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July 22, 2012

Northeast MotorFest 2012 A Low-Brain perspective.

If you’ve been following the Drift AllStars championship then you will no doubt be aware of Low-Brain Drifters monster of a PS13, affectionately know as “Armageddon”. This visceral cluster bomb powered by a 600HP Corvette LS derived Mosler engine is a brand-new set up  for the 2012 season and the wrinkles are still being ironed out.  To that end, Low-Brain decided to take the car up to the Northeast Motorfest show held at the Nissan factory in Sunderland. I was invited along for the ride.

Arriving at Low-Brain’s Lydney based workshop at at around midday, the first job was to get the newly fitted Wisefab front suspension set up properly. A local company with a Hawk-eye laser alignment center was called upon and bombarded with various units of measurement for castor, toe, and camber.

With the car set up and everyone happy it was back to the unit to wait for the hire van to arrive.

             

With all that hard work out of the way, the van arrived and was promptly stuffed full with tyres, tools, merchandise and everything else needed a few days on the road.

             

Leaving at around 6pm it was going to be a long drive to the Nissan factory in Sunderland (7 hours all told) The saving grace being that we had some eye candy in front of us.

Arriving at the car park set aside for the event long after all the other teams had left for the hotel, we quickly unloaded the show tent and set it up over the car.

With heavy eye lids we headed to the hotel, sank a few beers and turned in for the night. The alarm clocks going off FAR too early for my liking. I clumsily gathered my camera gear together and we headed back to Nissan. With most teams already set up we hastily unloaded the car and set the stand up. The driver, Dan Chapman, was there waiting for us having left London at some ungodly hour and eager to get some more seat time behind the wheel.

The car was constantly surrounded by a throng of aghast on-lookers, more so when the starter motor kicked the incredibly eager V8 into life. The Kinsler ITB’s doing battle with the exhaust to rupture peoples ear drums and make small children run for their mothers.

With the morning disappearing it was time to get the car on track.  The Hockey stick shaped course was brilliant for the crowds allowing fast entries and a tight hairpin right in front of the spectators who were atop a bank, allowing them almost stadium style views.

With two runs done, Chapman was headed back to the pits reporting a worsening slipping clutch. James Bull, the chief mechanic, quickly had the car up in the air and bled the clutch to try and get the car back out for rest of the session. Unfortunately the car made it a few meters and refused to go any further. The problem was evidently more serious.

With it still being early in the day, it was decided to get the car up in air and remove the Jericho dog-box to see if the problem could be remedied.

             

With everyone getting stuck in, the exhaust, prop and gearbox cross member were removed and the gearbox itself was on the floor within 20 minutes. Even after this amount of time the clutch was still too hot to handle. A tea break seemed like a logical next step. When the clutch was finally removed it was quickly apparent there was an issue. The car uses a triple plate clutch pack, this increases the friction area whilst keeping the diameter smaller than a conventional clutch, thus reducing it’s rotational mass. It was later concluded that the pressure plate had failed and wasn’t clamping the clutch plates together with enough force, this resulted in the slipping reported by Chapman. It also created a lot of heat. So much so that the plates had welded themselves together.

All in all, a long weekend and not very long on the track. Big Ju (Team Owner) was quick to put a positive spin on the situation and pointed out that it was better that it happened at a demonstration event rather than at one of the Drift Allstars rounds. A new clutch has already been sent out and fitted ready for Round 3 in Punchestown, Ireland this coming weekend (27th – 29th July 2012) I hope to see you there cheering on all the teams and drivers who are competing this year. I personally can’t wait!

Head over to Low-Brain’s Facebook page to stay updated on the teams progress – CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

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July 02, 2012

Chevrolet Camaro American Stud.

Photos courtesy of the great Pawel Borowski, check out his Facebook here and get in touch with him if anyone in the Bristol area would like a feature!

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June 29, 2012

Le Mans 2012 Same Old?

So the dust has settled on Le Mans 2012. The public will be driving up and down the Mulsanne straight as if nothing has happened. You could argue not much did…Audi won…again. However this year was one of the best, Even if the result was the same.

