friday-1595Riding the door the green NST Corolla around the 5/8ths bank, Stoneback appeared to be set to deliver another solid run. Yet while Parsons made the outside clipping cones wobble as he soared past the bumper of the white and purple Nissan passed by with more than a yard to spare. Deftly guiding his car within inches of the rest of the clipping points, a glimmer of hope began to blossom as Parsons and Stoneback finished out the course. Maybe, just maybe, the judges would recognize that Will simply could not catch up to Stoneback during his follow runs and would show some leniency. Unsurprisingly the victory went to Jeff Stoneback, the judges ending the Drift Viking’s weekend early. There’s no way to get around it: Jeff Stoneback is damn good at drifting. I have not followed the contest for Rookie of the Year too closely, but unless something unusual happens Jeff is a very solid contender.FD2014-Friday-1603  FD2014-Friday-1604FD2014-Friday-1598Grey, white and green, the reptilian Sikky RX-8 contrasted sharply against the freedom machine that is Mike Phillips Ozzy Motors Nissan S14 on the start line. Phillips earned his FD Pro license at Evergreen, and is still a constant presence within the Evergreen drifting community. Practice had gone well for Mike, and the #FormulaNASCAR Silvia navigated the bank in spectacular fashion as it chased the Mazda RX-8 down into the infield. During Phillip’s lead run the Sikky RX-8 ran wide on the exit from the bank, and things were looking up for Mike until he spun just before the transition into the last clipping zone (or so I believe, my notes are not the best). As frustrating as it must be to lose in such a fashion during one’s first competition, Phillips honestly could have won had he not spun.

FD2014-Friday-1611 FD2014-Friday-1612Equally as comfortable at Evergreen as it would have been on the tarmac of Zandervoort during the early years of DTM, Hateley’s orange BMW E30 was looking consistently solid for the first time this season. Squaring off against the wide-body BMW was the pink and black Nissan S14 of Mike Pollard. Mechanical issues sent Pollard to the pits(?), and Hateley moved on to the Top 8.

FD2014-Friday-1622James Evans delivered two concise runs to beat out Eric Hill in his blue and pink Nissan 240SX.  With years of road racing in his motorsports resume, Evans was proving himself to be just as good at going sideways as he is at going straight quickly.

FD2014-Friday-1632FD2014-Friday-1635Unable to decide once and for all who had the better livery, Matt Coffman and Juha Rintanen took to the track to settle their differences. Having won the European Drift All-Stars Series last year, Rintanen was clearly a force to be reckoned with but Coffman was on top of his game. Twice they went around the track, but the judges were unable to come to determine a victor and an OMT was called for.

FD2014-Friday-1643The #1 qualifier Jeremy Lowe in his black RX-7 was set to face off against the Scion FR-S of Jeff Wolfson in the first of the Top 8 runs for Pro 2. Throughout the weekend Wolfson had either been on or off; during practice he would either put down a quality run or violently spin and usually tear off a bumper. Unfortunately Wolfson appeared to be in the “off” position for his first run against Lowe, as he lost drift on the bank and drove off of the course. Uncharacteristically Lowe also lost drift, and the judges called for a One More Time.

FD2014-Friday-1686Two LS-S14’s were the next set of cars to do battle, with Jeff Stoneback and Jeff Jones raring to demonstrate just exactly why the LS-swap was so popular. After two runs the judges felt that they could not properlydecide which Jeff was superior, and again called for an OMT. Personally I have no problem with all of the OMT’s that were issued, more drifting is always better!

FD2014-Friday-1669Coffman and Rintanen, shod in new tires and ready to decide upon a victor, were the next pair of drivers to roar out of the bank and into the infield. Yet while Coffman drifted into the infield Juha had lost all angle as he was preparing to come down off the bank, and coasted off course with all four tires pointing in the same direction.  Despite a stellar effort from Rintanten on his follow run that involved him driving within inches of Matt’s door, the Achilles S14 could not best the War Machine and its stalwart pilot.

FD2014-Friday-1677The fortunes of Wolfson did not improve during his OMT runs against Lowe, and the RX-7 sent the black and white FR-S back to the pits. The screaming rotary of Lowe was akin to the song of harpies, luring drivers to their doom. After qualifying first Lowe looked destined for the podium; the only real question was on which step.

