Formula Drift’s 4th round was another crazy one for me. Working with the Kado crew meant an awesome road-trip to cover, and another event of not being able to shoot while Ryan is driving due to my spotting for him. In addition, the weather gods made the trip very interesting both at the track, and out on the open road. Check out Bohan’s news flash from right after the storm hit on Friday.
Waiting, waiting, waiting in the airport. We had left the car & rig in Florida after the previous event, and flew back to Sacramento. This time, we were waiting to fly back to sunny Palm Beach so we could trailer the car up to FD New Jersey.
We waited in the terminal for a while, then we got called up to take our seats… and ended up waiting some more! I love flying! Here’s the first snap you’ve seen (other than the title pic) with the nifty little 8mm I rented for this trip! Get used to it, you’re going to be sick of Fisheye by the time this article is through. It’s a unique perspective though… fun when used sparingly.
We arrived at the rig from the airport, killed a half dozen black widows, and hit the road. The little dishes of fabric softener we left out in the truck didn’t quite cover the sweaty man-stench so we rolled with the windows down in the mild Florida weather for a while. That was until the place started to smoke up, and there were fires everywhere! For the last 160 miles of Florida, and on into more northern territories, the air was filled with smoke. Blech!
Pretty soon the sun and smoke turned to a good ol’ east coast rainstorm. We pulled into a gas station to fill up the rig, and I noticed this car pull in. Other than BG’s car, this was the flushest, sickest looking thing I had seen in Florida. Yeah, yeah, it’s FWD… But David, the owner, is a devout drift fan. He knew who Ryan Kado was, knew about OMGDrift, and I schooled him on LifeBlasters and gave him a sticker. Always nice meeting friendly drift-fans on the road!
Florida is covered in this stuff called Kudzu. Kudzu was introduced from Japan into the USA at the Japanese pavilion in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It is now common along roadsides and other undisturbed areas throughout most of the southeastern United States. Kudzu has been spreading at the rate of 150,000 acres annually. In Vietnam, it is called sắn dây. Another interesting thing about Florida and much of the southeast is that everywhere around you, where you would think there’s dirt, it’s all sand. Weird.
20hrs later, we arrived at our hotel near Wall, NJ. RKR Crew Chief Ry Moore and I went to JFK airport to pick up Tandem of Die in the tow rig (trailer detached thankfully). New York has some narrow bridges! Some had lanes that were barely big enough for a dually truck to fit into. Fortunately, at the ripe old age of 19, Ry is a brilliant first-time NYC driver. He navigated that truck like it was a sport-bike all the way to the airport without one mistake. Hats off, Ry!
Upon our arrival at JFK, I promptly slapped an LB sticker and grabbed a shot before Justin and Joe showed up, weary from their grueling plane ride across the country.
What’s this, you ask? Another giant gap? Yup! Because of my duties with the team, I had to sneak in shots when I could get them. It’s okay though, being Ryan’s spotter has been a lot of fun! When he does well, I blame myself. 😉
Ryan is always on his cell phone. Whether it’s playing pokemon, watching Team Burst videos on YoutTube before his tandem runs, or his constant tweeting, he just can’t put the thing down. Follow him @RyanKadoRacing!
…and just like that, we skipped over an entire day! Thursday was a good day at the track for team RKR, It was Ryan’s first time drifting a bank with that kind of slope, but he adapted to it quickly and became comfortable with riding the wall in no time.
Insiders tip: Tandem of Die loves cuddling up and looking at pics of themselves on facebook. If you want them to like you, just take pictures of them! Instant best friends.
Daniel Chow (pictured above) is one hell of a spotter. He usually spots for Matt Field, but this time he was hired on by Jim Guthrie’s team. If you know Jim Guthrie, you know his spotter has his hands full. Danny did an excellent job of helping him improve. With his help, Jim could be running with the big guys next season!
Ryan did GREAT in qualifying! Ninth overall against a field of drivers he has looked up to for years. He must have a good spotter 😉 Also, big thanks to the voice of FD, Jarod DeAnda, for shouting out ThunderDrift, the NorCal FD ProAm series I promote!
