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Better late then never, I suppose… here’s a recap and some photos from the Formula D qualifier at Gulf Greyhound Park in Houston, TX.

Three events… Three days… Summed up: pure mayhem. The FD qualifier was a mess. Everyone was ripping it on the practice day prior to the qualifying event. There was a lot of speculation as to who was going to walk away with a license. It was looking really good for a lot of people.

THEN… it rained, turned all the dirt and sand in the lot to mud… and everyone turned on suck-mode… including myself. If it had rained, and continued raining, circumstances would have been different. But the rain had time to dry… slightly. So the track surface went from mud, to wet, to dry, to wet, to mud again – and if you hit that last patch of mud, you would completely wash off course.

I felt like I was actually running decent considering the situation… then qualifying started. I NEVER have issues with understeer. NEVER. NEVER EVER. I hadn’t understeered the entire weekend. Then by some stroke of magic (or lack thereof), I understeered three out of four runs… IN A ROW. I didn’t feel good about it at all. I knew I wouldn’t be getting a license. The thought of not getting a license didn’t bother me at all… but not quite understanding where my understeer issues came from did. I’ve since deduced that it was a combination of factors, such as tyres from Irwindale on the front (Dunlop left me high and dry on tyres) – and they moved the course in to help avoid the muddy-puddled area… which played a significant role in changing the track surface.

They only gave one FD license… To Quoc Luy in his satin black 13 hatch. A provisional license was given for the first three events to Wes Hamachi the green Garage 112 hachi. Two invites were given to the qualifier in San Diego. One to “Hachi Bill” Sherman from No Ants… And the other invite to me.

rnAfter the announcement was made we all went back out for an amazing session filled with tandem madness. It was sooo much fun. Once the pressure was taken out of the equation, and it dried up a little… People were ripping it. It was an AWESOME session!

http://www.driftday.com/fdtxqualifier_results.htm

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This trip set forth with me, my iPod, and the open roads of this nation… towing the e46 solo-style across America’s interstate highways from right coast to left and back again. Three twelve-hour days of blaring heavy metal across the continent, sketched out truck stops, drive-thru windows, and rest stops, and 2400 miles later… I came to rest in Burbank, CA – about 10 hours before the Formula D Media day.

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Irwindale Speedway was the one track I was scared of all season. I think just about everyone I know has wrecked there – so that was always in the back of my mind. Right off the bat, I realized my car wasn’t prepared to handle the track layout. Beyond underpowered, and still lacking the right suspension setup… I couldn’t link the track right all day. I scored another flat tyre… this time after six runs (versus two in Chicago). My torque wrench accidentally went home with Dan after Chicago… so I was stranded for a little while without a way to change my wheels – everyone was down on track… so there was nobody to ask. :/ Towards the end of the day, I started to make sense of things… although I wanted to hold my angle too long coming out of the bank which would cause me to kickback and spin. I just couldn’t manage to link the section from the bank to the infeild. I’ve never initiated so fast. It definitely took some getting use to.

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Qualifying the following day went well. The caliber of driving put on by everyone there was about two steps above top-notch. You could really tell that it was the home track to many of them. It was impressive to watch, and inspiring to be driving with these madmen. I knew my chance of making the main event was slim-to-none… so as long as I rocked that BMW as hard as I could and have the time of my life in the process, I would be happy. Those goals I hit head on. I gave that li’l car as much hell as she could handle, and walked away very pleased with my runs… so no complaints.

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Post qualifying, at the end of the day… I just sorta stood track-side staring at the infamous “House of Drift”. I was just plain awestruck at what I had just done. I dove head-first into the American professional drift series… and pulled it off. How I pulled it off, I still don’t really know.

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I once had this dream, and standing there trackside at dusk… I realized that it wasn’t a dream anymore. It was right in front of me… all around me… encompassing everything I do. That dream was right in the palm of my hand… and it never felt better.

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Severely underpowered, unprepared, and unrested… Round four proved to be a bit of a challenge… and a small wake-up call. I somehow managed to qualify Top 32 in both Atlanta and Houston… but was definitely not the case in Sonoma.

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Aside from the general unprepped aspects of the car as far as weight reduction, chassis rigidity, etc… ol’ grrrl just didn’t have enough steam to connect the huge sweeper coming out of the first clipping point towards the second. Something didn’t feel right with the car all day. It was like she was running on half the cylinders… because it definitely felt like half the power. For some time after the event, I was convinced the motor was going… but after I got back to Atlanta… she ran just fine. Altitude is the only thing I can accredit it to… and even that’s a stretch.