FD2014-Friday-1579To finish out the OMT’s Stoneback and Jones took to the long bank of Evergreen once again, each determined to prove that they were the better Jeff. The victory went to the ravaged CX Racing S14 of Jeff Jones, sending him on to the Final 4.

FD2014-Friday-1692 FD2014-Friday-1690Dan Savage was storming through the Pro 2 field in his Sikky RX-8, and Hateley was now the only driver that stood between him and the Final 4. The competition had reached a point where completing two solid runs would no longer secure victory; proximity, line and angle were now more important than ever. Savage had quickly adapted to Evergreen on Thursday and was now running the course with metered precision, and it was all Hateley could do to keep up. The efforts of the orange E30 proved to not be enough, and the lizard-like RX-8 moved on.

FD2014-Friday-1697 FD2014-Friday-1699For Matt Coffman the Top 4 was tantalizingly close, and to achieve his best result so far this season he only needed to dispatch the other half of the Sikky duo: James Evans and his Nissan 350Z. The grizzled veteran of many different racing series was not a man to be trifled with, and for the first run Evans lead Coffman around the track. Both Coffman and Evans filled clipping zones with ease and matched each other perfectly; the deciding factor would likely be Matt’s lead run. It was during this run that the Top 4 slipped through Matt’s fingers as he flew off the course where the bank ended, gifting the win to Evans.

FD2014-Friday-1713The seemingly unstoppable Jeremy Lowe was dispatched by Jeff Jones, relegating the black RX-7 to a guaranteed third place thanks to his top qualifying spot.

FD2014-Friday-1717Their meeting on the tarmac was demanded by destiny; the two Sikky drivers were the next pair of drivers to engage in righteous conflict. While the victor would go on to challenge for first place, the loser would take fourth. With nearly two decades of racing experience between Dan Savage and Jeremy Evans, the outcome was far from certain.  A mighty roar echoed off the foliage ensconcing the track as throttles were pressed to the floor; tires howled in agony as the reptilian duo tore down the massive bank and into the infield.

FD2014-Friday-1725With nearly seven years of drifting experience burned into his nomex it was Dan Savage who walked away the victor; his compatriot in the Z33 was unable to match his proximity to the clipping points in the infield and was thusly subdued.

FD2014-Friday-1730Arriving at the final battle, Jeff Jones had spent nearly twice as much on track as Dan Savage due to a series of One-More-Times. Whereas Dan Savage had deftly guided his Mazda through the field, Jones seemed to use his V8-powered Silvia to bash his way to the top. How they arrived at the final battle did not matter as the two drivers left the start line; their performance right at this very moment would determine whether or not their efforts were worth the tolls exacted.

FD2014-Friday-1730 FD2014-Friday-1739Try as he might, Jones could not match Savage.  Where the white S14 wobbled and balked, the green and grey RX-8 powered through.  Should Jones come within a foot of a clip, Savage would place his rear within six inches of the plastic cone.  Both drivers were terrifyingly good, but as with all good and just competition only one man could be the victor.FD2014-Friday-1748I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so beside themselves with joy; Dan Savage leapt into the air with his fist towards the sky at announcement of his victory and nearly fell to his knees after coming back down to Earth.  Savage was practically dancing on his toes for the entire time he was out of his car, and only stopped to deliver a deep bow to the audience.  What was especially satisfying about all of the Top 4 battles is that they were all true contests of driver skill; those in attendance really got to see a proper show.  To my knowledge no-one suffered any mechanical failures mid-run, and a crash did not gift any wins.  To participate in just competition is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and Dan Savage walked away with the prize that makes that feeling all the better: victory.

 

Congratulations Mr. Savage, you earned it.

*We’re working on getting a new WP theme that is more friendly to pictures and articles, but in the mean-time be sure to click on the pictures if you want to see them in their full wallpaper-sized glory!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Formula Drift Seattle 2014: Through My Lens

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The current plan is to have write-ups covering Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well as individual articles devoted to Will Parsons and Jeremy Richter.  While that is being produced, here’s a simple gallery made up of shots from Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Remember to click on the images to enjoy them in their full, non-squished glory.  Enjoy!