After qualifying day, and the horrific rainstorm you read about in Bohan’s post, I went with a bunch of FD media bosses to a Hibachi joint right down the street from the track. It was a great time hanging out with all of these people. They’re my best friends at the track, but I rarely have a chance to hang out with them outside of work. We waited for a long time before the grillmaster came to prepare our feast, so in the meantime we played with my 8mm. Even the legendary Linhbergh Nguyen from Speedhunters had a go with it.
In addition to the media crew, the whole Kado team was in attendance! Including one of norcal’s most awesome drifters, and the tallest dude I’ve ever met, Julian Jacobs.
It’s very difficult to get a good shot of Julian doing bed-jumps. He’s so tall, it’s like he takes off and lands at the same time! Why don’t you lose a few feet, Julian! lol!
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bares repeating. No matter how much he sleeps, Justin Shreeve is always tired in the morning. In this picture he was waiting for us to come out from the hotel on our way to the track, and just before we found him one of the hotel employees thought he was dead and called the cops. Needless to say, we hustled Justin quickly into the truck and took off for the track!
On the way to the track Saturday morning we were in high spirits after Ryan’s great success in qualifying, even wedged into a severely over packed truck…
Unfortunately, our joy in arriving to the track on race day was short lived. The RKR 350Z had somehow developed an electrical problem while sitting in the trailer overnight, and the car wouldn’t start. After some much needed assistance from Tex of BRE Motorsports, they determined that the Crankshaft Angle Sensor was kaput. They worked on replacing the sensor all through practice, and it came down to the last minute. I even called his five minute timeout to the judges when his top 32 tandem battle came up, but alas it was to no avail.
Despite the tragic failure of his car, Ryan remained in high spirits for the rest of the event. What a sport!
He even set up a table in front of his pit space and signed memorabilia for fans. Hey, if you didn’t know, this kid has heart. I’m sure he’ll continue rocking for the rest of the season, and I have full confidence that the guys from SR Motorcars will get his mechanical reliability issues worked out.
Here he is sharing a 3-way high five with the Nexen Tire girls, Elysha and Tailyr. Nice shirt Elysha! (she’s the #1 flag-girl for TD ProAm if you didn’t know)
On a lighter note, my good friend Lauren who I went to high school with lives in Washington D.C. and decided to take the weekend off to visit FD New Jersey. I hadn’t seen her in almost eleven years, so it was great to catch up. She knew about drifting already, but I think I may have created a new serious FD fan!
Another high point of the weekend was that our local Norcal boy Conrad Grunewald won the event! Congrats to Conrad on this victory! He’s been working a long time for it.
We left the hotel Sunday morning, and it just so happened that our route north to hit I80 would take us right past the town I was born in, Morristown New Jersey! The guys were nice enough to pull off the highway, and Ryan snapped this shot of me doing a handstand in front of the hospital I was born in. Thanks, Ryan!
After that, Ry and Ryan promptly went to sleep, and stayed asleep only waking when it was one of their turns to drive. …all the way to California.
Driving across I80 didn’t seem like too daunting of a task but as we crossed Iowa, Nebraska, and a few other midwestern states things got scary. Aside from beautiful lightning shows, there were torrential rains, flood warnings, and several tornadoes touched down within 20 miles of us. Fortunately for our sake, they were 20 miles behind us.
The weather was deceptive and always changing. This shot was actually taken mid-day. Yes, it was that dark.
An hour or so later it was beautiful and sunny again.
…Only to switch immediately back to torrential rain.
Remember “the slot” in the tour van from the Jameson articles? Half way home Ry and Ryan discovered that the tow rig has a “the slot” too! Much more comfortable sleeping when you can stretch your legs a bit.
I know this is a rather abrupt ending, but I couldn’t think of a more beautiful picture to end it with. I was extremely lucky to get this shot. Ry had the good sense to stop for fuel at the Sinclair station in Wendover Nevada which just so happens to be the same exit as the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats where they hold annual speed record attempts. I was also very lucky because the sun was just showing light over the horizon, silhouetting the mountains in the background in a most beautiful way. The rest of the trip was boring… I mean, who hasn’t driven between the San Francisco bay area and Salt Lake City at least 100 times?
Stay tuned for RKR coverage from Formula Drift Round 5 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe Washington! It’s coming up on July 22nd!