So I competed in the 626Drift TopGun Showdown on December 6th, 2008. There were major sponsors there, such as D-MAX USA (who is already sponsoring the team), Blitz USA, Discount Tire Center, Clutch Kits.net, and Sonic Motor.
A lot of tension could be felt in the pits that day. The driver’s meeting was interesting. Quoc Ly and Justin Pawlak were there to judge the competition that day.
I’ve competed in 626Drift Competitions before, but they were small “in-house” contests. This was the real deal. Drivers from Las Vegas, San Diego, and Los Angeles were here to compete for a real cash prize and some sponsorships. The friendly vibe amongst drivers seemed to have disappeared.
8am was time for practice. It was my first time on the track with my car in quite a while. Before, I had stayed off because of the lack of power steering, a decent running motor, and a good alignment. I finally had a somewhat drivable car, and these practice runs would be my first test runs with the new set-up. I could tell the car wasn’t reacting consistently to certain things, but it would have to work.
As luck would have it, within the first ten runs I bent a tie rod. That would conclude practice for the day. Sweet. My chances of qualifying for Top 16 had just been reduced by a longshot. There were some amazing drivers I would have to go up against, such as Mike Essa, Jeff Jones, Mark Fernandez, John Chow. I did what I could to get a new tie rod on the car before qualifying was up.
As I changed my tie rod, I watched the first cars qualify. I was on a very limited amount of time to get this stupid car back on the track. Bernard from D-MAX came to help me with the operation, as well as the on-the-spot alignment.
I got the car back on the track in time to be the last car to attempt at qualifying. I would have to trust my shitty alignment to get me to the next round. First run, I came in 3rd gear to the first clipping point, kicked the clutch, spun in the transition to the ring. Sweet. Second run looked good. At least, I thought so until I spun. Again. I was beginning to think it would be over before it began. Thankfully, I did a nice, clean run on my third attempt.
If you look at my bumper, you can see where I clipped one of the clipping points very nicely.
Onto the second driver’s meeting. Announcing the qualified. “No way in hell I made it in,” I told Cody Sarem, my fellow teammate. “Me niether,” he replied. We stood attentively around Jackson and the billboard which would hold our fate: who qualified, and who didn’t. It would also show, for those who qualified, who would go up against who.
Jackson revealed the board. Everyone scanned it as if it were the roster for the high school football team, showing who had made the team and who hadn’t made the cut. I frantically looked for my name. 1st? Of course not, keep scrolling. 7th, no. 11th, no. 13th, no. 14th was Cody. Good job, Buddy. I thought I hadn’t made it, until I spotted my name, under 16. I had qualified! Sure, it may have been last place, but holy hell, I made it! I would get an opportunity. Who was I paired with? Mike Porter, also known as “Mike FC”.
Time for practice again. We would get a 2-hour practice session before the Top 16 battles. During this time would also be lunch, but forget that, I needed to get used to my car before throwing myself sideways door-to-door with another car. I was able to compensate for the car’s will to grip hard during a left-hand drift, while wanting to spin very easily during a right-hand drift. By flooring it in 3rd during initiation, then early downshifting into 2nd, I could maintain fair angle into the first corner. I would then have to slam on the brakes right before the transition into the ring. Since the first corner had been elongated, it was a much faster entry, which meant locking up the brakes to slow myself down enough…
During the last quarter of practice, I was coming into the first corner, transitioned, then spun. Little did I know, my good friend Nieko Gunther was following closely behind in his white S13 coupe. He slammed hard into my front end with his door. It was a sight which would bring attention to every spectator watching. Glass was on the track, and my paint was on his door. Let’s see the damage.
No time for lunch, time to bring on the hammers and start bashing the living (or non-living) crap out of some metal! We ripped off the headlights, but most of the grill and passenger headlight was wedged in-between the bumper support and radiator support. Oh well, time to stage for Top 16!
It finally came time to run in Top 16! I was running against Mike Porter, driving a 13b turbo FC3S RX-7. He pulled hard on me in the straight, but I managed to stay somewhat close. Unfortunately, I spun in both runs, and lost to him right then and there.