Posted on: January 7, 2014
We are "building Rome", getting our game on piece by piece with a ton of support from the our friends at Advanced Clutch Systems, Champion Spark Plugs, KW Suspensions, Turbo by Garrett, Hankook Tire, Forgestar Performance Wheels, Spyder Lights, Road Race Engineering, Megan Racing, Powered by MAX, 5th Dimension Signworks, Corner3Garage,, Fueled Racing, MotoIQ, AEM, MP Tuning, City Tire Online, Nissan Race Shop, PAC Autobody & Paint, Sparco, Fiveo Motorsport, Baker Precision and many more, and we would like to thank everyone who has lent a hand so far in the process of getting the Rydquist Racing Berk Technology 350Z powered by Champion to what it is today.
It's easy to forget and raise the expectations prematurely since we've been used to winning for over a decade, but we're not road racing now and 2013 is our development year in drifting, Formula Drift is the "Sprint Cup" of drifting = highest level in the world alongside D1 in Japan, and our focus is to build an ultra reliable car and to get data at all tracks, learn the ropes and get me a ton of sideways seat time at the right speeds.

Photo by Road Race Engineering. Our pit setup gets a lot of positive feedback and we're ready to use this as a sponsor activation area at all times. 

In Texas, the Berk Technology team with the additional force from Road Race Engineering provided me with a car that handled the super high temperatures during the four hour long Thursday practice like it was nothing. It's what I call "The Berk Factor", proper prepared and tested. I was able to get a lot of seat time and I tried a few new things/variations as a driver and we always learn something new about what we can and cannot do with our setup.
The Formula Drift course layout in Texas started with a 90-100 mph entry (depending on engine power and gearbox) which probably sounds crazy but that wasn't the hard part of the course. It's followed by a fast chicane and then the most challenging part which was a very long transition where speed needs to be carried at angle for much longer than most cars naturally want to.

The Texas Formula Drift grid was packed with 55 competitors and the team was on point. 

After testing a few things and not liking more than a couple of changes, we stuck close to a setup we know works and I put in two pretty consistent scores, always with line being the priority. Unfortunately we focused on the "wrong" criteria and I broke my M.O. as a driver which has always been smoothness and speed, and I was trying to push harder on angle and snappy transitions where we didn't quite have the wheel speed yet to do that. We're roughly tapped out at 108 mph and for a good transition, we'd need 130mph, which means different gearing and up a gear, which in turn requires even more power than our V8 upgrade gave.

Wheel speed in drifting can carry a drift longer with greater speed and angle and this was definitely the biggest challenge in Formula Drift history with this Texas course layout.
Adding angle mid drift counts as a correction although my 72.1 point score after first qualifying landed us a 25th spot. We were however looking for at least 82 at this event in the second run in order to stay firmly in the Top 32 but the second run was almost identical in score, again due to little angle corrections and a dirt drop.

The Berk team is here to stay and they prepped an amazing car for me. Remember, we're only just getting started. 
To give some insight here, these two blurry screenshots are from the livestream of the second qualifying, and the first one shows where I lost 5 points, it's close enough to the outside but there's a small angle correction (-2.5p) as I added angle, and then another deduction (-2.5p) when I pushed to keep the angle wide although the car with this wheel speed naturally wants to straighten out.

It was then followed by a dirt drop as can be seen to the right, which means a wheel in the dirt just outside the kerbs (-5p). Normally, and as I did in my first qualifying run, it's easy to stay within the track boundaries but adding in the extra angle when pushing the car for a higher score, moved the car just a foot over the edge.
You could reflect and say that's a little steep but it shows how easy it is to lose 10 points in a Formula Drift qualifying run. Big miss on a personal level to not just stay fast and smooth and sacrifice angle, and another learning point. With a field this close it's the difference between moving onto Top32 or finishing 38th.

We reached 91mph on the entry last weekend, next year with a turbocharger on the V8 and a quick shifting "dogbox" we should see 100+ like some of the strongest cars did last weekend. Not that it really compares to racing at 200mph in rain and pitch black night at the Nurburgring but it's fun with the mix of slow and fast courses!

The later the hour, the more fans arrived. Drifting does look best at night.

This weekend we took the time to have a one to one sit-down session with Formula Drift judges Andy Yen, Brian Eggert and Ryan Lanteigne as they always encourage drivers to come talk to them plus at this time I feel the car is soon going to be at a point where it more or less entirely is going to be up to me.
Talking to the judges brings additional clarity at each track to the sensitivity of each separate criteria. This means more hard work on my side to get fully transitioned from road racing where it's all about speed, to get in tune with the different judging criteria and to become more competitive going sideways in this field of drivers. 

Photo by Wrecked The new V8 motor definitely gave the car a great leap forward. In 2014 it will be turbo charged to make over 700 rwhp. Until then we'll be running with nitrous to support a higher wheel speed.

This event had probably one of the longest autograph lines of the season. There was no chance to meet everyone within the scheduled hour, so we overstayed and made some new friends in the process.
We were happy to have Hankook's spokes model Katelynn help us promote this year's edition of Search For A Champion. SFAC is the sponsorship video contest put on by Champion Spark Plugs where I won a sponsorship helping me to get started on our quest to one day battle for a win in the Formula Drift Championship.
All in all, Texas was a very productive weekend for us and it was as always a great Formula Drift event and a great opportunity to bring our sponsor brands out to meet and greet new fans in a new part of the country.
We're stoked to be on this path. Until next time!! /Carl

The final round "Title Fight" of the 2013 Formula Drift PRO Championship will take place at Irwindale Speedway, CA on Oct 11-12. Tickets can be purchased at, and news, livestream and event info can also be found there.

Check out Carl's Youtube channel for videos where you can see the TX qualifying runs.

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