Revenge of the Nerd: End of the FD Season and a lesson in drift car dynamics

Revenge of the Nerd: End of the Formula D Season and a Lesson in Drift Car Dynamics

By Mike Kojima

My involvement this year supporting Dai Yoshihara and James Deane with Falken Motorsports in Formula D drifting has been a wild ride.  It was a very interesting learning experience as I finally discovered what the dynamics of a really good drift car are and how to set up the chassis to deliver the performance a driver needs to do his job.  Modern Pro drifting is probably the greatest challenge for chassis set up out of any sedan based motorsport and the SPD Metalworks crew works pretty hard to get the car just right for any given course. 

traqmate gps data
Traqmate's GPS navigation system is one of the best low cost tools a racer can buy.

One of the tools we use is the Traqmate GPS Data Acquisition system.  It gives us a lot of data to help us do everything from confirming set up changes to critiquing driving in a simple easy to set up package.  We also use Contour HD cameras to monitor everything from what the driver is doing to how the suspension is reacting.  A simple video can take the place of many channels of conventional data acquisition and is easier to interpret.  We can also overlay the video and data and the result is pretty entertaining and informative for you!

Contour HD
Don't rule out video as a sophisticated form of data acquisition that you don't have to have an engineering degree to reduce and interpret.

For those snobby racers that continually tell me that drifting is not a motorsport or lame, I suggest looking at the data overlay on the video we have attached.  Dynamically we are reaching way over one lateral G usually reaching as much as 1.3 g’s in drift!  The car also spends a lot of time accelerating at just under one G, sometimes reaching over one G.  That is a lot of mechanical grip which says a lot for both the capability of the Falken 615K street tire and the Falken/Discount Tire S13.

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