Formula Drift Las Vegas as far as controversy goes was pretty light if you compare it against other rounds this season like Wall Speedway. Tony Brakohiapa doesn’t agree with this lack luster of controversy if you read his eBay motors blog post on the weekend. Most of my personal memories of this car/the team this weekend is the engine laying all over the pits and I couldn’t even recall a single run the car actually made through the race weekend. Apparently he did attempt to qualify and failed to make the Top 32. Below in the block quote is what Tony reported on the race and his results. Read his review of the race and let us know what you think!
My last practice run would prove be near fatal (for the car, not me). As I’m finishing my run I notice an immediate loss in power. I look at all my gauges. Everything reads normal. I fear it’s the supercharger cog belt, yet again. I limp the eBay Motors Mustang back to our pit. The cog belt is intact and still attached! It’s in fact the cog pulley at the bottom of the engine that’s bolted to the crank pulley that has broken all six studs off! We were all scratching our heads on this one! No one had ever seen a break like this before! Certainly a result of pushing 1,000 HP and eventually finding a weakness on the engine. The good thing was the internals of the engine were fine. With some time and hardware, a short-term fix could get me through qualifying.
My crew finds new bolts for the crank pulley. Though we can only use three bolts instead of the six due to some broken studs being difficult to extract. The guys feel it’s just strong enough to get me one, maybe two qualifying runs. We were already making preparations for a more permanent fix once qualifying was over.
I line up for my first run. I enter in 4th gear, come in with good speed and angle, hit my clipping points, and put off some good smoke on the infield. Just as I’m about to finish my run, I notice something let go on the engine. My power is reduced, but enough to let me finish off the last corner. I score a surprisingly low 68.
The short-term fix was extremely short-term. I don’t think anyone even noticed I broke on my run because it was near the very end. I jump on my radio and tell the guys we have a problem and meet at the pit! I pull in the pit, the crew has “that look” on their face as they see the temporary bolts did not hold. The question now was, will it get fixed in time for a second qualifying run. The short answer…no! The damage was too great this time around, but we did have time to fix it through the night and next morning…if I qualified.
Nonetheless, The crew pushes to fix the car to try and get me a second qualifying run. I would undoubtedly score better with a second qual run helping secure my place for Top 32. While they are doing that, I am watching the other drivers qualify. I’m keeping tabs on scores and how good the runs are to see where I will end up. My second run is about to come up but I’m still standing in the spotters stand. I gesture to Jarod the M.C. that my crew is working on my car, that it’s still broken and I won’t make a second run.
Qualifying was over and I’d been bumped from Top 32 After seeing a fair amount of drivers struggle to put in good qualifying runs, I’m confused as to their scores being noticeable higher then mine given all their corrections. Now, I’m not saying my run was perfect. I could have been a bit closer to the last outer clipping point and my line was a little shallow entering the infield portion. It felt (as other people watching remarked and after looking at the video replay) like a mid-to high 70’s run. More than enough to qualify for Top 32.
The team and myself approach the judges as to their justification of my score relative to other drivers. We ask to compare my run with other drivers via video playback. The judges said they would be happy to review my score with us, but they couldn’t change my score since it was already locked in.
We select a particular drivers’ run that we felt was similar to my run, but actually made more corrections, but still scored 12 points higher. After looking at both runs over and over and getting some commentary from one judge as to my line being a bit off, there was no discernable difference that warranted a 12 point advantage to the other driver. There was a remark from another judge about a “major correction” during my run. After video playback, no judge could point out said major correction.
After the “review” was over we thanked the judges for their time and walked back to our pit. There wasn’t anything else we could do, but our point had been made. We felt the score was low given other drivers very similar yet higher scored runs.
We hope the professional and diplomatic process in which we approached the judges and reviewed the qualifying runs will somehow improve their “in the moment” judging. Although time intensive, one suggestion could be using the instant replay resources they have to warrant a more comprehensive review of qualifying runs before final scores are given.