Formula Drift Rookies – New Jersey

It’s been a while since we caught up with the 2013 Formula Drift rookies and updated our readers with their trials and progress. We skipped Palm Beach in the name of saving a lil’ cash, but we were lucky enough to have Nelson Ayra and Melissa Yeo slip into Jersey to capture the rookies doing their thing. This weekend, the rookies roll into Evergreen Speedway near Seattle, WA, so we figured this would be the perfect time to post an article to strike up interest and support for these upcoming drivers!

fd-(24)It is smack dab in the middle of the Formula Drift season. Rookies are starting to get a hang of how Formula Drift works, what breaks on the car and how often things do, and cars are getting dialed in more competitively as the teams learn what works and what doesn’t through trial and error over the first couple of rounds. Read on to learn what the experience has been for the rookies that made it to new Jersey, directly from the guys themselves using our ultra top secret ground breaking communications.

Brandon Wicknick
fd-(31)“After having crashed in Palm Beach, we knew what had to be done. There was no reason to be discouraged, only motivated. We had enough time to get the car fixed and ready for New Jersey. We found Eric Gomez in Orlando who was willing to help us re-tube the rear end. After a few days of work and a few new parts ordered, we packed up and headed north to Pennsylvania to kill some time at a friends house. He let us use his shop to put the final touches on the car. In the mean time, not having been home in over a month since we departed Salt Lake destined for Atlanta, we were running low on energy and felt the toll it was taking being out of our element for so long. Remembering the commitment I made to myself and my sponsors was enough to keep me pushing to get it done.”

IMG_0505“Since our adventure in Atlanta, we had encountered some problems with our trailer. I decided it would be best to replace it. I found a great deal on a trailer in Kalamzoo, Michigan. We drove the 6 hours each way from Pittsburgh and picked it up. We got the car all put together and loaded up our new trailer to head to New Jersey.”

IMG_2903“Other than a new fuel cell, the car was unchanged. As I set out to practice, my main focus was to learn the course. While I am not new to drifting on a banked oval, there are a lot of unique characteristics to the track at New Jersey. We were consuming tires way faster than we had anticipated, which meant we had to scale back on the number of practice runs we could do. My last practice run before qualifying, I became aware of an engine noise which soon became apparent was an engine knock from the rotating assembly. We decided the only option was to run it and try to put down a qualifying score. With so much time and money invested at this point, the only thing to do is whatever it takes to perform, and that meant driving with engine damage and hope it holds together.”

IMG_1625“We got some special Lucas Oil products from Joon Maeng and mixed it with 80w90 gear oil, and filled the crank case with our special cocktail mix. I was able to put down a decent score on my first run landing in top 32. However on the second round of qualifying runs, I was slowly getting bumped out. I knew I needed to improve on my original score. I went hard on my second run, but by the end of the run the car lost power and I wasn’t able to complete the course. When all was said and done, I was bumped to 36th place, which wasn’t good enough to get in the show.”

fd-(1)“I am proud of my team for working hard to get the car ready. I want to thank my sponsors and all who helped us get the car done after the crash in Palm Beach. We have a new engine ready to go for the next round at Evergreen Speedway. If everything goes well, we hope to be able to show what we are capable of, being a low budget privateer team. Thanks to all our fans and followers.”

Marc Landreville
IMG_4961“We made 8 hours of traveling Wednesday night from Montreal to Wall. Practice went very well Thursday, we made a couple of changes in the tire pressure to get more speed/angle/better line.”

fd-(28)“Friday we have done multiple runs, I was getting more confident with the track. We start doing tandem run and getting more proximity to other drivers, then the qualification begins. I was getting pretty confident but I put 1 tires outside on my first run and made like 67 score. On my second run I did the same thing as my first run but without putting one tires out and a little bit more angle. I made 79.6 score that would have put me 7 just behind Daigo Saito if the news rules of top 16 lock in, so I qualified 18 place. I was hoping to be in the top 10, but I was pretty happy considering it was my first FD event.”

fd-(17)“Saturday we start out with a couple of practice sessions to see if the car was good, and boom the engine stop working. We get back to the pit and found that my crank sensor was loose. We fix it and it was time for top 32. I was against Kyle Mohan in his rotary rx8. I made two clean passes and I straight like 3-4 times so I got the win.”

