For years I sat behind the fence enjoying the Formula D and D1GP events. When my roommates dragged me to my 1st ever drifting event in 2003 as D1GP invaded Irwindale raceway. I remember sneaking into the VIP area where there was no fence and you had a clean view of the cars kicking rubber in your face. I was hooked and I attended every D1GP and Formula D event in the Socal area. As a fan I enjoyed the action and was annoyed whenever they called 5 minutes to try to fix the cars. I figure the mechanics were professionals and unless the car hit something or got hit then there was no reason for a 5 minute call. Before I get roasted, hear me out. We all watch other professional racing whether it be F1, WRC, Nascar, or MotoGP. You don’t see those guys calling five minutes. That was my mindset before.
Now that I’ve jumped the fence and started shooting for Team APEXi, I have gone through more than a little eye opening. You see some of these teams are operating with one mechanic with maybe one to two helpers. Not all teams have huge sponsors or have a lot of help. I guess that is what the beauty of Formula D is, the best explanation is that Formula D is the professional grass roots league. For every Falken team, you have a Charles Ng team. And if Falken is the Hendricks Motorsports of Formula D, we still have a ways to go. Hendricks has world class facilities and not even to mention that for every backup motor there is a backup car. In fact there is back up everything, hell if I look hard enough they probably have a back up toilet for their restroom.
In Formula D, we just make do with what we have, in other words, hard work and a little alcohol. For Formula D Atlanta, I flew in with a few of the team members of APEXi on a red eye flight Thursday night arriving in Atlanta Friday morning. Already there was chief mechanic Chuck and driver Ryuji Miki. Chuck has already been updating the transmission and getting the car ready for qualifying. During practicing Friday the Mazda FD RX-7 had a little issue after the 3rd run, it went back and they were working on it. They got the car ready for qualifying, on the first run they scored 79 points and the 12th position overall out of 32. The FD RX-7 ran the second run and couldn’t finish, it ran into some transmission problems. What is so amazing about Formula D is there wasn’t a backup transmission hanging out for them just to hook up and call it a night. Team APEXi had to find ways of either getting a new transmission or some way of getting theirs rebuilt. It was Chuck and Ash all night pulling out the transmission and making sure a new one would fit if they were able to use it. It was another team lending a hand by giving up their backup transmission (luckily they had one) and another team that was able to use parts out of the broken APEXi transmission to get theirs to work. It was amazing to see how all the teams work together even though they are competitors to one another. Can you see Jenson Button’s team giving Lewis Hamilton a transmission to use, hell no that’s because Lewis Hamilton probably has ten of those in his backyard. But even if they didn’t, I’m not so sure they would. All the team needed to push themselves through the night was some Stella, Belvedere, and Gentleman Jack.
Chuck, Ash, and the rest of the APEXi team stayed up till 4am to finish up the transmission and they woke up at 10am to do it all over again for Saturday as Top 32 competition started. So the next time they call a five minute during competition, just kick back stop bitching and imagine owning a drift team running the Formula D series because you know that might be possible one day and that is the beauty of Formula D.
Here is Ash under the car getting the broken transmission out.
Chuck and Ash figuring out size and dimension to make the new one fit.
Here is the old one coming out and the new one getting measure to make sure that everything fits.
New G-Force sequential transmission
The crew working through the night