XDC Round 3 - Orlando, FL May 14-15th
XDC Round 3 took place at the Central Florida Racing Complex in Orlando, Florida this past weekend. The facility has a couple different racing arena, and according to the local guys, the owner has specially set up the track we ran because drifting had been getting so popular at CFRC.
We pulled out of the driveway Thursday morning at about 9am CST. The trip down was good. We went through Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and finally to Florida. Like any good trucker, I try to only stop when we need fuel. (Luckily) My fiance, Mal, will talk me into making more stops at little places we see along the road. I would say the best place we hit up is Fair Oaks Farm, where we were able to stuff ourselves full of dairy (hey, we are from Wisconsin...we love dairy) courtesy of grilled cheese sandwiches and what Mal called “the best chocolate ice cream ever.”
About 1,200 miles, 27 hours and 2 hours of sleep later (12p CST), we arrived at CFRC and unloaded the race trailer and gear out of the back of the truck. I was happy to see fellow ASD Mob drive Lee Alexander had just parked, and we were able to get the spot next to him.
Two other ASD Mob drivers were also at the event, so the four of us were there to represent ASD!
I was able to get my first look at the track and check out the facility. All signs pointed to a good weekend.
That night we hung out in the hotel room. Normally we try to get out and explore the towns we are in, but there were some heavy storms and after that long drive, we were both exhausted. I ended up spending the better part of my evening on the computer watching every clip I could find of drifting on the CFRC course. I knew my buddy Ahmed had totaled his BMW at this track not too long ago, and I had heard of the carnage the krails have dished out, so I tried to prepare myself the best I could.
Saturday was only practice. We were at the track when it opened, per usual, at about 8am. We got our area setup (our little mobile drift home) and after a little bit of socializing it was time to let it hang out.
The first layout we ran was slower and more technical. For those of you who know the track, we basically ran it backwards.
After a few cars met up with the wall, and the judges felt the line was looking unnatural, they decided to change the layout to how it is normally run.
Unfortunately, I only got a handful of runs in the entire day. The track was hot from noon to 5, and the day was plagued with a lot of downtime due to cleanup for crashes and some intense Florida thunderstorms. I did try to practice in the rain, but the car seemed to not want to cooperate and I kept spinning out in the same place. I left the track that day not feeling too confident about my chances of pulling a clean run together for the next day. I just hoped the rain would hold out for Sunday.
I woke up to storms Sunday morning, which was kind of a bummer. However, the forecast only predicted a 30% chance of rain during qualifying and Top 16, so I felt a little more hopeful. After saying goodbye to a bed for the next 36 hours, we got to the track at 7:30am and I started getting ready to compete.
Sunday was practice for about 2 hours, a break, qualifying, a break and driver’s meeting to announce the Top 16, 30 minutes of Top 16 practice and then Top 16 competition. The competition days fly, because not only do you have to really focus on what you are doing (checking tires, fluids, making small adjustments on the car), you have to also be thinking one step ahead (planning tire changes, making sure you are ready for where you need to be next). It is also important to get out and talk to the fans and spectators, and it’s a bonus to be able to walk around the venue to check out the Remix car show.
The weather cooperated and I was able to get in some good practice before qualifying.
Mal gave me her standard pre-qualifying pep-talk (“Balls deep” and a new addition of “Either qualify or put your car into the wall trying to qualify”) I felt pretty good about going into qualifying, but wasn’t quite as confident after my runs. I’m really hard on myself, and probably my biggest critic. I watched the rest of qualifying , and a lot of guys came out with some pretty sick runs. At that point, I really didn’t know if my run was going to be enough. I was psyched to hear that I qualified 8th with a score of 79.
After one run of practice and driver introduction, I was ready to tandem. For the first round I was up against Miro Ovcharik, a driver I met in XDC last year who is really able to throw down with his V8 240sx. Miro had a run-in with the wall earlier on Saturday practice, but I was happy to see he got everything back together and was looking good. I was pretty excited to go against Miro because we have been paired up before and he is an aggressive driver, which makes competing even more fun.
Miro and I matched each other pretty evenly for the first runs, both having smooth lines and hitting the clips. The judges announced ONE MORE TIME and we were off to battle again.
I lead for the first run of the OMT, and Miro gave chase. Leaving the last clip, I glanced in my mirror to see him right behind me. I knew I was going to have to thrown down to beat him on the second run.
On the second run I chased Miro. I stuck door-to-door with him and the judges gave me the win!
The next round I was paired up with 1st place qualifier and all-around awesome driver, Chelsea DeNofa. Chelsea and I both had good runs, however Chelsea stuck a little closer to me than I did to him and Chelsea moved on to eventually finish 2nd.
There were a lot of really impressive drivers at this event, including a few pros. I was happy to finish the weekend in 8th place overall.
I felt challenged at this event, which is always something I look forward to. Competing at new tracks against drivers who can drive as well as the top guys in XDC helps me to step my game up one event at a time. I also learned more about my car, which I am still getting used to. Overall, I felt that the weekend was a success. I will admit, I had hoped to finish a little higher, but it just gives me more motivation for XDC Round 4 in Summit Point, WV!
Immediately after the event finished, we packed up and headed on our long drive home. We made it back to Milwaukee without incident, even though I only got 40 minutes of sleep total and the side of the trailer almost busted out thanks to the tire pile.
All in all, I had a blast in Orlando at XDC! There were so many impressive cars and cool people, I was bummed when the weekend was over. The fans were AMAZING and they really put the event over the top for me.
As always, a huge shout out to thank the companies I am partnered with: ASD MOTORSPORTS, FALKEN TIRES, ENKEI, STANCE, EMS WORLD!! I could not have been successful without them this weekend!!!! Make sure to check them out on the right-side of the website!
I’m going to be up to a few things over the next couple of weeks that I will keep you all updated on, including a Drift Day in Shawano, WI and some other cool stuff. Keep checking back for updates, and always, let me know what you think!
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