 

Evergreen Drift Grassroots 2014: Round 4

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7499 copyAs the contention for the 2014 EVD Grassroots Title comes to a head, one could have been forgiven for assuming that prior to Round 4 the season was for the most part set in stone.  The drivers capable of taking the top spots at the end of Round 5 were only within a few championship points of each other following the conclusion of Round 3, and unless something out of the ordinary were to happen at Round 4 picking the top 5 drivers would not have been a difficult task.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7485To clarify just what “something out of the ordinary” might be, I will provide a few examples.  Drivers such as Parker Lindquist, Jackson Beaumont and Johnathan Raymer could be absent from the starting grid.  Previously missing drivers such as Braydon Batunbacal could have shown up.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7029Or perhaps a bearded man in a banana-yellow 240SX coupe could barely qualify and then go on to win the day.  That would really change up the championship.

How funny would it be if that happened?

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Qualifying was a relatively standard affair with Mike Goddard taking the top spot, and Lucas Dourado taking second.  David Wooten put down great runs and qualified third, which unless I am mistaken is his best performance in qualifying so far this season.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6853Brandon Schmidt rounded out the top four by deftly guiding his roaring smoke-machine of a car around the bone-dry track, utilizing all of his 9001 degrees of steering angle to impress the judges.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6686EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7100Displaying a clear lack of professionalism I missed the first few battles, although I did see the second round of the bout between Nate Snyder and Aaron Leavitt that saw the winner of the previous round of Grassroots competition knocked out early.  Both drivers put on a great show but competition is cruel, and Nate Snyder was the one to move on.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7038The first set of competitive runs I was able to properly witness were between Zach Richards and David Wooten.  Both Zach and David either spun or put two tires off during their first set of runs, so the judges called for a One More Time.  The next set of runs were far more consistent; as if a switch had been flipped inside both drivers.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7030Despite his solid performance in qualifying and admirable endurance  displayed in the THREE One More Time battles that followed, Wooten could not match the terrifying consistency of Zach and his yellow machine.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6837EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6869Jesse Hayes and Jeremy O’Harrow were up next.  Although Jesse was clearly more comfortable in his relatively new AE-86 he still had to contend with the Stars and Bars Mustang and it’s formidable pilot.  Unfortunately an epic conflict was not what decided the matchup; Jesse spun his Corolla as he attempted to flick his Toyota up onto the 3/8th’s bank and thusly gifted O’Harrow the win.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7065Following O’Harrow and Hayes into the coliseum were two titans of Grassroots: Mike Goddard in his Fox-Body Mustang and Braydon Batungbacal in his JZ-powered Silvia.  The Mustang lead the first run, and Braydon maintained a healthy but consistent gap behind Mike.  Batungbacal’s lead run was a bit different.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7073As Mike put it after the podium ceremony: “I knew that if I was going to beat Braydon I was going to have to be on his door for the whole run”.

