Good luck to Dean Kearney for 2011!

March 30th, 2011

Well, most of you know I had a terrible year in the Viper. Combination of things at work, including my driving never really getting adapted for drifting at the top level.

Great news is that the car will remain in the series, thanks to Dean Kearney hooking up with Samuel and bringing his sponsors on to run the car – great news as I think it’s well worked out now and with the latest upgrades should be awesome. Dean’s got a lot of talent and I’m sure he’ll put it to good use with a great team.

I’ll be doing some rallycross and X Games, and hopefully some rallying, but I’ve been really lucky to be busy with some TV work, so I’m having to race a bit less in 2011. I’d love to come back to FormulaD at some point – I feel like I have unfinished business and that I was on the verge of getting it right – but I don’t know when that will be.

Thanks to all the supporters and especially the people at races who offered support and advice through 2010. And best of luck to SHR, Samuel, Stina, Brad, and of course Dean as they take on 2011!

Thanks also to Wrecked for this forum, and for providing probably the best up-to-the minute reportage of any race series I’ve been in.

And congratulations to the FD administration for running as tight and professional a race series as any.


OK. So wide open then

October 7th, 2010

I’m not going to lie. It’s been a hard year. There have been some technical difficulties, and drifting (as I’ve always known) is not easy. But now we’re at the last goddam round. Crazy thing is, I can win the North American Rally Championship. I can podium at any rally. I can medal at the X Games. I can even give the gears to the Europeans on high-spec Rallycross. But drift has eluded me so far.

No longer. We have new engine management in the Viper, thanks to AEM. The nose is stiffened. OK, it’s not a car for high-angle work, but it does have good torque, and let’s face it, I should be able to make it work. So this weekend at Irwindale, here’s the strategy:

Flat out, flat out, flat out, flat out…

It’s always hard driving someone else’s car. But we’re racers here, and the cars are tools. So let’s see what happens. As Tony Angelo once told me: “the cool thing about drifting is drifting.”

That’s it. Let’s destroy some BFGs.


New Jersey – Qualified

June 4th, 2010

Made the show in Jersey! Better than that, I don’t look like a total idiot any more. I’m not saying I’m Final Four material yet, just that I’m looking better. Thanks to everyone who came up to congratulate me – you might not know how much that means.

Although I’m really happy, I feel really badly for the guys who didn’t make the show, because I know how that feels tonight. Strong drivers like Mordaunt, Maeng, and Aono, and great grassroots guys like Robinson, are licking their wounds tonight.

But I made the show! Thanks to Samuel Hubinette and the whole team for making it work, and having faith in me. NOS Energy, too, for letting me be here instead of the rally in Pennsylvania.

Now the downside: I have Tuerck in the first round. He’s a bit good, especially here. But anything can happen, and I’ll be wide open trying to give him a run for his money tomorrow.

Funny – I remember Dave Mirra, then a relative rookie to rally, drawing against me in a rounda at X Games a couple of years ago. He came up to me and said “go easy on me, eh?” Yeah, well, sure enough, we had him by several seconds by midcourse, but then I went and flipped end-over-end. Needless to say, Dave won.

So tomorrow, maybe I’ll tell Tuerck to go easy on me, eh?


New Jersey – hitting the bank

June 4th, 2010

Wow – every one of the drift events and venues has it’s own challenges. Just as I was getting used to Atlanta – 90mph entry, wide smooth track, grass runouts, lots of fun – we come to New Jersey and have a small oval with a banked 60mph first corner, then a sharp transition into infield, then some major whoops through the transition in midfield. Actually more like rallying!

Took me a lot of runs to get the bank right. Could still be a little higher, but at least I’m on the right line. Thanks to the other competitor who told me to get back in the throttle a little earlier. Always something to learn.

And Samuel Hubinette Racing and crew chief Brad Manka are working hard to trim the car to suit me better. So now I have twin rear calipers with a set devoted to the handbrake. This is really good, since I kept locking the handbrake on by using the footbrake and handbrake at the same time. Not actually the feedback problem that a lot of people feel and that we actually get in our rally cars, but actually fully locked on, have to pump it to unlock. Caused one of my spins in Long Beach. So the good thing is that on the infield right-hander here at New Jersey I can slow the car down a little after the left flick with the footbrake, then breathe on the handbrake to increase the angle and skate the car out to the white line.

Every corner and every event I get a little better. Wish me luck here.


OK, NOW I’m ready…

April 16th, 2010


I sucked at Long Beach. Spun in both qualifiers. I had one good pass in practice, but frankly it was lucky. Corner 10 is insanely long, and you have to go in much faster than you think. It’s an exercise in commitment.

I like that. This is a really challenging motorsport. Today I walked through the pits at the Long Beach GP where we’re doing Team Drift, talked to a few people, walked the track a bit with Ron Fellows, and talked with him about the drifting vs. gripping race. He said we’re more likely to be in the wall, and I think it’s true. Racing is racing, but drifting is more on the extreme edge of motorsport. I like that.

So, the Viper is a handful. Not really an easy car. For one thing, you sit really far back, so you think you’re a hero, way sideways, and then you see the video, and you suck.

Also the car wants to grip, it’s a racecar at its core. So although it’s got great power, KEEPING it sideways is tough. On the one hand, sitting so far back it’s tough to feel that point where it’s going to come around and spin. On the other, even if you’re in a pretty good drift, staying wide open in third will still eventually straighten out. It’s a tough edge to ride.

So I spent the day at Irwindale yesterday (THANKS guys). Feel MUCH better in the car now, basically before this I had only a half day seat time, and never even in third gear. now I’m much more comfortable, and can feel that point where the car has gone too far.

Also Sam came out and helped me with a few new techniques I had never used in rally. I set up a long decreasing-radius corner, and had Sam drive the car into it.

Wow! I’d never thought of that. Clutch in, riding out the drift, slowing by natural action of the slide, downshift, pick up the drift again on the apex and smoke out of it. Spent the rest of the day working on that.

Then tried breathing on the brakes, clutch in, in full drift. Tightens the line a lot!

Next have to work on left-foot braking to change angle, but the car has huge rear bias that I’m gong to have to work on.

Still, I’m getting to grips with it.

Thanks to Brad, Sam and Stina of course, all the guys at ES, and Rhys for getting what crossing over from rally is like. Letting go of the wheel? About the most unnatural thing in the world for me. In a rally car you’d be killed. But here, it’s really necessary.

And for me, that’s the bottom line. This is an awesome opportunity to make racing fresh again. Learn new skills, master new challenges, get good all over again. It’ll be a while before I get to the same level in drift that I’ve gotten to in rally.

But I will.



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