2009 Formula Drift Schedule

April 10th-11th Formula D Long Beach

April 16th-19th Team Drift – Streets of Long Beach

May 8th-9th Formula D Atlanta

June 19th-20th Formula D Englishtown, New Jersey

July10th/11th- Formula D Las Vegas

August 7th/8th- Formula D Seattle

September 12th/13th- Formula D Sonoma

October 10th/11th- Formula D Irwindale

TBD- Redbull Drifting World Championship

TBD- Formula D Asia Cup Malaysia

TBD- Formula D Asia Cup Sinagpore

TBD- Formula D Monterey, Mexico

Farewell Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance Magazine

I didnt have the benefit of going to a high school where the untapped potential of import cars was valued by its population of students. The hot cars at my school were the Ford Mustang and Chevy IROC Z or Z28. Being the type to cheer for the underdog, I never really liked either car. It was too easy. Running high 14 second (low 15 second) quarter miles out of the box, there was no challenge to making it faster. Install a pully kit or a set of Dynomax mufflers and you’d probably pick up 5/10ths in the quarter mile. Besides, the Mustang and IROC were never really great looking cars.. they just had the traditional muscle car stance and look to them.

So my friend (Ed) and I would read about all the Japanese imports that we could (remember, there was no internet at this time, yeah, I’m that old). I’d buy Car and Driver, Road and Track, and if I could find it, Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance magazine. The latter two provided us with an idea of where to start. For me, that starting point was the FC3S Mazda RX-7 Turbo II. For Ed, it was the Mitsubishi Starion. But that’s where Car and Driver and Road and Track ceased to be useful. Aside from their published “bone stock” quarter miles and 0-60s, they didn’t offer the evolutionary step into the world of import performance. There were no import “speed shops” like there were muscle car speed shops. There were not even that many owners of modified import cars, much less owners in general. Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance magazine offered a glimpse into the technology behind modifying cars with (relatively) advanced fuel injection systems and turbochargers.

Back then, Turbo & Hi-Tech Magazine was quarterly. It was published by Kipp Kington in Huntington Beach, California. I could never find it at any store except for the Crown Books store in the Laguna Hills Mall. I’d anxiously await the day when it would show up on the store shelf. I recall it would cost $4.95 (and this was at a time when Car and Driver was $2.95). It was a steep price to pay, but it was well worth it.

I credit the magazine for many things.. such as introducing me to HKS Performance Products and an article about high-flow air filters that I quoted from for many many years after that (a clean K&N outflowed paper and foam elements.. and if I recall correctly, a dirty K&N still outflowed foam, but not a new paper element.. however, the shocker was a cleaned K&N, one cleaned using their cleaning kit, would never flow as well as a new K&N filter). It introduced me to the fear of pulling up next to a Buick Grand National/GNX at a stop light. And it also opened my eyes to just how fast a nitrous fed Ford Mustang 5.0 liter was. It ultimately inspired me to work on my own car and to seek out the infamous street races in Hacienda Heights, Compton, and Gardena.

In the past few years, Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance became a news stand pamphlet. The last time I picked one up, it was probably about 50 pages (in its prime, it was about 150 pages). The covers were always uninspiring and they never gave me the same sense of excitement that I used to feel when I bought them in high school. Nevertheless, its sad to see it go.

2008 Formula Drift TV Schedule on SPEED

I just happened to see this in my Google search results and figured it would be good to know if you’re a drifting fan.. but Speed will start broadcasting the 2008 Formula Drift season beginning October 26, 2008. Here’s the complete schedule:

Oct. 26, Streets of Long Beach, Long Beach, Calif., 4 p.m.
Nov. 2, Feel the Heat Braselton, Ga. 4 p.m.
Nov. 9, The Gauntlet, Englishtown, N.J., 4 p.m.
Nov. 16, High Stakes, Las Vegas, Nev., 4 p.m.
Nov. 23, Breaking Point, Monroe, Wash., 4 p.m.
Dec. 7, Locked and Loaded, Sonoma, Calif., 4 p.m.
Dec. 14, Final Fight, Irwindale, Calif., 4 p.m.
Dec. 21 World Drifting Championships, Long Beach, Calif., 4 p.m.