First notable excitement was the Nissan Delta Wing. It has (had) half the power, but half the weight. It is also a much cheaper ‘vehicle’ to produce compared to a standard LMP1 Prototype. Is it a glimpse into the future of motorsport? (There were some musings that this would be the new Indy Car Chassis) Or an intriguing technical exercise turned into a PR stunt from Nissan?

Well what it actually turned out to be was, a victim. It was running well whilst its pace was keeping it with the mid LMP2 pack. Then after a safety car restart, an all too keen Toyota Hybrid LMP1, was overtaking round a corner, didn’t quite see the Delta, and bang. An emotional moment felt even by myself. It is such a shame to have to end a race through no fault of your own.

What wasn’t reported live was that the driver Satoshi Motoyama spent around an hour (Reports vary) trying to restart the ‘Bat mobile’. You would think you would give up after a few tries. Maybe 15 minutes at most, but this length of time just goes to show what this car meant to the driver, the team, and the fans. To add to the frustration, lead test driver Marino Franchitti (Younger brother to Dario – Scottish Indy 500 triple winner) hadn’t yet driven the car under race settings…To stop this becoming a heartache sob story then, what caused the safety car..?.

A crash horribly similar to Alan McNish’s last year – the same combination of a LMP1, and a GTE-PRO/AM car. However Anthony Davidson didn’t walk away as easily as the flying Scotsman did. After colliding at 180mph at the entry of the corner, both cars, rolled flipped and smashed into the barrier, with the Ferrari landing on its roof.

 This could have been a lot more serious if the barrier hadn’t stopped either car. I don’t want to point blame with this post, I’ll leave that up to yourselves and YouTube. However it is still a serious crash with Davidson suffering from a broken back. A 10-15% compression of the t11/12 vertebrae means a 3 month recovery time, not a lot of movement, and staring at the ceiling…a lot. However he is alive and that is the main thing.

So back to the main point, a safety car was called out for about an hour, which then came in, which is when the other Toyota hybrid took out the Delta wing (and itself – although some say not directly related…) This sealed the fate of Le Mans. Up till this point, the Petrol Hybrid Toyotas were actually keeping up with the Diesel E-Tron Audis, and having some fun dicing racing manoeuvres. With them gone though, it was an in-house battle between the Audis’.

Still chaos happened though. Both the #2 and #3 Audis/audie? (There is a weird plurality for you) had ‘moments’ where it could have been all over. The real action was happening in the GT class right now however. Corvette v Ferrari V Aston V Porsche – sounds like a euro millions shopping list. Ultimately the Italians would prevail, in a car that was built in 9 hours! After Fisichella (former F1 Driver) parked the original chassis in the wall.

So as to my starting point, yes Audi won, but for the first part of the race, they were neck and neck with a debut factory entry, with a Petrol Flywheel Hybrid engine. The polar opposite in thinking of propulsion given the previous Le mans winners – Diesel. The Toyota piloted by Davidson almost grabbed pole in qualifying too.

So much to think about, and yet those members of the public will be driving up and down the road as per usual thinking of what to have for dinner.

Callum

*There may be the odd Inaccuracy with some of the finer details above, and I’ve skirted over a few issues. 24 hours is a long time to condense into something I hope people may find somewhat interesting.

DeltaWing Le-Mans-24-Hours-ANTHONY-DAVIDSON-CRASH-SPORT-NEWS-PICKS-AFORADIO s1_1 Davidson Crash GT LeMans le-mans-2012-audi-r18-e-tron-2-allan-mcnich-damage-pits 0610LeMans_2002 0 2010-24-Heures-du-Mans-0-HIGHCROFT-RACING-USA-DELTA-WING-NISSAN-FGA-1224A-D32-4949_hd 7395509724_670c81b97b_z

 

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June 28, 2012

ELegANt in old age

History time!
This year marks the half century milestone for a lot of influential British metal;

Notable graduates of the class of ’62 include the MGB

Ford Cortina

…and Triumph Spitfire

But it’s another iconic Brit’ that has influenced this post, the lovely Emma Peel’s (don’t fib, you had a crush on her too) car of choice;

For those that were deprived of The Avengers (not the superheroes, the other ones) in their youth, the saucy spy Miss Peel would dart from one adventure to the next in her sexy Lotus Elan. When I was first exposed to the show (reruns, I’m not that old), I didn’t really care about girls, but glimpsing that lovely Lotus was worth sitting through the terrible fight scenes and awful music.