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I struggled immensely during practice with massive amounts of understeer… but managed to lay down qualifying runs that I was pleased with considering the circumstances. The first of the two runs I played it safe… second gear the entire time. The final qualifying run I came barrelling in third, but scrubbed too much speed heading towards the second clipping point. A functioning e-brake would have been great. I knew I wasn’t going qualified for the main event. Getting to Sonoma four hours before I had to be on track after a week of towing the e46 across the nation didn’t help. Regardless… it was a blast!!! It was absolutely beautiful up there… albiet a bit windy at sunset.

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Joeyredmond.com and I successfully gave the nation a black eye after towing from right coast and back… stabbing the nation’s highways with a knife made of anarchy and mayhem. I got myself into a heap of trouble in Vegas after my Ferrari Drift Demo on the strip. I’ll post more later once I get clearance from my lawyer on it. Things got ugly… and I can’t even post to video until things cool down. It’s safe to say Vegas got owned by me and Joey. >:D

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“Can someone please find an air-conditioned parking lot for next year???”

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The first drift event I entered: Drift Showoff/D1 Driver Search – Miami, still reigns in my book as the hottest (in temperature) event I’ve driven in to date. It was so hot, that I physically passed out in my car overwhelmed by the heat. While the Formula D: Houston was cooler on a thermometer… add Texas humidity and a triple-layered Nomex race-suit, and the mercury just shot through the glass.

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Weather aside… this event was RAD! We more-or-less slid at the Astrodome… which was kinda cool. We were not on a track this time… but in a giant parking lot rumored to have laid dormant for the past two years – so it was drrrty drrrty durrrrty. The first car ran off with a rooster tail following resembling that of a WRC car rallying across the desert.

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There were a lot of cars damaged at this event. An R33 Skyline hit a wall head-on at about 65 mph… totalling it. It was awful. Five eight-sixes (Taka’s twice) were snagged by the wall. Taka, tipped his on it’s side Friday during practice. I was soo glad he was alright. They spent all Friday night fixing the car, for Taka to come back and qualify SECOND on Saturday!!! Words can’t even describe how awesome it was to see him kick ass out there and qualify so well. That man is a machine!!! Fellow Drift Day competitor, Yoshie qualified Top 32, making her the first female to do so!

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The course surface was concrete, and my normal tyre pressures didn’t want to work well. After struggling through practice with a clean run here, and a shite run there… I managed to lay it all down during qualifying with two clean-ass runs, landing me the 10th position out of 40… advancing me to the main event.

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Saturday felt hotter than Friday. There was a moment… like Miami – where I physically passed out in the truck because of the heat. I had decent sleep the night before – but my body just felt exhausted. I ran decent all day during practice… but couldn’t quite get the car to do what I wanted to entering the first corner. All weekend long I was barrelling down in third, clutch kicking, and letting the momentum carry me where I needed to be for the first clipping point (heavily judged corner… entry speed being critical). For some reason… the clutch kicks weren’t snapping the car loose right. My final qualifying run it finally snapped… HARD, throwing me waaay more angle than I was expecting. I hit the first clipping point right on… but I think that hard snap threw my mindset off, and right after that apex… post kick-back: I spun.

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Either way… I went out there, kicked some ass… had an effing BLAST, so I have no complaints. I got to meet the rest of Dunlop drivers. Tanner helped me solve my tyre pressure woes, and the general consensus from everyone is: I NEED MORE POWER!!! We’ll see. :) Between clutches, transmissions, and replacing $8000 worth of damaged suspension components… I think my turbo fund is severely lacking. But who knows. ;)

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I pulled the e46 on a trailer following Dan & Tracy pulling the Batlground s14. Besides occasional trailer sway… that wasn’t as bad as I thought. JOEYREDMOND.com rode all the way out there and back with me… making sure I didn’t pass out trying to drive there on 40 minutes of sleep. That kool kat is going to tackle the country with me as we make the trek to Round 4 in Sonoma the first week of July. THAT is going to be an insane road trip!

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This thumbs up means: I just lost five pounds sweating away in this heat!rn1.jpgSponsor roll call, please!!!rn2.jpg3.jpg41.jpg5.jpg6.jpg7.jpgChris caught up to me FAST!rn8.jpgPlease turn the A/C on outside… PLEASE!rn9.jpgDriverrrrz meeting..The only two Andys running in the series. :)rn11.jpgTaka tipped on Friday, fixed overnight & qualified 2nd!!!rn12.jpgTaka hitting again on Saturday. :(rn13.jpg16.jpgrn15.jpg14.jpgAhem… Harroooo. :)rn17.jpgThe Slide to Side Homicide Tour continues… don’t get shot. :P

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