This week’s Throwback Thursday surfaces from what was perhaps the wettest (and second coldest) event in Midwest Drift Union history: round two at Auto City Speedway in Clio, Michigan in 2011. As with the previous throwback posts, this article appears almost exactly how it did from its original post at OMGDrift at the time.
This Ojibwe word, meaning “large water,” was morphed by the French into the word “Michigan” many moons ago. According to its Department of Natural Resources, the state boasts 64,980 inland lakes and ponds, one of which had formed in the infield at Auto City Speedway in the tiny town of Clio.
The weather at tech-in time was a glorious 38-degrees, with pleasant 20 mph winds and at times a relaxing near-horizontal rain. Staff, crew members and fans (all 15 of them) alike donned ponchos and trash bags while hoping conditions would turn somewhat more favorable. Thankfully, the rain ceased a few minutes after the first drivers took the course. However, a still very-wet track became a challenge for many drivers. Head of the Midwest Drift Union, Edgar Sarmiento, weighed in on the conditions.
“Overall morale was down due to weather, but these are things that drivers, especially when competing for a Formula D license ,would have to overcome and keep pushing on” Sarmiento said. “I think our top four really showed that.”
Despite taking to the track right after the rain stopped, Derek Bianski and his very loud RX-7 (I’m told he was pulled over for noise on the way to the event) were producing very fast runs.
Here’s Brian Waggoner’s 240SX, featuring some of the most insane camber of the day with those deep dish wheels:
Once again the sole Canadian showing, Chris Gonzalez was down a front bumper but still producing some solid runs.
And as demonstrated by Gonzalez here, this section of the track would see many drivers dropping wheels, and sometimes their entire cars, into the muddy infield. As the day went on, the surface here largely turned into mud, making things extra tricky.
Round one’s second place finisher Nick Thomas was back in action with the Track.One Motorsports 240SX.
I actually ran into Nick and the whole crew at a random gas station in Indiana and followed them up the rest of the way to the event.
Thomas, too, would experience a bit of off-track time during the same pesky corner:
As the track dried out, the runs got faster and faster.
Bianski, who had already been fast in the rain, was even more so with a drier track:
With this speed came an interesting consequence. One aspect of this track was the lack of a wall surrounding the steeply-banked first turn. Us media guys figured by the end of the day, at least one driver would fly over the top of the turn and down into the metal retaining wall on the other side of the slope – and we were right.
Robert LeMay was the first driver to visit the other side of the track, but was able to get it back together again and tear up the track some more that afternoon:
Not long after LeMay’s visit to the other side, Anthony Covey followed suit:
Unfortunately for Covey, that incident would end his day.
Finally, the last driver to go over the edge of turn one was Nick Thomas:
Thomas tried very hard to get back on track under the car’s own power, but ultimately, had to be towed out.
With exponentially more seat time at the track than many of the other drivers combined to his advantage, Bill Cook took home first place in his 1JZ-powered S13 hatch.
“The morning was stupid,” Cook said, referring to the soaking wet track. “It was stupid, stupid slick. It was a lot harder for the higher powered guys; they had a hell of a time trying to drive.”
Cook had put on consistently blazing runs all day, with excellent car control and technical prowess.
“(The course) started drying up and got a lot faster,” Cook said. “A few slick spots were in it, and you just had to drive through them.”
An off-track adventure didn’t escape Cook, however. He slid off the second banked curve and into one of those 64,980 bodies of water:
“I just got real lucky,” Cook said concerning the incident. “I came over the edge and tried to stay away from that one manhole cover the best I could. I didn’t break the car.”
Cook said he plans converting to a single-turbo setup in the near future.
“It should produce a little more power, and being a single turbo, won’t be as responsive,” Cook said. “But I should create more power, smoke and have a good time.”
Round one winner Kris Hackenson took home second place.
“This weather sucks,” Hackenson said. “But you can’t really complain because everybody was in the same boat. I just really tried to deal with it the best I could. I played with a little bit of tire pressure, and found my motor was loose in there that was causing some issues,” Hackenson said. “After we figured it all out it turned out to be good. It was a good day. I was super happy. I was just trying to do the best I could as always.”
Hackenson echoed Cook’s comments about the difficulty with hitting alternating wet and dry spots and the challenges that presented. He added that his Nissan was perhaps nearing its end.
“It’s all part of the game,” Hackenson said. “As soon as it dried up, it was game on. This car is on its last leg. It probably was in 2009. I’m just trying to make the best out of it, and finish well in the season, and come up with good finishes, and have fun while doing it.”
Here’s Hackenson and Cook tearing it up during tandem competition:
Adam Ouziel finished third, but says he struggles with tandem competition.
“I have a super fast car with tons of grip and I drift extremely fast, so it’s difficult to stay close to people, not getting too close, and then have to straighten out,” Ouziel said. “I need to learn how to left-foot brake while drifting. I’m told it’s the technique of choice for following a slower car.”
Ouziel said the rain also threw him off toward the beginning of the day.
“I got lucky, my first practice was when the rain just had stopped, and it was patchy, wet and dry, so it sucked at first, as you have grip and all of a sudden it slips,” he said. I was spinning around like crazy, but it dried up and it wasn’t a problem after that.”
Absent from round one, Ouziel said he’ll be present for the third round in July, and making a few changes to the car in the meantime. He said he thinks his 555 injectors are too small for his Garrett GT2871R and will most likely switch to 720s. Despite having a fully built SR20, there are some issues to be worked out.
“Right now it’s real peaky,” Ouziel said. “Like at 3500-4000 rpm, you have no power, and at 4500, you have all kinds of power. It’s a significant disadvantage to the V8s who have instant low-end torque.”
Current standings show Hackenson leading with 63 points, with Cook in second with 55 points, and Thomas in third with 48 points.