Formula Drift Round 4: New Jersey – Wall Stadium Speedway
By Justin Banner
Another very interesting round in the books for Formula Drift’s 2011 season and it began with Thursday’s practice. Formula Drift Rookie, Luke Lonberger making contact with the wall and having to get towed off. It did break some suspension parts, but with the great family philosophy that Gardella Racing brings to Formula Drift, he was able to make repairs and come out on Friday for open practice and qualifications. Friday qualifications weren’t much more usual as only 31 of 32 drivers were able make the field.
|You still like me, right, Vaughn? Vaughn? Vaughn?!|
|Of course MotoIQ is the best in Drifting coverage, why else would Mike Kojima be so popular with the media?|
Alex Pfieffer wasn’t able to show up, Rhys Millen was dedicated to running at a Rallycross in Pikes Peak International Raceway, Sam Hubinette would have been racing in The Off Road Championship (TORC) race if rain hadn’t stopped it, Pat Cyr blew his Honda-powered Corolla, and Mike Fieock wrecked his RX-7 in practice. Then, of the entries that did run, they either broke or got zeros in qualifying, like Jeff Jones who crashed on his first run and failed to make it for his second run. Walker Wilkerson also crashed on his first run by tagging the wall on the bank, but he did make it back and qualified for Saturday’s show.
|…After! Walker Wilkerson’s car was banged and battered in a first qualifying run crash but he was able to get it back together and make the show with a good second run.|
The only problem he had after getting the suspension repaired was that the firewall was pushed in towards the footbox making it difficult to engage the clutch. Taka Aono in the Megan Racing/Nexen Toyota Corolla spun on his first attempt, but put together a run to place him in 29th. Former IRL driver, Jim Guthrie made his first show this year by being the 31st qualifier in his Car Crafters Mazda FD RX-7 powered by a supercharged GM LS1 V8. Luke Lonberger, while he was able to make the show and did qualify, could not make it to his Top 32 session because of a blown engine. The way that he and Conrad Grunewald were talking, this may be the final event for 2011 for Luke unless some better financial opportunities come up for the FD Rookie, but he did get his qualifying points and does get credit for making Top 32.
|Conrad Grunewald’s Camaro looking as mean as ever!|
During the driver’s meeting after qualifications, Jarod Deanda began to announce the 31 qualifiers for Formula Drift New Jersey. Upon reaching the 25th position thunder and lightning began crashing about the speedway. Many of the teams that were towards the end of the pit area knew what was going on, but those who were in the Formula Drift Media Center could not see what was coming. Slowly, the winds began to blow harder and harder until finally the media center was beginning to lift and the officials ordered everyone to take shelter! It seems as if God also hates the New Jersey round and possibly didn’t take too kindly to Team Need for Speed as their tents, electronics, Playstations and Xboxs were soaked, ruined, or just blown away. The tents had fallen on the two cars and blew on top of the Gardella Racing rig, but thankfully no one was hurt and the only real damage was to one tow rig with a dent in its door. With no practice, Matt Powers and a Driftstream videographer went out and filmed what they could of the scene in the pits and also interviewed drivers and even your writer, so check it out!
|Watch Out! Matt Powers is On The Scene!|