‘On his door’ may have been a bit of an understatement, from the media box it looked as if Goddard could have reached out and opened Braydon’s passenger-side door if he felt so inclined.  Despite this the judges were not able to determine a clear winner and asked for another round.  A request for a chance to change tires from Goddard saw both drivers return to the pits, and while Mike shucked his corded tires in exchange for a fresh set several more drivers squared off against each other.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7149Given the poor quality of my notes from the event and the time that has passed since Round 4, I cannot exactly recall if Lucas Dorado and Ariel Paz were the two drivers to square off while Mike and Braydon changed tires.  Nevertheless, it was a quality battle between the ever-improving Ariel and the razor-sharp Lucas.  The gray S14 of Dorado did move on after Paz spun, but not before Ariel put down some of the better runs I have seen him produce in recent memory.EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7090 EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7095Nate Snyder also knocked out the #4 qualifier Brandon Schmidt after Schmidt spun on one of his runs.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7054 EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6909Qualifying with naught but three points, Zach Richards had turned into some sort of clockwork drifter and found himself lined up next to the burly freedom-machine of Jeremy O’Harrow in the Top 8.  As only one the drivers had a roll cage tandem battles were not possible, but that did not stop either driver from driving the wheels off of their cars.  Richards could not be stopped however, and the Fox Body Mustang fell before the Banana Cannon.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7252Back on track and ready to rumble once again, Mike Goddard and Braydon Batungbacal sent their engines howling around the track.  Goddard emerged victorious and moved on to the Top 4 along with Nate Snyder, Zach Richards and Lucas Dorado.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7188EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7202 EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7196The grim conflict that would decide who would take the top spot at Round 4 got underway with Mike Goddard and Nate Snyder.  As expected the teal, pink and green Silvia lead the snarling Fox-body around the course in stunning fashion.  No clear winner emerged until Nate uncharacteristically put two tires off and knocked himself out.  Such is the way of competitive drifting; consistency is key.  The victory against Nate guaranteed Mike at least second place; who he would be fighting for the top spot would be determined by the next battle.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7176 EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6876One could say that while Mike Goddard was smashing his way through the field, Zach Richards was advancing in the same upwards direction by way of precise and accurate blows.  Having felled several other drivers by turning his already consistent driving style up to eleven, Zach now sat on the starting line beside Lucas Dorado and his menacing slate-grey Silvia.  Seemingly uncowed by his opponent Zach delivered yet another lazer-accurate run and turned the track over to Dorado, who punched a safety barrel with the nose of his car and consigned himself to the battle for third.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7240In a brief but intense battle Lucas edged out Nate for the bottom step on the podium.  Although he would not go home with a trophy, the championship points Snyder accrued put him into third place overall at the end of the day.  Delivering a solid performance at every round so far this year has put Nate right where he needs to be, and it really is only a matter of time before we see Mr. Snyder hoisting a first place trophy over his head.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6829Only two drivers were left on the starting grid, and what an odd pairing it was.  I do not believe I am stepping out of line when I say that Mike Goddard is one of the better drivers competing this year, and although I admittedly was massively excited to see him tear his way to the Top 4 his rise to the top was by no means surprising.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7268Although in hindsight, I suppose that Zach Richard’s performance was also not terribly unusual.  Consistency has been part of Zach’s retinue since he started drifting, so much so that his poor qualifying score was rather uncharacteristic of him.  Biased as I may  be due to my friendship with Zach, I do feel confident in saying that his racing on Sunday was not a fluke or a one-off.  Everything finally clicked.

A single set of runs was all it took for the judges to decide the victor.  Mike and Zach filled each clipping zone to the best of their abilities, but it was the black Mustang that nudged a barrel with it’s nose after coming off of the bank.  That poke was all that it took, and although I was expected an OMT at the time the top 4 drivers were summoned to the podium so I clambered out of the media box and took my place on the ground in front of the stand.EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7276Lucas Dorado received his 3rd-place trophy for triumphing over Nate Snyder, and a clearly excited Lupe Zaragoza asked the waiting crowd if they were ready to find out who got second place.  A resounding ‘YES’ drowned out Zach Richard’s ‘no'; the driver of the Banana Canon apparently having no desire to do anything but go home.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7288Despite Zach’s protests Lupe looked down at the slip of paper in his hand, grabbed the second-place trophy and summoned Mike Goddard to the stage.

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The humble man in the yellow 240SX was called to the stage as the assembled spectators, drivers and media personnel cheered.  This was Zach’s victory, and he earned it fair and square.  He beat every driver that stood before him in glorious combat, making his victory as pure and true as they come.  Good work Zach, you kicked some ass.

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EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7321Mike, Missy and the rest of Mike’s support team clearly wanted that revered top spot on the podium, but first place yet again eluded the man in the Mustang.  All the same his smile on the podium was genuine, and when I spoke to him afterwords he knew exactly why he had lost and had a plan to improve.  It takes a strong individual to be happy with second place, especially when first was so tantalizingly close.

Congratulations to Lucas Dorado, Mike Goddard, Zach Richards and Nate Snyder.  Round 4 of Grassroots was truly a great bit of racing, and Round 5 can not come soon enough.  My most profuse apologies for not delivering quality coverage of every battle, I was too slow to begin taking proper notes and I sincerely apologize for not giving every driver the coverage they deserve.  I am still getting used to the whole concept of covering events as a journalist, and I will do better in the future!

 

 

Keeping it Metal at EVD ProAm Round 3 with Ben Whyte (Driver Blog)

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Round 3 has a lot to be said about it. From low car counts to some great tandem battles it was definitely interesting.