I’m pretty sure I should be clearly visible in the December 14th broadcast, at which time I will be famous.

Formula Drift Finals 2008 @ Toyota Speedway

I’m using the “blog this” function again from Flickr. Its actually quite useful and easy to use. But I wanted to post this photo because I’m still surprised at how well it came out.

This was shot with my Canon EOS 40D and Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS lens. The manual exposure was set at 1/125, f2.8 and ISO1600. I cleaned up the noise using Noiseware Pro. Pureists will say that the pictute has a plastic look to it.. to which I would say STFU 🙂

Click on the picture to see my Flickr album of some of my shots from the 2008 Formula Drift Finals at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, CA.

The Lexus IS-F

I swung by my weekly lunch spot to visit some friends. Lucky for me, they had a newly acquired Lexus IS-F. It was a blue one, same as you’ve probably see so much of in the press. I still don’t know if I like the tacked on looking body parts (mainly that duct behind the front wheels), but it looks much more subdued on a black IS-F.

I had my doubts that Lexus could produce a car that would be viewed as a competitor to the BMW M3, Mercedes’ AMG series (in this case the C63) or even the Audi RS4. Well, all those doubts were laid to rest today when I got a taste of the Lexus IS-F.

Disclaimer: Now, I’m not an automotive journalist. I’m not even that great at writing reviews, much less writing in general. So just take this for what its worth.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about the interior. The dash was kind of cool. There was like a digital voltmeter next to something else. The gauges look good, but probably not that much different, if at all, from the regular Lexus IS. The seats felt good and provided good support.

Driving out of the parking lot, I noticed the suspension felt pretty good, if not a little on the soft side. Now, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t handle well. I’m merely comparing it to my G35 Sport suspension, which is deemed by many to be too stiff. In fact, when I put in my KW Variant III coilovers, I thought my ride got better (and 1.5” lower too). Pulling out onto the street, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sweet sound of the Lexus V8 when the intake butterflies open. I’ve long loved the Honda VTEC when it switches over to the big cam lobes, from mild to wild in a matter of seconds. The IS-F was just like this, but so much sweeter. When the butterflies are closed or you’re at part throttle, the engine and car are very mild, very Lexus-like. But mash the throttle, hold onto the wheel, and wait for the intake to open up (which seemed like milliseconds anyway). It immediately brought back memories of Mike’s 69 Camaro with a 327 small block that revved to 8k RPM (not reliably, but hey, it did it). Its not as “rough” sounding, but its very meaty in tone. I’m sure the M3 will offer the same experience, but I wont know until I drive one 😀 .

The engine pulls strongly, almost effortlessly, up to redline (I’m not really sure where that is and I don’t care to look it up.. but Lexus took a page from Mazda’s playbook by putting in that redline buzzer so you know when its time to shift). The 8 speed trannie shifts are strong, firm, and fast. I’m pretty sure with traction control off and some cheap or worn rubber, you’d be scrubbing into 2nd or even 3rd gear. Whats equally pleasing are the downshifts. The rev matching is damn near perfect. Downshifts are fast and produce euphoric intake and engine noises. I thought having to shift UP 8 times was a pain. But the joy of lighting quick and rev matched downshifts makes it all worth it.

We blasted down a wide and sparsely populated street. I have no idea what gear we made it up to. I just know stuff was flying past by view out the window really quickly. How were the brakes? I have no freakin’ idea. I’ve read that they’re great. But with the hypnotic sounds associated with the downshifts, I wasn’t paying attention to much.

Having only had the car for 4 days with constant mashed pedal situations and an inordinate amount of downshifting, the trip computer still showed 14.9 MPG on the display. My car gets about 18-19 MPG. I feel cheated.

Would I buy it for $60k? I’m not so sure I would. I think my decision would come down to Lexus IS-F or BMW M3 Sedan. Of course, if I wanted a coupe, my one and only choice, for now, is still the Nissan Skyline GTR (maybe even the Spec V or Evo whenever they arrive and/or when I hit the lottery).

Good job, Lexus.