Through the eyes of a tall guy. Evergreen Pro Am Round 1
by, 05-08-2012 at 01:29 PM (3218 Views)
Let me start by saying thanks to Gaelen and the rest of the NWN crew for continuing to grow Northwest Nissans into one of the best regional forums in the country. It has been a great 10 years and I am proud to be sponsored by Northwest Nissans this season.
On to the recap.
On April 21 we had the first round of FD Pro-AM at Evergreen Speedway. This was a day that I have been looking forward to for months. Just itching to smell the aroma of burning rubber and race gas. Getting to see people again that I haven't seen for months, and getting the opportunity to check out the vehicles that they have dedicated their winters to.
Needless to say could you blame me for waking up 3 hours before my alarm? I started my day by easing my mind and going on a 6 mile bike ride around Lake Union. I took a picture on the ride. #Tigerproblems Working on a saturday.
After the ride I calmed down and eased into the morning.
I drove to Garage Autohero where Ray was busy working away on a few projects including my S14. We were hoping to leave a bit earlier so as to get at the track around 12:30 giving us plenty of time to set up and get ready before practice started. Well as things often do the plan went awry, and we loaded the car at 1:30. We made a mad dash for Evergreen Speedway. I drove the truck and trailer in, just as the drivers meeting was starting. I love to make an entrance.
Once we got the car off the trailer I immediately jumped in my suit and got staged up to start practice. I had a plan that I would burn through the 4 tires that I had mounted and then go get 4 brand new tires mounted before qualifying would start.
My first practice run felt great. I hadn't driven Evergreen in a month and it felt like I never left. Nice line and mid to high on the bank.
The second felt a bit more dicey as the power steering started to cut in and out. If this hasn't happened to you before it is extremely inconsistent and unpredictable.
The third practice run I lost power steering completely and upon entering the power alley (after the bank) I locked up the wheels and headed towards the inner wall. Luckily I stopped and Donny Jones who was trailing me was able to stop.
[Que Rob running around like a chicken with his head cut off.]
I have had my power steering cooler mounted in the front wheel well for the last year. I have never had an issue up to this point so it was rather disheartening that it happened today of all days. We assumed that the power steering cooler needed to be moved up front. I jumped out of my suit and headed towards the local autoparts store, while My Dad, Ray, Nikolay and some other great people went to work on my S14.
Upon returning I was told that the power steering cooler was blocked with melted rubber and had to be cleaned and moved. I dropped off the new power steering lines and fluid to my team and promptly loaded Yoshi Shindo's borrowed Pathfinder with tires and TE's (I even carried one on my lap) and headed for Autohero for the quickest tire change possible. This wasn't the first time Yoshi and I have made this voyage. It is almost a standard trek during a Pro-AM event. While at the shop I was getting updates on how much time I had and how the fix was going. But it got to a point where I had no time to wipe the sweat off my face and hands to check the texts. I was just assuming the worst. Once we got all the tires changed we locked up and made a B line towards Evergreen.
I finally took out my phone and expected to see that I had missed qualifying or the car wasn't going to be fixed. But the message said that the car was ready and that I had 45 minutes until Pro-AM qualifying starts.
Once we made it back we threw on a pair of fresh tires, and I put on my suit and headed out to staging. Power steering was back and the car felt great.
I have a very low resting heart rate. I just had it checked and it was measured at 48 Beats Per Minute. However as I was getting closer and closer to the start my heart rate was rapidly increasing. This is almost always the case. It is a time where I have to consciously slow my breathing and calm down. As its my turn to stage my heart is at its highest rate. I just stare at the starter until he gives me the nod. Then everything becomes violent outside while I become very calm inside. Its a very cool part of racing. Although there is all sorts of pressure that you put on yourself, there really is no time to think about being scared. Once you're out these it is essentially muscle memory with quick adjustments.
The car felt great on the bank and made a nice first run. Nothing crazy but it felt good. I find it important to make a good clean run out the gate so you take the pressure off youself for the second run.
I went for it staying high on the wall trying to nail the final wall clip and went a little to hot into the power ally and went 4 off. The wall clip on the bank is really hard to make while still diving in for the power alley.
Using my first score I ended up qualifying 5 out of 17.
The Top 16 I went against Ket Voang in the LS1 powered S13 Silvia. Ket is a driver that I have no experience with. I know he qualified well 11 out of 17 and that he drives a quick car. Thats all I knew. I got no chance to watch him practice. In my lead run I felt great. Drove a nice line and took the advantage according to my spotter. So my chase run I started off even with Ket and then he just darted forward. That car was very fast. I wanted to give him some space but didn't expect that kind of speed so my gap got a bit too large. He initiated and I followed. I focused on running a high line on the bank and watched him adjust a bit while trying to climb towards the wall. Then I made the mistake again. I went 4 off coming into the power alley. One more time.
In one more time I focused again on running my run. I took off and never looked back. Im not saying that as though I left him in the dust, I never look back. I just try to drive as fast as I can and hope that the driver behind me isn't close at the end. At the end of my lead run my spotter said I had the advantage. So we lined up and I gave chase. This time I knew how fast he was so I tried to keep it closer. But LS cars are very fast. They have some low end horsepower that I don't. The 2JZ has them beat up top but at that point I have too much and spin the tires. But I kept it closer and made the mistake of almost going 4 off again. But I kept it tidy enough and advanced through to the Top 8.
In Top 8 I would go against Nik Jiminez.
I had roughly an hour to think about the next round so I walked around and focused in on what I needed to do. I wanted to stay with Nik as best I could while still running my line. Its a challenging to chase with a turbo car as you build power higher up in the powerband so if you lift and lose too much rpms you fall out of your power range. So you need to judge each driver and estimate your speed vs. theirs.
Lining up against Nik is pretty rad. It's just like driving with any other friend. You look over and give each other a nod (Basically giving your ready and respect) then out the gate you go. I tried to keep it close as I know Nik is fast and can get away. I started to gain on him in the bank and I tried slowing, however when I started to slow too much I got back on the throttle. However I didn't downshift to third and I found myself way out of the powerband so I corrected. I fought back after but after that bobble I was at a large disadvantage.
My lead run I knew I had to bring it with everything I had. I took off and Nik gave chase. I ran my best run of the day in regards of speed, line, and angle. However Nik ran close behind me and made minimal mistakes. I knew it was close but Nik had it won.
Even though I left defeated I was still happy as I got to spend the day doing what I love. The car ran great and my team delivered amazing support. I am currently sitting 5th in points after one round. I can't wait for May 20th.
I'd like to thank my sponsors Garage Autohero, Ten Gun, Era 1, John Reed Racing, Factory 83, SullyLife, Portland Speed Industries, Falken Tire, Nos Energy Drink, Northwest Nissans, Northwest Riders Clothing Company , Kaaz USA, Hell Yeah Custom Coating, and Sid Titus. Also want to shout out Nikolay Konstantinov, Yoshi Shindo, Jesse Kincy, Dustin McLalwain, Papa Primo, and Lindsey Wright for all their help.
For more updates as we prepare for Round 2 and beyond follow me on:
Instagram - @robprimo
Twitter - @robprimo
Check out vimeo.com/davidsullivan to watch as we document my entire drift season.
Episode 0 - http://vimeo.com/39818394
Episode 1 - http://vimeo.com/41309252