So what actually goes on before the season starts? What does a driver and team have to do in order to prepare for the next season? Quite a bit, actually.
Even though the first round of competition is on March, we started properly planning the season on November of last year and had even made some decisions before that, one of those decisions was switching from a turbo setup to a supercharger in order to be louder and more aggressive.
A lot (and we mean A LOT) of proposals were sent out in the off season in order to secure sponsorship deals. Our title sponsor, Doc, was still on board, and thanks to our success last year in Pro 2, we were able to secure a bigger budget from them.
We also got a newer truck along with a 28′ enclosed trailer to tow the drift car this season so now the pit will look a lot better since we can bring more stuff to the track, like a pit cart, bigger tents and better advertising materials and displays.
It all seems to be going well right? Well… February looked very scary as far as what was going to happen, we had verbal agreements with sponsors but didn’t have the contracts signed yet and therefore no sponsorship money was coming in, this was not a good scenario as no parts were getting ordered and the car was not being prepped yet.
Around the beginning of March though (with less than a month to go for round 1) everything started to come together, all the sponsors started getting back in touch with us and contracts were getting signed (finally!). It went from “not sure anything is going to happen” to “wow, everything is going to happen and this is looking great!”.
The Edelbrock supercharger came in and the new dry sump system from AVIAID was ready to go so we told the guys at CPR Racing Engines our super short deadline and they said it wouldn’t be a problem to get the engine built within a week so that was a relief. Tire sponsorship came in super last minute though but we were able to secure a deal with Hankook Tires just in time. Traklite Wheels provided us with 20 rims this year, we wanted more than the 14 we got last year because Jeff kept hitting people and breaking them, they would get in his way apparently… or sometimes a wall would get in his way too… anyways, the fact is we kept breaking rims and had to constantly get more shipped to us.
Good! Now to actually build the car…
Jeff Marlow, who’s been a big asset to the team since last year, came to our headquarters in Sun Valley, CA all the way from New Jersey two weeks before the first round to stay and do basically everything along with Jeff Jones, he designed the new livery and ended up doing the wrapping himself in just two days, he played an integral role in the prep work put into the car and it’s safe to say that without him, the car wouldn’t have been ready in time.
We inspected the ACT clutch that was used all last year and it was in perfect condition, regardless of that, ACT sent us a new one. The engine was delivered to us just in time and installed right away. We were going back and forth to the dyno since there were some issues with the wiring though, it was 5 years old already and had some gremlins in there, it’s one of those things that could take 5 minutes or 2 weeks to figure out so we just purchased a brand new plug and play harness, this set us back in our budget quite a bit but it was between trying to figure it out and maybe not have it on time or spending the money to fix it right away and continue testing. After that, the dyno runs were going well and the numbers looked great, we are now making over 850 lb-ft of torque and 700 hp with the new supercharger setup.
After all that, we finally had a running drift car and had a couple of days to test, we went up to Willow Springs Raceway to give the car some shakedown laps and dial in our new Megan Racing coilovers, the first day we found a few issues with some pulleys which we fixed later at night, the next day went better and we were able to get a few good laps in but not as many as we would’ve wanted. The belt setup was one of the hardest part to figure out, we had to make modifications to the water pump neck and housing, make a tensioner stopper, change pulley sizes and a bunch of other things we didn’t think would be an issue but getting everything to work together was a challenge with all the torque we’re producing now. Also, for the last few years the car has been running a Toyota power steering pump because, as everyone knows, the ones from GM aren’t that good for drifting, but the bracket we had was not able to handle the force of the new supercharger setup and kept bending, so as a last minute effort we switched to a GM power steering pump, they go bad all the time but at least the bracket doesn’t bend and we were running out of time.
So now we are READY for the 2017 season! After 2 weeks of averaging 4 hours of sleep per night and still needing to load up the truck and trailer tonight, we are good to go! Come by our pits during the weekend to say hi and see how tired we are.