Hello and welcome to this week’s iteration of “Better Know A Driver.” This week we catch up with Detroit native Shane Whalley and learn more about him and his GTO.
SMASHED: How did you get into drifting?
Whalley: I got into drifting by doing hood rat street hoon stuff in my old 3rd gen Supra. Didn’t even really know it was a thing back when I was 16-17 years old. Then saw a few events and had to get into it. Went to the first local series in 2011 in a super budget built ’83 Celica Supra, and I was hooked ever since.
SMASHED: Do you look up to/get inspired by any of the Formula D or D1GP drivers? If so, who?
Whalley: The guys I look up to the most are the guys I have driven with, and still drive with. I can’t think of any drivers I would ever really fan boy over, but I have a lot of respect for Geoff Stoneback, Dan Savage and Mike Skudlarek. I have built a friendship with those dudes, and they have always offered advice to help me whenever I have questions.
SMASHED: What achievements are you trying to reach in the sport?
Whalley: Becoming a pro driver is the main goal, but I never want to lose sight of why I got into the sport to begin with, and that’s to have fun.
SMASHED: What’s your biggest motivation to get help you reach those goals?
Whalley: My biggest motivation comes from the drivers I run with. They’re always pushing me harder. Also Nick Swann of MDU has had a very large impact on the motivation to keep pushing. He won’t sugar coat anything, and tells you straight up when you drive like shit. To me, that’s great motivation to push that much harder. My team Tuner Tools has been a huge motivation to me this year, from doing a last minute engine swap, to pulling a transmission to replace a release bearing 45 minutes before qualifying at Street Life Tour. They won’t let me give up and refuse to throw the towel in.
SMASHED: What is/are some of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome to get where you are now?
Whalley: Developing an unproven chassis for competitive drifting.
SMASHED: Your GTO is a fairly unconventional platform in this sport. What made you choose the GTO, and what would you say are some of its biggest strengths and weaknesses?
Whalley: The whole reason I built a GTO was because believe it or not, it was my cheapest option to get into pro am. I didn’t have money to build a car from ground up. The GTO was my daily driver. I bought my GTO practically new with about 6 or 7 thousand miles on it. The car already had a LS in it making decent power (back in 2012, 400hp was solid ProAm power) so I parted out everything I didn’t need to pay for the parts I did need. I’d say the only strength of the chassis was the motor. The biggest weakness and hurdle was the fact that I was basically pioneering a new chassis for drifting. There were no parts available to make it a working car. So over the years I designed control arms, camber plates, knuckles, tie rods, radius rods, and plenty of other parts just to make the car work.
SMASHED: What advice do you have for those just starting out in the sport?
Whalley: Start small. I see too many kids now who want to get into drifting and think the need to build a full blown race car. That’s the worst thing you could possibly do. Get a pile of junk $1,000 car, weld the diff, add coilovers and learn car control. Don’t even put knuckles on it. Learning in a car that’s difficult to drive will teach you a lot about car control. Once the limit of the car is reached, then start doing heavier modifications, with horsepower being the very last thing you should focus on.
SMASHED: Anything else we should know about you?
Whalley: Yeah, just because I have a GTO, don’t associate me as a “GM guy.” I get it all the time. I like cars, all makes and models. Hell, I still have a 82 supra as my winter car.
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Current city: Detroit, MI
Car (year/make/model): 2006 Pontiac GTO
Engine: 6.0 LS2, Garrett GTX4294R turbo, Diamond pistons, BC rods, Trend pushrods, Trend wrist pins, HPE Megadeath Camshaft, on a Matt Solomon Tune making 700+whp on E85
Suspension: BC front struts, and QA1 custom QA1 rear shocks. Camber plates, knuckles, front control arms, radius rods, rear control arms, rear toe arms, and tie rods are all designed and built by myself.
Wheels: XXR 527 18×9.75″
Tires: Nitto NT05 265/35/18 Fronts, Kenda KR20 265/35/18 rears
Sponsors: Tuner Tools, Ice Nine Group, Turbo By Garrett, Canton Racing, XXR Wheels, Driveshaft Shop, Trend and Diamond, W2 Graphics
Years drifting: 5
Day job: Mechanic and Metal Fabricator
First drift car: 1983 Celica Supra
Favorite track: Streets of Detroit