(Elan sketch by jimbo16v, from the Retro Rides art contest)

The Elan was released to the world in ’62, and Chapman’s slinky roadster re-wrote the rulebook for small sports cars and has performed well in it’s motorsport aspirations until this day. The punchy 1600 Lotus Twin Cam (based on a Ford engine, and incidentally making an appearance in the Lotus version of the mk1 Cortina mentioned earlier) put out ~100bhp. This may not sound much nowadays, but the svelte Elan subscribed to the philosophy that Lotus became synonymous with, “Simplify, then add lightness”; the Elan mounted a lightweight fiberglass body atop a rigid steel backbone. Independent suspension and disc brakes at each corner (pretty revolutionary at the time) garnered high praise of it’s handling abilities, and made it a properly chuckable little thing.

In fact, the Elan was held in such esteem that it is widely agreed that Mazda used it as a main inspiration point for the venerable MX5, another small roadster that delivers a big wad of fun despite a modest power output.

During its 13 year production run, the Lotus went through various iterations and bodystyle varients, but all remained true to the underlying principles that made the car so special in the first place.

The name was revived in 1989 for the m100 Elan, Lotus’ first (and only) commercial foray into front wheel drive cars under their own brand label. The design used an Izuzu-sourced lump, and followed it’s ancestors’ with a fiberglass-over-steel construction. Despite the unconventional layout, the m100 was said to handle excellently, and to this day still ranks well on lists of fun FWD cars. Unfortunately, poor financial control over the project and disappointing sales meant that the m100 nearly ruined Lotus. Oops.

So anyway, Happy Birthday Elan, thank you for your contributions to the motoring world. And for introducing me to the lovely Emma Peel.

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June 13, 2012

A closer look >>> ill-Repute Stickers, Wraps & Clothing

Some may have heard of ‘Ill-Repute’, others may be more familiar with the owners former company ‘Precision Drift Clothing’…But unless you’ve been under a rock, there’s little way you have not noticed any of Craig’s crazy creations!

 

Craig Western is the creator and founder of ‘Ill-Repute’.  After also starting ‘Precision Drift Clothing’ a few years back, he sold the company on and decided he wanted a fresh start. A new image was born and along with it, Craig’s unique look at the drift world as he see’s it, personified into a limited range of awesome graphics.

There’s rarely anything normal about what Craig does…He wraps bikes, he wraps Quads and most importantly he wraps cars!  From Sid Crawfords BDC Laurel in pink and black custom skulls to his own BMW 5 series, wrapped entirely in textured crocodile effect vinyl…everything he touches becomes stand out. I have been lucky enough to own a car Craig’s had his way with. I am, of course, talking about the White Navan. At a glance, hardily ‘covered’ in stickers… but it doesn’t always have to be over the top. The Navan had a full, yet subtle, skull decal set applied to the boot, along with Craig’s own sticker bombs on the steering wheel and scuttle panel ( a trend which quickly caught on).

So we’ve seen the ‘drift’ cars.. but how about something a little more up market? How about a GT40…being wrapped live, in Westfield shopping centre , in front of hundreds of people, promoting Forza Motorsport for the XBox 360. No pressure eh Craig!

