After many long, hard weeks at work. It was finally time to head to the track! I had no time to mess with the car in between events, I was just hoping to load up and head out. It was a small event so I was not worried about things like bumper and headlights, I was just hoping to get some good practice in. I got to the track, unloaded everything, and set up our area. I was switching my rear wheels to ones that actually had some tread, when one of the lugs decided to start rolling in the hub. I spent the majority of the morning fucking around with that, and was becoming very frustrated. My friend Adam had a goliath electric impact gun, which finally extracted the lug nut. So out on track I went. I only made a few passes before it happened… I was coming in hot, yanked the handbrake, and the car did not respond. I am still not sure why, it all happened so fast. I had came in fast and wide, without much room for error. I tried to stop the car using the foot brake but there was not enough space. I went hurdling in to the wall in third gear. So many thoughts were rushing through my head. It all felt like a bad dream. I could not believe what had just happened. This could quite easily have been one of the worst moments of my life. Physically, I was fine. Mentally, I was crushed. As I sat there looking at my car, I couldn’t help but think of all the great times I have had with the car. It was such a shame to see the car that way, it still bothers me to this day. However, there was one thing I knew for sure… I couldn’t let this get me down! I did not come this far to go out this way. I have way too much invested in this to stop now.
As soon as I arrived home I knew I had to get to work. I wanted to prove to myself that I could beat this. This was by far the most serious accident I have had on track, and I knew it was really going to test me. I had to push all my emotions to the side, and get the fuck to work! I began furiously tearing apart what was left of the car. The next day the motor was out, sitting on a pallet. I assessed the damage, and began to make a list of what would need to be replaced. This list was staggering, to say the least.
Thankfully, I had a hatch sitting around. I had found the car on Craigslist for cheap, and jumped on the opportunity. I had plans to use it for something to cruise around in, but never had the chance to get the pissy little single-cam up to par. So it sat and sat, until finally one day it was pulled in to my garage. I worked on it every single day. I would set small goals to get done each day, then start thinking of what I could do the next day. I did my best to keep the parts flowing in, so I could stay working. I worked on the car as much as I possibly could, I wanted to get the new car running and out on track ASAP! I would work every weekday from about 5 p.m. until around 10 or 11 p.m., only taking a break to eat. Weekends I would usually get started by noon and work until around 4 or 5 a.m. Some nights I could not find any help, and would have to work alone in to the wee hours of the night. I am pretty sure I was going crazy, but I couldn’t stop. I had one thing on my mind, building my new car. It became hard to concentrate on real life. I was missing a lot of sleep, and it was dragging me down. But I kept pressing on, giving it 100% of what I had.
For the first few weeks, I was really feeling overburdened. I was still bothered by the loss of my old car, and progression seemed very slow on the new car. Finally, after about three weeks, the new car began to take shape. After all the hard work, I was finally beginning to feel a connection with the new car. Progression was picking up and I was becoming very excited. At the rate things were going, it was looking like I may be able to make the next drift event that was on my schedule! Despite my serious lack of sleep, the excitement provided me enough energy to continue pushing on in to the fourth week. Which is, of course, when I started to become very sick. I knew that if I could keep the pace at which I was working, that I could be at the next event like I never missed a beat. However, it was steadily becoming more and more difficult to continue on.
But, I kept visions of the next event in my head and worked towards it with everything I had! I found myself working on the car until around 9:30 p.m. the night before the event. Which is extremely out-of-character for me… unfortunately, I had no other options. At around 9:30 p.m. the night before the event, I decided that the car was ready to be taken to the track and tested. There was still some interior/exterior work to be done, but the car felt sound mechanically. We loaded up and quickly went to ‘sleep’ before the big day. I could hardly shut my eyes though, as I went through everything I had done in my head.
We woke up bright and early the next morning, and begun the trek out to the track. It was a very tense ride up, all I could think about was the car. Did I rush through it too quickly? Is it ready for the track? Did I tighten that bolt enough? Finally, after a long three hours, we arrived at Shenandoah Speedway. It was a weird feeling for me. A combination of ‘nervous-as-a-motherfucker’ and ‘so-happy-that-I-want-to-scream’. Here I was, back at the same place that I crashed, exactly one month and four days later. With a brand-new car ready to fuck shit up! I cannot explain to you how great it felt to beat the crash like that. As soon as I passed through the gates a giant shit-eating grin took over my face, and I am not sure that it ever left until the weekend was over.
We unloaded the car off the trailer and I was quickly greeted by a few ‘WTF?!’ faces. I was so busy working on the car, that I hardly had any time to post what was going on and not a lot of people thought I would be driving the next event. I teched the car in, and started getting ready for the track. The first few passes back out there were strange… I felt a whole new respect for the track. I spent a few laps just driving the course. Feeling out not only the car, but myself as well. I could already tell it was going to be weird throwing the new car back at the same wall that claimed the old one. After a few laps and some small adjustments, the car was feeling solid and I was ready to get it sideways. I started on the small, open turns in the infield. Just trying to get back in the groove. Let the steering wheel spin a bit, stab the throttle a few times… I was feeling pretty good. I decided the best place to try and get back up to speed, would be the second-to-third gear turn coming out of the infield on to the bank. I came through the infield, hit the limiter in second and latched third as I started to get close to the clipping point. The car jumped around the point just as I had planned, and the smoke started rolling. It felt so good to be back out there again! The new car was felt solid. It ran great all day despite wanting to heat up after too many passes, which was expected in the hot summer weather. Once I was feeling settled in, I decided to run the solo comp for the hell of it and ended up taking home first place! The ride home was much more relaxed, the new car had done it’s duty. It took a full day of hard drifting, and I even brought home a trophy with it!
Now I need to go back through all of my work to check everything for the umpteenth time, and start on getting this thing painted! I still feel strange about the loss of the old car, but I am excited to see what the new car could bring.
I would also like to take a second to thank my father (again). Throughout this entire process, he was there every chance he could get. He is willing to push himself, as hard as I am willing to push myself. Once we got in to weeks 3 and 4, we both started to become really worn out. You could see it in our faces. We began to constantly bicker about stupid shit, and it would even get pretty serious sometimes. But we managed to stick it out, and build yet another track-proven machine. I can’t thank you enough for all your help; whether it is laying under the car with me, or just giving me your straight-up honest opinion (even when you know I don’t want to hear it). It’s awesome to think about how we are still kicking after all these years, here’s to many more!
I would also like to thank Thomas. Probably one of the coolest dudes that I have met through this ‘junky-old-Nissan’ obsession. I appreciate all the tools you loaned me, and all those late nights you spent in the shop helping me!
“The only way to find your limit, is to push your limit.”