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Jun
25

Formula Drift Round 4 | The GAUNTLET

Hi all Juha Rintanen Racing and drift supporters. Our mission this year is to drive the Formula Drift USA Professional drift series rounds four to seven.

Round 4            Wall Speedway – Wall, NJ                                            June 20 – 21
Round 5            Evergreen Speedway – Monroe, WA                          July 18 – 19
Round 6            Texas Motor Speedway – Fort Worth, Texas             September 12 – 13
Round 7            Irwindale Speedway – Irwindale, CA                          October 10 – 11

Round 4 | The GAUNTLET

We sent the car towards New york harbour about 4 weeks ahead and it was estimated to reach NY on Tuesday 10th of June. Our trip started with flights to New york on the following Friday and we planned to make all the final preparations for the car on that weekend.

We brought a front bumper with us in the airplane and we had connecting flight in Paris which successfully managed to lost our precious package. The bumper did eventually arrive next week.

When we got to New york we drove to Philadelphia where our container should arrive with the race car and all of our tools. Our friend and fellow Formula Drift driver and a former Judge of FD Tony Angelo then informed us that the container hasn’t arrived yet and is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. Tony helped us for place to work on the car and as well transport the car to Wall stadium. This pretty much mixed all our plans, but we did collect all kinds of necessary parts needed for the time being.

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On Tuesday the container did arrive around noon and we unloaded the car and all the tools to Tony’s trailer and drove to his garage. We then immediately started to work on the car since there still was things to do before the event. We fitted the new front bumper, attached a lot of new stickers/vinyls on the car, changed the onboard fire extinguisher, changed the new BC Racing suspension, changed new Driveshaftshop.com heavy duty axles added a nozzle for the fire extinguisher near the fuel cell and a few things more needed to be done.

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On Thursday it was the paid practice day for Formula Drift. Tony delivered the car at the track and we immediately asked for a mandatory Tech inspection from the FD officials. We were pretty sure everything was ok, but it wasn’t. We needed to add one bar for the rollcage, lower the rear subframe, cut the rear wing ends smaller and since our car was a bit too light for 255mm tire, we needed to add about 60 lbs of ballast (about 27 kg) even to use 255mm Achilles Radial 123S. Most of the teams use 265mm or 275mm tire, but they have to make the cars even more heavier and we wanted to stay as light as possible. Total weight now With driver and full tank is 2760 lbs (1252 kg).

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So because all of this we were denied of Thursday practice so we started to work on the car. We were the last on the track and also first on Friday morning trying to get in from the gates which were still closed.

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Eventually the gates opened and the work continued. We got the car in Tech 15 minutes before training and we got the green flag. Time for some practice on this crazy track!

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Our Gold club members on the rear window!

We had been talking about taking it carefully for a few laps just to feel the changes in the car and see how the new track was. I accelerated in the first corner and initiated into drift and at that exact moment one of the rear tires debeaded and came off the wheel. We have formerly driven with 265 or 275mm tire with these wheels so we figured the 11″ wheel was too wide for 255mm tire running relatively low air pressures.

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We then added pressure on the rear tires and it was time for another go. I drove behind another car and I left a safe gap so I could just practice on my own. The moment I initiated I felt how grippy the rear end was. I floored the gas to stay in drift, but in a few seconds I was already closing the gap with the lead driver. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but maybe I lost my focus on the track while realizing the gap was getting shorter and the back of the car touched the Wall and then threw the front end also into the rails. It was a pretty drastic moment in my mind because we had been talking about this that we can’t let it happen on first runs but I still did.

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Car was transported to pits, clock was ticking and the work begun. There were only 1 hour of practice so we knew it was over for us, but we still had time for the qualifying. Damage that didn’t look so bad was worse than we thought, gladly we brought a lot of spares! We changed some Wisefab suspension arms, steering rack and straightened the Forge intercooler ends. We were the first car to qualify and we had to be there in time or we missed it and sadly we did. This meant we had only one qualification run to get enough points to be in the TOP32 of all 50+ drivers. They all had practiced on thursday and friday and we had ZERO full laps on the circuit. It would be a miracle if I could pull this off. A lot of the other FD drivers and their crew were amazed that we were even trying to fix the car, but dispite that our team worked hard and we got the front end back together and aligned approximately right with tape measures.

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Time for our only qualifying lap. I tried to concentrate not to get zero points under no circumstances and I couldn’t crash, but I still had to push it to be able to be in TOP32. The car didn’t yet feel the same it was before and what I had was a good run, but a bit too safe for TOP32. The Level in FD is high and you really need to stand out if you want to compete in the race. We just had no practice at all, crazy track and all this misfortune for us during the week. 57 points out of 100 and barely out of the TOP32 bracket. Our race here was done.

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On Saturday we arrived at the track, it was still competition day and time for the fans. The event itself was Very entertaining. All tickets were sold out so the venue had massive amount of people stacked into it. During the pauses the crowd walked the pits and we presented our European car, sponsors and the team for them in the best manner. We had also made small posters for the fans for the autograph session and we made a lot of new friends and contacts during the event! It seems people really liked what we were doing and they treated us well.

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The race itself was a spectacle. Weather and the event was very crowd pleasing and everyone was cheering for the drivers as they fought their way ahead in the ladder. The race was eventually won by Fredric Aasbo, who has driven in FD about 5 years already and this was his first win ever.

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After the race we started packing the cars to a huge trailer which was towed by a Dodge Ram. Nothing like that can’t be seen in Europe as the trailer was almost the length of a full sized Semitrailer in Europe! Our help for the rest of the competitions goes by the name Brandon Wicknick and he is a Formula Drift rookie as well. Trailer ate both of our cars, all our tires, wheels and tools and also some other merchandise.

We were probably the last to left the track again, maybe around midnight but we still went to eat and talk our season plans together at the nearby diner.

Overall dispite of our bad luck, we had made a lot of new acquaintances, contacts and friends. Our new buddy Brandon will help us align the car properly while we are away for the next competition. We saw how the FD event runs and now it is much more easier to head for Seattle and really show what we do best. Time to fly back home.

Thank You for supporting us,
over and out,

The Flying Finn
-Juha Rintanen

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