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Started the day with anticipation for how the new power from my new cylinder heads was going to feel on the big bank, and how having less weight was going to effect the handling of the Zombie Queen. The weight difference threw me off more than anything. The power felt awesome but while transitioning it felt like the front suspension was doing weird things. Not to mention I ran into weird under steering issues in practice and got a couple decent looks at the bank wall. I talked to a couple other drivers like Dio Ortiz II and he even went as far as to unhook his front away bar to combat the issue. We changed a couple things I was doing while driving and messed with front tire pressure and we had the setup dialed.

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In the drivers meeting I brought up something that I knew at least one driver had an issue with; tandems in practice. First couple events (myself included) it seemed like people were timid to tandem in practice. This made it hard for some of the higher powered cars to adjust driving styles to compensate for slower cars. So I kinda threw down the gauntlet. I said something to the effect of “I know I’m guilty of it too, but let’s ditch the solo runs in practice. If you have to distance tandem, fine but let’s get 2 cars out there, put on a show.”. Well it worked. I think I only saw a small handful of solo runs and everything else was tandems. Rad. While following Shain Cannon, I realized I may have a double edged sword in my new power. He later said he was on bald tires so he had very little grip but, I was much faster than him on the bank – Ok, so what? Well if I’m trying to stick to fools like glue I need to figure out how to slow down without losing drift. While driving grassroots I got somewhat comfortable left foot braking so I implemented that into the game-plan and it seemed to be effective. As I ran through my first pair of Kingstars, practice ended and we had a short break. Grassroots then got their chance to practice, and they had the track until qualifying. My spotters gave me a few pointers and things to look out for going into qualifying and set me up for success extremely well.

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Going into qualifying, I psyched myself out. It was hot and I get cranky. All of a sudden I got the thought in my head “there’s only 8 cars here. If I don’t qualify that would be f&$@ed up.”. Well shoot. Now I’m sweating it a bit. Not all of practice had gone how I wanted it and I was nervous. Pulled to the line for my first qualifying run, was given the sign to go and started rowing through the gears. Hit fourth, gave the car a small feint and clutch kick and started drift. I know I wasn’t super high on the bank and all I could think in my head was “just get points on the board”. At the end of the bank I started slowing too early and cut in tight so as to completely miss the touch and go zone. Transitioned and filled the second outer zone decent, hit the 2 nose clips and got close to the wall crossed the finish line and could finally breathe. Went back and talked to my guy on the line Jarrid Haase, and Matt (my spotter) had relayed to him I got a 53 for a score. Ok, points down. Calm down Ben. Now it’s go time.

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The whole ride to the track I had been listening to metal (weird, right), so when I pulled to the line I remembered, hey this is drifting this is fun you dummy! So as I got the sign to go for my second run I screamed ” HAIL DESTROYER”, the chorus from a Cancer Bats song, and proceeded to do the longest rolling burnout I could and enter faster than I ever had before. I stayed higher on the bank this run with more angle than ever, filled the touch and go and ripped into the second outer zone with so much speed I thought I was gonna plow through the barrels. I scrubbed just enough so when I got back on power I was right where I needed to be. Nosing in on both of the forward clips, I felt like I was hauling ass. The run was finished with a wall scrape and an extended burnout through the finish line. I was so pumped at that point, I was screaming and punching everything in the car! I pulled into the pits, jumped out of the car yelling and giving high fives to everyone within a 50 foot radius. Even jumped in the back of the truck where Jordan lynch was watching all the action and got a round of high fives from those dudes. Scored a 76 on that run and was tied with Cameron Moore for top qualifier… For like 5 freaking minutes. Aaron day ended up edging me by a point (dick) to take second qualifier and Cameron bettered his first score and ended up with the “pole position” (asshole). Whatever I was stoked. I found my groove and I was ready for battle.

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Got a bye into top eight and was poised to run against Chris Goldie wells. He’s no slouch for sure. Dude can drive so I had to be on point. As I was about to call up my spotter Chris came up to me and said he had bent a tie rod and couldn’t run. I was pissed. I wanna battle. I want to go to war. The fact I couldn’t enter Thunderdome and have only one of us emerge victorious sounded boring. Don’t worry… It gets interesting.

