Global Time Attack Pro Championship Round One: Road Atlanta
It all began with a picture of Erin Sanford's s13 and Kevin Parlett's G35 floating around the internet after their podium finishes in Limited RWD in 2015. Randomly scrolling through instragram, I paused on the picture and thought to myself "Man, Nissans really kill it in this Global Time Attack thing". I was intrigued; so I started to look into it. At the time, my then stock (who am I kidding, its still pretty much stock) Z was just a daily driven weekend warrior track toy. Upon researching GTA and studying the rule book I decided I'd like to compete the Z in Limited RWD some day. At that time, I set a goal for the 2017 GTA Season....
Well, this, that, and the other happened in the months that followed and I found myself in New Orleans spectating GTA Round Two 2015 while my car sat at Enjuku Racing getting it's 8pt custom roll cage fabricated (One might say things escalated quickly).
And now fast forward: We find ourselves, a few days shy of my debut in Global Time Attack... only a year ahead of schedule,
The Friday beforehand I took the Z to play Show Car and debut the new livery at BizSpeed's King of the Streets Events. Much to my suprise she took home Best In Show out of well over 100 cars!
Monday was crazy at the Enjuku Racing headquarters. But the exact amount of crazy you'd expect from a team trying to prep two Formula Drift cars and Global Time Attack car, By the time we retired for the night, it was 3:30am. We met back at the shop at 4:30am and headed out. After a long drive, and of course an obligatory stop at Summit Racing, we made it the track, Nate and Kevin had to tech the Formula Drift cars that evening, so I took that time to unload the car and set up. Wednesday was pretty uneventful, did some exploring, picked fellow GTA driver, Sally, up from the Airport, hit up Taco Mac's with the boys, and got some media content put together.
On Thursday morning, we had practice and qualifying. Everything got off to a great start; we shaved 2 seconds off my previous personal best from my test day in March with a bunch
of 1:40's. We were really stoked on that and decided not to push too hard during qualifying. Being somewhat tragically underpowered in my class (nearly a 300whp deficit from most the cars), I approached the weekend with a simple goal of breaking into 1:30's regardless of where that would land me in my class.
Friday morning rolled around, and I was to grid with Group B for the day based off all our qualifying times. We struggled with set up tweaks all day, and for some reason, whether it was me getting slower or the track getting slower I found myself back in the 1:42's despite feeling much smoother and faster than yesterday's practice sessions. I was certainly feeling a little defeated and frustrated towards the end of the day, but at the same time, I was hell bent on getting that 1:39....
On Friday night, I traded my steering wheel for an umbrella to accompany Team Enjuku drivers Kevin Lawrence and Josh McGuire to the Formula Drift opening ceremonies.
Heading into Saturday I was fueled by the frustrations from Friday's affairs. I was up far too late studying video and data, hunting for those two seconds back. Wanting to understand where I had lost the time. We decided to drop the tire pressures quite a bit off the bat, starting at 25 cold. Rolling out of the pits for my first session on Saturday morning, I told my crew chief "I'm either getting faster, or going four wheeling". He sent me off with a thumbs up and a smile. I don't think I have ever scared myself on the track as much as I did in that session. I pushed every braking zone back another 50 feet, and started using second gear in turns 7 and 10A/B. When I pulled into the hot pits to check pressures and temps, I was met by Element Tuning's, Phil Grabow and well, you'll see (watch video below and please excuse my language):
The personal successes didn't stop there. Naturally, the first thing I said to my Crew Chief was "Rad, where's that 38 at though?". So we buckled down, watched some footage, reviewed the data, and found some time. Session two became a throw away session when I realized there was oil coming out of my hood vents... Apparently I didn't tighten my oil cap after adding oil earlier that morning. Yikes. So Kevin Parlett stepped in to save the day, lending me his oil cap so I could get back out there in the 3rd session (Thanks Kevin!). It just so happened that his oil cap must be a go fast charm, because I managed to drop into the 38's that session. Which honestly, surprised me. I felt like that car gave me everything she had that session, and I am still impressed. Anyways, enjoy some in car footage of one the 1:38 laps:
No podium finishes for me this weekend, but always super awesome to see so many good friends earning their way up there! My 1;38 was good enough for 7th in Limited RWD, and I'm feeling pretty confident that once we address the power deficit, this car will be one to watch out for. This weekend was surreal for me, being on the same track as the legendary Lyfe World Time Attack GTR, watching so many friends break track records, and having this car give me every ounce of what she had to give really lit a fire in my heart. There's a storm brewing; and I can't wait for GTA Round Two at NOLA in October.
Thank you so much to Jason Dienhart and the GTA crew for hosting a killer, sold out event!
And of course thank you Enjuku Racing, Fortune Auto, and Maxxis Tires for your stellar trackside support. I am so blessed to be supported by companies who go the extra mile for their drivers. Last, and certainly not least, thank you to my rockstar mother, for not letting my head get the best of me, for being my biggest fan, and for spending a weekend that is rightfully yours, following me around the race track. I love you, Pnut!
N E X T S T O P : HyperFest / Tire Rack Ultimate Track Car Challenge at VIR!