IMG_4514“Next I was against Tyler McQuarrie in his Chevrolet Camaro. We leave the line. I was pretty close (around 1/2 car length) and the when he enters the first inner bank, I heard him banging the rev limiter and then slowing drastically. I couldn’t avoid the crash, so I hit him. Next it was time for me to lead. I made a clean pass and he didn’t even drift, so I was thinking it will be a easy win, but the judges give us a one more time… Then he takes his 5min to change his diff ratio and we were ready for one more battle. I leave the line behind him and I initiate right behind him, but just when we enter the first inner bank, my car loose a lot of power and then I straight.”

IMG_4378“We take 5min to fix the car. I was sure that I blew one of my piping couplers, but it was all good. The 5min was over and we cannot find the problem, so I have done my lead run with no power at all. I initiate, barely make it to the first inner bank then I put my second gear, and bang the rev limiter till the finish line. We loose the one more time and the weekend was over. We find out 3 days later that my wastegate was stuck open… I didn’t have any boost. Considering the fact that it was our first FD event, Top 16 was pretty good, but a Top 8 or a Top 4 would have been better. Next time we will be more prepared with a better car. See you at Irwindale :)”

Mats Baribeau
Here is a video from Formula Drift New Jersey‬ made by Brian Casse recapping the first half of my rookie season in Formula Drift piloting the Gold in the Net : Drift Team‪ JZX90 Mark II. (video kicks in at 0:10)

IMG_0907“Leading up to NJ, we signed a deal with Clutch Masters. They were excited to partner up with us especially after our 5th place qualifying in Palm Beach. We are using their 850 series twin plate clutch and it is absolutely amazing.”

IMG_2129“We got to NJ a day early to inspect our clutch and after two events. It was still basically brand new! Amazing how much abuse these clutches can handle. While we were bleeding our clutch system Wednesday night, we noticed the clutch slave was leaking. We were lucky that the Falken team had a rebuild kit in their trailer that they let us use. Once we got everything back in, we went out for practice. Being our first time driving at Wall Speedway, we tried to learn the track as much as possible during Thursday.”

IMG_1106“Friday we were excited to get out on track for our practice session and then qualifying. We only got a couple practice laps in until we had a cam angle sensor wire melt off. By the time we found the issue and fixed it, practice was over and we had to go straight into qualifying. While I was warming up the tires before our first qualifying lap, I felt power levels were down. We had no choice but to try and qualify as it was as we had no time. During the qualifying lap, I could hardly spin the tires as I was only seeing 5 lbs of boost compared to the 20+ that we normally have. As soon as we get back into our pits, we noticed that our waste gate was seized in the open position. There was nothing we could do to fix it in the time frame we had before our second qualifying lap. Unfortunately that would mark the end of our weekend. Not the way we wanted it to end.”

IMG_1628“We’ve now been working hard on the car to ensure it is 100% reliable for Texas and Irwindale rounds. We have a brand new engine harness coming in from the guys at Wiring Specialties who have been nothing short of awesome to work with. Stay tuned for more updates between us and Wiring Specialties.”

Joshua Steele
fd-(29)“NJ, what can I say, the town we stayed in was awesome. The surf was good, ate at this killer burrito place with Powers crew, and the hotel we stayed in was an ex mental hospital re-done into a nice hotel that looked like something out of The Shining!!! REDRUM REDRUM REDRUM!!! Ok Ok Ok, back to what we are here for!”

