Ryan and I hosted a private drift session today at a potential venue for future drifting events. Eight of us arrived and ran, to show the Westerner Grounds in Red Deer a little bit of drifting. Circumstances limited us to a quarter section of the enormous lot the CSCC uses to hold their auto-x but we still managed a couple simple 2nd gear courses. I hope everyone had fun, and learned a lot! I am certainly hoping for the opportunity to do it again.
This event, like past drifting events has certainly revealed my competitive nature in auto sports. I find myself not at all content to watch others do their own things on these courses, and I am bored to go out most of the time with my only objectives being to clear corners. On a big lot with only a few cones, there are suddenly an infinite number of ways to clear the corner and by my own perception I have a difficult time judging if what I did was good or better… or even what I wanted to do in the first place. So in the end… at a glance everyone looks pretty much the same. (Boring stuff) As Andrew put it… “it’s like going to a shooting range, setting up a thousand targets and then firing and hitting something. Nice Shot? … well… what were you even aiming at?” (I’m sorry Andrew… I don’t do your genius justice.) So for me, the real fun part came when I changed the course to one single corner which I hoped would mimic the main corner from Ebisu East (??). That is, a major decreasing radius corner with a slight bend on entry. I wanted to mark both the insides and outsides of the corner with cones to mimic an actual road and limit my line options. It was super hard, and I probably only nailed it two or three times, and came really close (bogging on exit) another two or three times. With people watching, it was embarrassing to try and fail, especially when only a couple of people actually understand what I’m trying to do… but I went and went and went. I actually would have enjoyed getting it wrong if I didn’t have to think about not looking like an idiot.
It went like this… I set up a cone that marked the point where I wanted to turn in and initiate. I quickly realized that finding enough speed in my 100hp 86 to initiate at this point was a whole task in itself and required me to do a full lap around the boundaries of our course, even then I was wishing for more speed. So lined up… and at my marker, I would clutch kick and turn in. This was a new method of initiation for me and I’ve decided that I much prefer it to feint or braking primarily because it lets me enter as fast as possible, and I don’t bleed speed swinging the car back and forth or getting on the brakes to transfer weight forward. From initiation, came the most difficult part: getting back off the throttle and bleeding speed sideways in as straight as line as possible and setting myself up for the tightening corner. When I screwed up, I did so by going off the course, and to the inside of the corner. If I did manage to get that part right though, it was really difficult to keep the line tight on exit and still maintain angle. This meant bleeding speed off the gas, and using clutch work.
I guess the clutch work is what I brought back from this event. I’ve never really played with my clutch before just because I haven’t had a need and because I’ve been afraid of hurting the car too much. It has become clear now, that sawing at the wheel to maintain angle can severely limit me from taking a precise line. I’m talking about placing the nose of the car within a foot or two of a marker and there is just not room for yanking back and forth in that case. Instead I learned to keep the angle with the clutch and throttle, and drive an exact line with my hands. And… when I say clutch work, I’m not talking about what I would typically call kicking. Yes I’m actually kicking on entry, but mid-corner it’s more modulating than on/off and I’m holding the pedal half way at times to keep the revs up and the tires spinning. This is something I saw watching Orido drive the Ebisu corner in a stock powered 86. Works super well.
Running the same corner backwards was a major highspeed affair and the maybe the most fun corner yet. Initiate with a clutch kick again, but this time no backing off the throttle. Stay on it all the way. Wow.
Ryan progressed seriously as the day progressed, and in the end put a run together that looked great (I hope I looked so good)… before blowing a tire. In the car with him, he had a couple clutch-kicking initiations that were so sharp and hard I was spazzing. I think he must have the timing of it a little better, because when he does it right he goes from zero angle to needing full lock in a blink. All day he seemed to be struggling a little bit with an LSD that wasn’t limiting anything, but as soon as the speeds got bumped up a notch it became obvious that his auto-xing skills do transfer over. After-all… this was only has second time trying to slide! He can share the details of this if he likes.
For the time being, we are waiting to hear some feedback from our venue and considering where to go in the future. Sit Tight… more coming soon.
First, I’ll mention that Mark from Edmonton was extremely impressive and his boro silvia makes me want a pos. Christian from ImportConcern.ca was also remarkable given his experience and I thank them both for coming.
In short, I am finding drifting a whole new challenge. I have been autocrossing for 9 years and when I get sideways, every fiber in me being wants to get that car straight again. My learning curve is steep and it’s a whole new method of car control that is somewhat contradictory to all my past driving goals. I’m gonna get it right though because when it comes to any driving, I have to try to be the best. My morning was slow and the car didn’t like the low speed shit we setup. I took limited runs and had limited success. In the after Q wanted to speed things up and things changed quickly for me. I had a much more enjoyable time and felt I was really getting it right by the end. I didn’t need to rely on spinning tires to keep me sideways. At speed, I could balance the car with just a bit of throttle and steering input and things came together. Of course, my new found success meant that I wanted to spend more time on the course. That lead to obliterated tires and before I new it I had blew out and was just hoping to get home 🙂 More tire carnage here.
Tonight, me and Q found one reason for my difficulties with the lower speed stuff…the LSD that seemed in such good shape when installed about a month ago is now basically open. With the wheels in the air it takes absolutely no effort to break the pre-load. Great.