So I’ve mentioned Sid’s Laurel and the croc 5 series, but there’s one or two other cars you’ve probably seen before too… Laura ‘Lozza’ Hinks and her famous ‘Glitter Blue’ S14, that’s competing in this years British Drift Championship was a full wrap carried out by Craig, as was Stiggy’s (Steve Evan’s) Starlet, sporting the ‘Drift Shack’ trademark urban camo and ‘Auto-glym’d’ roof.  After having a quick browse on the Ill-Repute site (see end of article for links) One car really caught my eye; a Vauxhall Monaro 6ltr LS2 with its front half covered in £50 notes… with them lighting up and burning up as they reached the rear. After a little investigation it seems they have all be laid on separately! Patience of a saint? I think so! It’s not limited to cars though, company Vans, race trucks, coach’s and pretty much any other vehicle you can think of are not an uncommon sight to see at Craig’s work.

One happy Stig!

Its not all about stickers and wraps though, Ill-Repute also offers clothing, from stocked items to custom bespoke designs made just for you. One thing I love about the Ill-Repute stuff is you really can spot it a mile off. Craig’s created an awesome image for the company already and there’s still so much more to come. After a recent chat, there is a fresh selection to the ‘Dirty little ghetto kids’ stickers coming soon (can’t wait!) as well as new Drift, skate and BMX items.

As a graphic designer myself, it amazes me how Craig manages to keep coming up with such new and unusual designs. In the past i have wrapped a few things and the level of concentration, skill and patience required is huge ( I peaked at a bonnet… ie, a pretty flat surface!) so seeing Craig effortlessly transform a car in hours is quite a wonder. Its refreshing to see someone so passionate and excited about their work. I’ve spoken to Craig on a few occasion and he always seems to make time to chat or go over any ideas Ive had.

Status Error and myself wish Craig all the best in the future and urge you to check out his Facebook page and his new website for updates and the release of his new lines of merch. I’ve just clicked ‘pay now’ on a ‘Lucky 13′ drift club sticker.. what will you choose?

To visit the Ill-Repute Facebook page, click here – don’t forget to ‘like and share’!

To visit the Ill-Replute website, click here!

 

 

 

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June 08, 2012

British Drift Championship Round 2 Norfolk Arena Night Time Skids

Any drift event at Norfolk arena is usually a good one, so when I realized that my local (ish) drifting venue was hosting the BDC on a day I could actually attend I was pretty pleased.

Those who have been to Norfolk before will be well aware of its unique ‘family like’ atmosphere. Everyone seems to know everyone. Everywhere you look, you recognize someone chipping in; taking tickets, helping with the track, marshaling or doing a sterling job of making sure all the cars shoot of the line in style! I am of course, talking about the Norfolk Drift Team (find them on Facebook!). They help out with all the BDC events across the country and also the practice days too.  They really are the glue (cable ties?) that hold a lot of drifty related stuff together so I’d like to think it’s pretty rewarding to see the British Drift Championship wagon roll up to Norfolk and have everyone leave with smiles on their faces.

This year was no different. I was able to attend the Saturday/main event. It was disappointing to miss out on the qualifying as there are a lot of cars and drivers that don’t make it through to the top 16 and it’s a shame to miss out on them, in particular, there’s a photo of an Opel Manta BDC car circulating at the moment! I want to see that skid!

Qualifying on Tuesday led to some surprises. Some of the certainties that we always see breeze into the top16 didn’t and some that never usually quite make it..did!

Qualifying results from the Friday(taken Directly from the BDC homepage):

SEMI PRO

Position Driver Driver Run 1 Run 2 Run 3 Highest
No
1 65 Gareth Taylor 75 67 70 75
2 52 Brian Egan 70 0 73 73
3 67 Owen Taylor 65 0 70 70
4 40 Stuart Egdell 69 0 0 69
5 26 Brad Wallbank 46 68 0 68
6 43 Noel Phipps 36 0 66 66
7 80 Max Marshall 65 60 63 65
8 33 Lewis Cracknell 61 0 65 65
9 12 Matt Samuel 0 56 65 65
10 9 Ian Rutherford 64 0 62 64
11 18 Matty Stevenson 64 0 61 64
12 73 Jay Green 53 64 54 64
13 11 Jake Spiggott 0 0 64 64
14 61 Adam Simmons 61 0 63 63
15 71 Laura Hinks 62 59 50 62
16 41 Ricky Emery 49 53 62 62