IMG_3010“Practice was good. We looked forward to this event cause I like banked tracks (we have one in Houston) that’s pretty similar to Wall. Soooooo dooms day rolls around (qualifying) and we feel good, car is good, everything is working! We take our 1st run, good on the bank, but then straighten for a split second coming of the bank. The rest of the track went great, BUT fat ZERO was served fresh and HOT on that one! The transition of the bank to the flat is the difference from making the first clip or not… You basically cant be in drift coming off the bank, you have to be in transition from one drift to the next while your right in that groove from bank to flat. Its kinda weird, but no big deal… So 2nd run went good, about 3 feet from the “DEATH RAIL” as we called it, on on the clips, in the zones, etc, walked away with a score of 77.4! A very respectable score to say the least, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, wasn’t enough??? Our crew keeps asking our selves how? Basically when you got 45 drivers and 32 of them want to qualify, with the new knock out format it gets pretty nuts! Its weird how Top 16 you’ll get lower scores then 17-32 position on 2nd runs… So making top 32 for us then getting knocked out was kinda a blow. The shitty thing is, that we are giving it our all, you don’t drive like a bitch and score a 77.4! It just goes to show how competitive FD really is, its amazing how the courses are set up to 100% push you and your car. There are no “laid back” easy runs in FD!!!”

IMG_0311“But other then that, the weekend actually turned out great! We shot an ad for Chase Bays on the way there, to be published in S3 Mag. We landed a KILLER new tire sponsor, Achilles Radial, and made new friends and TONS & TONS of fans. Chicks anddddddd dudes flat out dig the car!!! And, the creation of the “Nevrslo Drift Bear” was showcased at THE WALL!!! Coming soon to S3 Magazine! Wanna thank my crew, Jory, Stephen, Belle for hooking up our radios, Mishimoto, Chase Bays, Achilles Radial, BC Racing, Rays, Matco Tools, Kareless Clothing, and the fans, there would be no FD with out you guys!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE YA!!!”

Nate Hamilton
IMG_4035“Leading up to New Jersey, we felt better than we have all season. The car worked great in Florida, and we had confidence it would carry over to New Jersey. After a long truck ride, we arrived at the track!”

“This is me walking the track and just letting everyone know how we felt before/during practice.”

IMG_1451“Qualifying and the main event, we placed 32nd qualifier which would put us up against JTP. I felt that this for us was a win/win. We knew we would learn a lot from my first head to head battle with such a great driver. My team waited patiently as they ask us to pull to the line. I begin to hit my switches and the battery was dead. My crew struggled to get it started. Finally with the help of Chelsea Denofa and a few other drivers, they pushed me to the line and the car started.”

fd-(7)“The battle, we pulled to the line and we are hyped. First ever Top 32 battle. I followed first and things went great! Then I lead and I felt like I laid down a great lead run. What I didn’t know was that my hatch hadn’t been locked down after the confusion with the battery. This was an automatic zero for us and would be the end of our weekend.”

We want to thank every Formula Drift driver, pro and rookie alike, for all the support they have given us so far this year. We wish every supporter immense success heading toward the end of the FD season. Also, a BIG thank you to the rookies who take time out to write to us so we can share with our readers! Also, thank you to Nelson Ayra and Melissa Yeo for bringing this great photographic content home from the track! End of this article. What? You want more? Just head over to Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington this weekend for Formula Drift Round 5, “Throwdown”.

If you are in SoCal, join us at our 3rd Formula Drift Livestream Party at So Cal Pizza in the city of Norwalk!
fdlivestreamround5See you there!!!

1 thought on “Formula Drift Rookies – New Jersey

  1. Man cool article. Hope we can see more articles like this with some of the other rookies later in the year. 🙂 But man…… I swear they judge some of the rookie’s a “Little” harder than some of the pro’s. I’ve seen some rookie’s lay down some SICK runs. And get scores that don’t reflect how good the runs were, like low scores.

    Meh… I wish them ALL luck in there up and coming and future events. ^_^

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