Wednesday – Load In
Round 2 of the 2022 Formula DRIFT PROSPEC championship took place at Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. This is one of my favorite tracks to drift at and happens to be the closest to home. Because we were 3 hours away from home, the drive was very smooth. We arrived at 8pm and decided to set up Thursday morning. The vehicle already passed inspection at Round 1 so it did not need to go through inspection again.
Thursday – Practice/Qualifying
During Thursday’s practice, I was extremely comfortable because of the numerous times I had driven at Raceway Park. We made changes after each run because we had freshly re-built the motor and adjusted accordingly to optimize all the power possible. After completing 10 practice runs, I was very confident in the car and extremely comfortable with the layout. We decided to end practice to give the car a break and prepare for qualifying.
Due to the results from Round 1, I was 31st in line for my first qualifying run. After waiting for what felt like all night long, it was my turn to perform a solid qualifying run. I landed a 75-point run, which placed me at 15th overall. I knew that my practice runs were better, which only made me more confident for battles. I was really looking forward to my Top 32 battle on Friday.
Friday – Top 32
After a great day of practice and qualifying within the Top 16, I was ready for Top 32. We had our autograph session right before our warm-ups, which is always one my favorite parts of the weekend. With 2 hours of warm-up, my team and I decided to keep it light and focus on 4 runs: 2 leads and 2 chases. After quickly doing my chase runs, I completed 1 lead and felt amazing with the car but was not happy with how I completed OZ3. As a result, I went in for my last practice run and pushed way too far going into OZ3, that I ended up hitting the wall from the car understeering as I was transitioning into the zone.
It happened so fast that I did not immediately understand what caused the car to understeer into the wall. After bringing the car into the pits and looking over the damage, my team and I found that the left rear wheel cracked, and all the air left the tire. This caused me to grip up and what led me to understeer me into the wall. It was one of the hardest hits I have ever felt, and my car took a nasty blow.
Kevin, the Race Director, asked me if I was going to be able to get the car fixed on time because I had less than 45 minutes until battles. In the pit area, my team did a miraculous job and got my car ready. They replaced the entire left front corner of the car and rack and pinion. Corey Misko, who is part of Corey Talaska’s team, helped tig weld my throttle body bracket that holds the TPS and my rack adapter that the power steering lines go to. I needed to call my 5 minutes because after pulling a miracle off, we got the car done but there was a power steering leak from one of the fittings that was welded. We were so rushed, we missed a hair line crack on the fitting and the moment I turned on my power steering pump, all the fluid leaked out.
We did not have enough time to pull back out, weld it and bleed the power steering system, so we decided to send it with no power steering. Pulling up to the line, I had the advantage of leading first because we qualified higher than Evan Bogovich, who was my opponent in Top 32. Knowing how fast of a driver he is, I jumped the line on our first countdown and caused a restart. On the second countdown, Bogovich spun behind me going into turn 1, but I could not keep the drift because my steering was locking up with no fluid in it. As a result, we ended up as a double zero. It was my turn to chase and unfortunately ended with the same result; I had tried to go into turn 1, but could not bring the steering wheel back because it kept locking up.
It was a devasting weekend because everything was working amazing, and the car performed its absolute best. I’m so blessed to have the team that I do and for all their hard work during the season. We’re coming stronger for Round 3 in St. Louis, Missouri!
WORDS: Carlos Arrieta
PHOTOS: Scott Paul, @swooshatimages
Robert Goodwin, @robgoodwinphotos