PRO

Position Driver Driver Run 1 Run 2 Run 3 Highest
No
1 31 Matt Campling 70 82 74 82
2 52 Brian Egan 78 81 0 81
3 79 Jamie Kenyon 77 80 78 80
4 45 Hugo Fernades 67 74 78 78
5 14 Jamie Kay 72 0 77 77
6 38 James Fuller 68 76 72 76
7 48 Paul Murphy 71 76 70 76
8 65 Gareth Taylor 73 74 75 75
9 68 John Glaister 64 69 75 75
10 26 Ross Gregory 0 74 73 74
11 30 Anthony Mortley 70 74 71 74
12 69 Belinda Challis 71 69 74 74
13 73 Christan Lewis 70 69 74 74
14 39 Andrew Kenna 57 72 73 73
15 35 Justin Clarke 68 70 0 70
16 34 Alex Law 0 66 70 70

Super Pro

Position

Driver

Driver Run 1 Run 2 Run 3 Highest
No
1 14 Shane O’Sullivan 88 91 88 91
2 2 Mark Luney 81 81 88 88
3 3 Wayne Keeber 85 0 86 86
4 99 Marc Huxley 86 75 80 86
5 4 Shane Lynch 0 0 86 86
6 6 Stephen Biagioni 80 80 85 85
7 11 Alan Green 83 0 79 83
8 22 Wesley Keating 82 0 82 82
9 7 Steve Moore 77 79 82 82
10 8 Paul Smith 81 73 0 81
11 18 Jody Fletcher 80 75 80 80
12 51 Micheal Marshall 78 80 0 80
13 33 Barry Leonard 80 0 74 80
14 9 David Waterworth 76 78 78 78
15 5 Simon Perry 0 76 78 78
16 13 Danny O’Brien 0 78 73 78

 

One person who I was really pleased to see make it to the top 16 was Laura Hinks, aka ‘Lozza’ in her Ill Repute wrapped s14. It’s been fun watching her build her s14 via Facebook and seeing how anxious she’s been getting about her first BDC event (sadly, Loz couldn’t make round 1!). Thankfully, it all went pretty well from what I could see, and although she was knocked out in the top 16 battles against Brian Egan, Loz looked every part a pro drifter, pulling some great angle and smokes! Good luck with the rest of the Season!

Now, I can’t just mention the name ‘Brian Egan’ without elaborating a tiny bit. The man and the car are awesome. Brian drives a Ae86…with an s2000 engine in it! Named the angry Hornet, Brian’s team, Dealt Width seem to be a force to be reckoned with. Throughout the whole day, no one even came close to producing the levels of door to door entertainment Brian and his Corolla did. In fact, at one point, he gave his opponent a friendly tap in the door as they rounded the final corner of the course. Absolutely fantastic driving that I can’t wait to see more of next time at Teesside!

Saturday had certainly started with a bang. Norfolk BDC starts slightly later on a Saturday which meant even I got a lie in before the 2 hour drive up there! The drifting started right on que and for the next few hours it was real edge of seat stuff. Norfolk arena never seems a large place but the layout of the track certainly used every spare inch available. It was great to see drivers really pushing to get the clips. A lot of drivers soon fell foul to the ‘two wheels of track’, where if two or more wheels strayed of track you got an automatic ‘0’.

Soon it was time for the final battles in Semi-pro. Unsurprisingly, Brian Egan was there, lining up against Gaz Taylor. An OMT (one more time) was called and the outcome was left for us all to ponder over…

The Pro class saw some awesome driving and talent. I have to say, it’s a real credit to the guys who sort out the licenses for these events. The jump in skill was obvious. On many occasion it was down to consistency on which car made it through to the next round. A local to us, Ross Gregory (in his s14.3) was up against Paul Murphy in his super bright Pink s14.5. This was Murphy’s Debut to the BDC and despite Ross’s speed and incredibly close clips it was Paul that had the edge and went to the next round.

