In this week’s Throwback Thursday post, we revisit the third round of the 2011 Midwest Drift Union season. A drastic improvement in the conditions from round two saw Brian Peter take the win at a track he had never driven (and back when his FC had a V8).
I’ll go ahead and apologize for the quality of some of these photos. Unlike the previous throwback posts, I can’t find the original RAW files from this round, so I had to try to undo the craptacular edits I had made when these were originally posted at OMGDrift, from which the following article originates.
The Midwest Drift Union returned to Indiana last weekend to hold round three of competition at Lucas Oil Raceway, a high-speed track which saw many drivers experience day-ending mechanical issues.
Conditions at the track were far superior to those for round two in Michigan back in May, with cloudless blue skies and temperatures hovering in the low-90s. The day ran in typical MDU fashion, with three run groups practicing the better part of the afternoon before moving on to qualifying and finals tandem competition in early evening.
The course saw drivers turning right instead of left for the first turn, before getting hard on the brakes for an almost 90-degree turn, leading into a narrower segment before opening back up to the main straight and final clipping point. Faster drivers took the first sweeper in fourth gear, but without a speed gun, entry speeds remain a mystery.
Travis LaCombe in his S13 with a Mustang heart produced solid runs throughout the day.
With a nearly stock 350Z, Keith Carlos laid down consistent runs and made it to the tandem competition later in the day, finishing seventh overall.
Keeping the tradition of having the farthest distance to travel, Canadian Chris Gonzalez, down a rear wing after losing it in a trash can impact the night before and having a practically non-existent rear bumper, finished just above Carlos in sixth.
Sitting third in points but finishing eighth on the day due to mechanical issues, Nick Thomas is seen here locking up the front wheels just after the first sweeper, a commonplace occurrence throughout the day.
However, until those mechanical issues occurred, Thomas was putting on impressive runs all day – the car even still had mud caked in the rear wheels from where he slid off the embankment at round two in Michigan back in May.
Taking home third and scoring his first podium finish was Cody Grim.
“It was a fast track and was actually one of the better tracks I’ve ever ran,” Grim said. “I didn’t think my car would hold together on this track, but I mean, it’s slick, it’s fun and fast so I had a great time.”
Grim had driven the Drift Indy Rage parking lot event the night before and said the car had developed an oil leak, causing it to run about two quarts low. With that issue resolved, Grim held off Gonzales in tandem competition, a series of runs that had to be redone several times due to numerous issues. Feiock weighed in on what happened:
“Cody lead, came out with a very good entry and clean run,” Feiock said. “Chris faltered on the entry and got through the rest of the track cleanly: advantage Cody. During Chris’s turn to lead, he had a strange entry line to get up to the clipping zone, but he had been doing this all day. Chris got through the course smoothly, but Cody almost came to a stop on the first turn. At that point a OMT was called due to both drivers having equal mistakes. Second go was very similar with both drivers making critical mistakes, so again, a OMT was called. The run after that was very cut and dry – Cody had two clean runs and Chris did not.”
Grim said he had qualified 15th at Street Life Tour last year, but Saturday’s competition was also the first time he’d qualified higher than that.
“I’m pretty stoked,” he added.
Finishing second and taking the series points lead was Bill Cook. He had also driven the event the night before, losing a rear bumper and shredding the right rear tire, causing extensive cosmetic damage to the overfender – an ailment a few dozen zip ties were able to remedy.
In typical Cook fashion, his runs were fast and smokey, allowing him to qualify second. However, mechanical issues didn’t elude him. Cook said his harmonic balancer pulley came apart, taking out the sending unit for his EDIS.
“The car kind of let me down after the second round of practice,” Cook said. “Thank God for my pit crew guys, they really rallied up and got the radiator pulled off, pulley pulled out, and got it all back together and got back on the track.”
A clutch problem became the culprit for a hard driver’s side door impact during the last run of the day.
“When I went up against Brian, I noticed the clutch wasn’t right,” Cook said. “He took off, he left me, and I felt like it was really messed up but I tried to do the best I could. So when I led, I knew he already had me beat, so I went out and just threw it down as hard as I could, and it didn’t work. It didn’t work and I ended up in the wall. The chassis looks like it’ll be okay – we’ll take some sledgehammers or 4x4s or something to it and bend it back out and be back for round four.”
As mentioned earlier, Cook’s second place finish allowed him to take the points lead from Kris Hackenson, who now sits second. Hackesnon experienced mechanical issues causing him to not even making it to qualifying.
Hackenson drove briefly during the Friday night event, but stopped early due to worries the rear end might blow up. He said the engine had just undergone a full tune-up, so he was excited about running in Saturday’s competition. In an ironic twist, it turned out to be issues under the hood which caused his DNF. Thinking he possibly broke an axle when coming down the front straight due to the sound, upon returning to the pits, he found the issue was with a rod or bearing.
“We opened up the valve train and didn’t see anything too crazy going on in there so we think it’s lower damage for sure,” Hackenson said. “I think we’re going to buy a new motor while we fix this one so we don’t miss any events. This motor will probably be repaired and rebuilt so I’ve got like two motors just in case.”
The setback didn’t seem to damper his enthusiasm.
“You know, it is what it is, and we had a great day,” Hackenson said. “The course was pretty challenging. It was fun though.”
Bringing home victory was Brian Peter in his FC. He had never driven the track before, but that didn’t stop him from displaying fast runs from the get-go.
“Entry was pretty awesome, like a fourth-gear on the wall and then it’s really really heavy on the brakes and it’s kinda tricky to get the downshift to third,” Peter said. “Once you get through the first corner, the rest of it isn’t too bad at all. The whole trick is staying really wide up on that wall, otherwise you kinda go in at a diamond shape instead of a big arc and you slow down too much and get pinned in there.”
With Hackenson and Thomas both out, Peter expressed disappointment for not being able to drive with them.
“(Kris) is always an aggressive driver and I was really looking forward to driving with him, but things just didn’t work out,” Peter said. “When I was going against Nick Thomas, his slave cylinder failed so he could try to shift but he was pretty much stuck in one gear, so he was starting in third, so it was a matter of giving him a little space and then catching up.”
Peter said aside from a broken diff mount, his car ran perfectly all day.
“I struggled with (my car) last year a lot, but now, with the help from ASD getting the setup right and the Falken tires I’m running, it’s pretty amazing,” Peter said. “I didn’t have any issues with it, my tires were lasting forever and the setup was right.”
Saturday marked the first time Peter had both qualified and finished first at the same event.
“When the car’s working right and you’re having a decent day, it makes things way easier,” he said.
While most drivers and fans were enthusiastic about the day’s competition, Feiock expressed disappointment with what he saw.
“Most of these drivers are friends of mine and I expect more from them,” he said. “This track is one of the best tracks we go to all year, and I was expecting the drivers to step up and drive the track in an exciting way. During qualifying, myself and the other judges were finding ourselves giving some of the worst scores of the year. What should have been an easy top sixteen turned into almost not having a top eight. So overall just bad driving from people that normally do very well.”
Cook leads the series with 83 points, followed by Hackenson with 63, only one point ahead of third place Nick Thomas.
Round four will be held at Nashville Super Speedway in Nashville, Tenn. on August 21. More details will be released closer to the competition.