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All of a sudden I see commotion in Chris’s pit and bodies start moving. His girlfriend comes up and says they’re WELDING THE TIE ROD and trying to get out for our runs. Apparently Chris’s buddy had a welder at the track. Chris, his buddy, and the “redneck coalition” (Jesse Hayes and Mike Goddard) proceeded to weld his tie rod back together in the pits and get out with under a minute to spare from their competition timeout. I knew when Jesse and Mike got involved that it would get “fixed” somehow. That’s the type of shit they were bred for. Others were merely shown jerry rigging. They were born into it… Molded by it. I’m not even gonna lie. I was sketched out. I didn’t like the idea of what just happened with them welding it back together, it still looked iffy but if the car can run and drive and the driver wants to run, I can’t back down. I didn’t want an adverse situation where it breaks again and he takes himself out or takes both of us out but I guess that’s part of the risk right? He was in my head but stay strong young warrior cause’ either way, we were In Thunderdome now.

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I led first and laid down an identical run to my qualifying run that netted me 76 points. It felt great. Then we switched. Following him into the bank I was STILL sketched out. I stayed back 3-ish car lengths on the bank. Even so I was still left foot braking to slow the car down while maintaining drift. I felt I kept a consistent gap and the game plan was to keep a consistent gap on the bank then suck up to him in the infield where it’s slower and there’s less stuff that can total a car if the worst happens. Well coming into the infield he was going slower than I was and my trans did not like it when I tried to shift from 4th to 3rd at the lower rpms. I couldn’t find third and ended up parking it behind him. Once I found a gear I hammered it but the damage was done and so was my day. Or so I thought.

One more time!

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I guess we both got zeroes on our chase runs and kudos to the judges for wanting a clear and concise winner. I felt like there was no way he laid down a better lead run (I had a good vantage point) but I was very happy with the decision. Went back to the line and someone said he called 5 minutes AGAIN. I was very cranky at this point and had all but lost my shit. I guess he was changing tires and that’s allowed between battles but just the fact that someone said he had called 5 rattled me even further. At this point I was mad and I just wanted to bury him. My man on the line Jarrid opens the door to the car and says “well his shit apparently works now. Drive through his fucking door!” Don’t have to tell me twice. I laid another beauty lead run down and as far as I could tell Chris was around 3-4 lengths behind me (estimate from rear view mirror where things are closer than they appear) so I felt good but not great about leaving it at that. Set up for the chase, gave him almost no gap on initiation and rode his door hard the whole bank. I think Joe Lin said that I was left foot braking so hard that my front tires were locked up and I was just pushing them on the bank. Rad. Had a slight correction on the bank but maintained drift. Then when we came into power alley it FELT like he dumped even more speed so I grabbed a handful of e-brake and went to downshift into third and I did the same thing. Couldn’t muscle it, couldn’t rev match it into third just had to wait till the transmission was ready to accept that it needed to be in third. By then I had already parked it but I was furious so I hammered it and did my best to catch up and try to scare Chris into making a mistake. He ended up dipping a tire off course and knocking over a barrel but that wasn’t enough to overcome my loss of drift so Chris moved on and that was it for me.

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It was a great day for sure. Gained a lot of knowledge and experience. Talking with the team we know what to do in a future situation where we are following a slower driver and I’m confident we can annihilate anyone in our path. Playfully of course. Unless they want it hard and fast. In which case I would be more than happy to oblige. I think my favorite runs of the day were Cody Ross and Cameron Moore going head to head. Those are two big guns in our series and the way they both drive proved it. It was amazing. I feel Cody breathing down my neck in the standings but I have the coveted “Jackie moon” 4th place spot in the overall standings after 3 events. It’s a battle of attrition but with the support of my team-mates and everyone who comes by and tells me how rad I drive or the car looks or sounds, it makes it worth it. Hell tell me I suck, at least you noticed me doing something. Big thanks to my crew Jarrid Haase, Matt Conley, CJ Wylie and Daryl hall for helping out. A thank you goes out to Kelsey Conley and Jessica Brennan for “heat cycling” the tires in the driveway the night before. Oh, and thanks to my sponsor Justin Nigro of always reckless for babysitting my stickers in the booth of brutality and helping me make $9. Till round 4, keep it metal;

 

Danger Ben

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