I have huge respect for people who drive their cars to events – go hard – then drive home again. The same goes for a drift day too. Alex Law arrived in his BDC prepped road car, went balls out and drove home again.  Despite being knocked out against Matt Campling from Team Dori Hero both he and the car looked fantastic.  He is a driver to watch this season.

The Pro final consisted off Matt Campling and Paul Murphy. Campling ran wide causing Murphy to take avoiding action as he passed him.  With a victory almost certain, it was great to see Murphy giving it some serious pedal as he crossed the line.

As dusk approached the Super pro class go underway. Shane Lynch, usually the driver of the Japspeed s15 had been forced to drive the Japspeed Subaru due to issues on Friday with his car.  It was as if the jz’d Scooby had been his all along as he thundered straight into the ‘Great 8’ (although it should be pointed out his opponent, Mike Marshal in the MnM s15 was forced to retire mid battle).

The rest of the driving in the super pro class was near on flawless. I would hate to have been the one judging it. It was interesting to watch the Viper Powered s15 do battle against Wayne Keeber from SATs.  The engine may be awesome, but something tells me it may be a bit too heavy for the s body chassis as the car bounced around the track and eventually span…twice. With any luck, its driver, David Waterworth with have the handling issues sorted for the next round. It certainly sounded the part!

The Super Pro final had Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith and Steve Moore door on door as they did battle. Both cars seemed identical in the lines they took. This caused a OMT from the judges so once again the guys went all out. AGAIN the judges couldn’t decide, and nor could the crowd. With some saying it was clear cut both ways and others just totally unsure. A OMT was called, and it was pretty clear that this was it. It was sudden death! Any small error would be picked up and the driver marked down. Both guys drove their hearts out and given that they had been sat in hot smoky skid cars neither seemed to want to let up. A decision was made.

Here are the results and points, taken from the BDC site.

Semi Pro Class results

Position Driver No Driver Points

1

52

 Brian Egan

30

2

65

 Gareth Taylor

27

3

73

 Jay Green

21

4

67

 Owen Taylor

19

5

40

 Stuart Egdell

16

6

80

 Max Marshall

14

7

12

 Matt Samuel

12

8

18

 Matty Stevenson

10

9

33

 Lewis Cracknell

8

10

26

 Brad Wallbank

8

11

43

 Noel Phipps

8

12

9

 Ian Rutherford

8

13

11

 Jake Spiggot

8

14

61

 Adam Simmons

8

15

71

 Laura Hinks

8

16

41

 Ricky Emery

8

PRO Class
Position Driver No Driver Points

1

48

 Paul Murphy

28

2

31

 Matt Campling

27

3

79

 Jamie Kenyon

22

4

73

 Christian Lewis

18

5

14

 Jamie Kay

16

6

38

 James Fuller

14

7

65

 Gareth Taylor

12

8

35

 Justin Clarke

10

9

52

 Brian Egan

10

10

45

 Hugo Fernades

8

11

68

 John Glaister

8

12

26

 Ross Gregory

8

13

30

 Anthony Mortley

8

14

69

 Belinda Challis

8

15

39

 Andrew Kenna

8

16

34

 Alex Law

8

Super Pro
Position Driver No Driver Points

1

7

 Steve Moore

28

2

8

 Paul Smith

24

3

33

 Barry Leonard

21

4

6

 Stephen Biagioni

18

5

2

 Mark Luney

18

6

3

 Wayne Keeber

15

7

4

 Shane Lynch

12

8

13

 Danny ‘O Brien

10

9

14

 Shane ‘O Sullivan

11

10

99

 Marc Huxley

8

11

11

 Alan Green

8

12

22

 Wesley Keating

8

13

18

 Jody Fletcher

8

14

51

 Michael Marshall

8

15

9

 David Waterworth

8

16

5

 Simon Perry

8

See you at Teesside!

Huge thanks to our two photographers at the event, Matt Cross and Chris Wiltowski. They produced some great pictures, check out their pages for more on the Norfolk Arena BDC!

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