Fear and Loathing in Bonneville (My Trip to Speedweek)
By Mike Kojima
No this story is not a tale about a classic blowout to Sin City but something almost as bad, the conclusion to my 2012 Motorsports world tour. This started on the west coast on the Formula D circuit at the end of July and just ended this last weekend at the Las Vegas round of Formula D. During this time, I have probably only been home for about 7 days with perhaps only 5 uninterrupted days being home straight.
|A few days before the event the car looked like this, in pieces. The crew didn't sleep much in the week leading up to Speedweek. Speedweek requires booking months in advance. A few months ago, that sounded like a reasonable amount of time to get the car ready.|
This adventure encompasses my job as Team Engineer for Falken Tire's Dai Yoshihara and Darren McNamara, crew chief for the ill fated Team America WTAC GT-R, consultant for KW Suspension and General Motorsports Engineer for hire. In between all that I try to run this place but it helps that we have an excellent staff at MotoIQ. Needless to say, I have been flying all around the globe doing stuff in all sorts of Motorsports and not getting much sleep lately.
|So we hit the road late and ran into horrible LA traffic. Chuck was somewhat miffed because the crew left before the car was done. The final assembly of the car would have to wait until the car arrived at the salt flats. This would be far from ideal but we would make it work. Things could be worse, we would have a lot of helping hands there. Not wanting to ruin our own cars on the salt, Chris and I decided to rent a brand new 2012 Ford Explorer. Stephen Quinn and Christa Kojima are in the back seat, I have no idea where Christa is in this picture. Our truck was packed with about $10,000 worth of equipment.|
My original plan was to fly straight from WTAC in Australia to Bonneville Speedway to help Chuck Johnson in the maiden run of our Project LSR S13. I was hoping my health and sanity would hold up as this would be coming straight from a stint in Europe and I was expecting the GT-R would be a multi day hell thrash at WTAC.
|We finally hit Vegas and since the car still had not left, we decided to stay in Vegas. A call was placed to some friends in high places and a baller suite was procured. We decided to live it up since we would probably be suffering on the salt!|
Well the GT-R ended up on a slow boat to China (read about that here) but I had additional car prep duties for Falken and a few other projects so no time to catch up on sleep or get over jet lag really. I did feel that i had a moral duty to help Chuck at this event since he is one of my best friends and my daughter's Godfather (he sometimes claims to be her father). Bonneville is actually a pretty difficult place to drive and potentially quite dangerous. I had spent some time trying to visually analyze several videos of crashes in cars of our BGC category where few aero mods are allowed and had some bad feelings about what could happen so I wanted to make sure that everything I know what to do with suspension would be available to help.
|The next day we found ourselves to be slightly behind the car with Chuck Johnson and Annie Sam of Project 240SX LSR. We hit the road and drove for hours through nothing.|