Our new series, The Drivers View, takes you into the drivers seat at Formula Drift Pro and Proam events around the country. Hear firsthand how the events went, as we let the drivers and team do the talking! This time we hear from Alex Lichliter, driver of the Mission Dispensary Toyota GT86 from Maryland, and how his weekend at The East 10 Drift Formula Drift ProAm series Round 1 went.
RD1 of the East10Drift Formula Drift PRO/AM Series @ Lebanon, TN
Photos by Rob Goodwin
Chris and Jimmy left town Thursday night with the truck, trailer, and race car to head from Maryland to Nashville. My additional teammates, Nate (my Spotter), Stevie (my girlfriend), and myself had planned to fly into Nashville Friday night, to be ready for race day on Saturday. I was notified around noon on Friday, that all flights to Nashville had indeed, been cancelled due to weather. Being familiar with the aviation industry, I was determined to still get us there! A fan of ours (Corey), lives in Atlanta, and had told us he would be leaving early in the morning to make the drive to Nashville to attend the event.
After spending 9 hours at BWI airport attempting to take other routes to get us to Nashville, we made the decision to fly into ATL and ride with our friend Corey in the morning! After this decision was made, Nate had to let us know he would not be able to make it. Stevie and I finally got on a flight to Atlanta, and arrived at midnight. We Uber’d to Corey’s apartment, and got settled in at 1am. 3 short hours later, we woke up to make the 4 hour drive to Nashville. With the time zone change, we had arrived just 30 mins before the mandatory drivers meeting.
Nashville Superspeedway was a FAST track. Fastest I’ve ever been! First turn was easily over 100mph. I’ll be honest, I never actually looked down at the speedometer because at those speeds, your looking at the road! I was so excited to finally be there, after the adventures I had endured the night before. The weather was not on our side at all. During the 2 hours of qualifying, it had rained the entire time. Drifting tactics change significantly on a wet course verses a dry course (its much more challenging). The rain started to ease up towards the end of qualifying, which also changes driving conditions too.
That being said, I had qualified 13th out of 32 (which I was happy with). After qualifying, we had another drivers meeting to discuss the competition bracket and how it worked. This competition utilizes a double elimination bracket, which allows you to have a fighting chance to get back into the game if you loose a battle (where in the past, if you lost, you were done for the day).
I was the 7th battle, against someone who qualified lower than me. By the time it was our turn to drift, the rain had stopped and the pavement was dry! As we were live in competition, I had no time to practice/make adjustments for the dry conditions. So I sent it! I went faster than I had gone all day, I threw more angle throughout the turn, and when it came time to slow down, I pulled on the ebrake harder than I had all day. To my surprise, I had actually ran my best Lead run all day! I was sure that I was going to win this round. It was now time to switch and allow my opponent to lead, while I chased him. To secure my win, I thought it would be best to not run an aggressive chase, as I didn’t want to make any mistakes. I left a lot of room between him and I, and I just focused on trying to run his line, all the way to the finish. I was hoping that my opponent would make a mistake on his lead run, or not have as great as a lead run as I did, giving me the win. When we pulled up to the scoring official, he had signaled to me that I had lost! I was informed that my opponent had an awesome lead run as well, so the judges went back to the chase runs and saw that his was more aggressive, giving him the win. Boy was I salty! But I had done it to myself. I wasn’t mad at the judges, or my opponent. I knew this was all on me. But it was ok, because instead of traditionally going home, I was now put in the losers bracket and given another chance to get back into the game!
In both the Winners/Losers brackets, there were two slots for bye runs. Its just how the bracket worked out with the quantity of drivers that were able to make it past qualifying. I was lucky to have received one of the bye runs. It means it was an automatic win for me, and I would advance onto the next round. (I think I received it because of my qualifying score? but I’m not sure, could have just been luck). This put me at battle number 34.
That means I was sitting for 3.5 hours waiting for my flighting chance to get back in the game. In that time frame, I was starting to get fatigued, I was switching body temperatures from hot to cold as I took off my race suit. Tires were cooling off, not being as sticky, engine temperature had cooled off completely, not being at normal operating temperature. I’m making a lot for excuses, but the bottom line is my head wasn’t in it as I had been out for so long waiting.
As the time came closer for me to race, I was told I would have to face one of the fastest, most aggressive drivers of the day. To my understanding, he had been running all day, getting plenty of track time and adjusting to track conditions. To add to the level of trepidation, it started to rain. It had been almost 4 hours since I had been out on track, and the last time I was, it was dry! When it came time to battle, I made mistakes both on my lead run, as well as my chase run. I clearly knew I had lost and was out for the remainder of the day.
Despite my loses, I had a wonderful time at NSS, and I hope I’m able to have the opportunity to run that venue again. The car performed flawless, I didn’t have any mechanical problems, I didn’t destroy and exterior body panels, and because of the rain, I only used one set of tires during practice, and another during comp. My team is always there for me and extremely supportive. Overall for RD1, I came in 19th place out of 32.
I cant wait for RD2, only 3 weeks away!
Shoutout to the sponsors…
Mission Medical Dispensaries
Eldersburg Car Care
Maryland Mobile Dustless Blasting & Restoration
Pure Automotive Performance
Lee’s Welding & Fabrication
Absolute Perfection Window Tinting & Graphics
Kismet Cafe, Eldersburg
Thank you to Alex and Mission Dispensary for sharing their weekend with us!
You can Follow Alex on social media at…
Also JAC Motorsports
All Photos by Rob Goodwin
East10 Drift ProAm Series 2019 Points after Round 1