top drift round 4

Thanks for the photo: William Nourse


The road to Top Drift round 4 began with a slew of bad luck and ended with amazing results. For the first two rounds of Top Drift, I ran the MR-S with an unopened 2zz-ge pushing something like 155whp. Even before the season started, I knew having more power and torque would be necessary to produce results. I began researching the most efficient way to make the power I needed in order to keep up with the competition. Slowly but surely, parts were put together to give the MR-S a little bit more power.

Just before round 2, It was to be a secret until the event, that a turbo was installed. I had a t28 journal bearing turbo off of the Black Label Fab line from, along with their kit made for the mr2 spyder custom tailored to fit with the 2zz-ge swap. One week before round 2, I took the car to get tuned. Unfortunately, the engine blew so much smoke that the tuner did not want to continue with the tune. The car was then returned to its normally aspirated form and had a very tough time competing at the treacherous hills of Horse Thief Mile.

Garrett GT2860 on the left, BLF T28 on the right.

Shortly after, I began embarking on a journey to solve the issue of this smoking of the engine. offered to inspect the t28 for any defects and replaced seals all free of charge. I opted to return the turbo and went with the solid route of a Garrett GT2860, better known as a Disco Potato. Some of the hardware from the t28 were unusable for the Garrett ball bearing turbo and had to be sourced in a very tight time frame.

Friday, the day before round 4, the new Garrett turbo arrives at noon as myself and Gary, awesome friend and my pit hand for the weekend, frantically put all the turbo parts together. In just one short hour, we had the manifold, the turbo, and the exit flange all bench bolted together and slapped onto the engine. When all of the fittings and lines were secured, we attempted to crank the engine over but the battery had no juice. So we figure a quick jump start would get us going. It wasn’t going to be that easy this time around. The engine fired up but as soon as the jumpers were disconnected was when the engine would shut off. Of all things to happen in such a tight schedule, the alternator decides to fail. Fortunately the Autozone down the street had a replacement in stock so we picked it up and had it replaced in less than 40 minutes.

Yes, that’s Torreto’s RX7

We were now on our way to SR Motor Cars in Gardena, CA to have the engine fine tuned. We arrived at the shop at 4pm, hoping it would take no more than two hours and be able to be on our way to Willow Springs to test the car a little bit. Right from the beginning we were having some problems. First was the high cam problem. During the switchover, we saw a huge drop in power and torque. With few options available, I chose to have the high cam disabled as we continued to figure out the rest. We ran into a problem with the boost spiking upwards of 15-20 psi where the actuator spring is set at 8psi. We bypassed this by leaving the wastegate slightly open, which allowed the pressure to remain stable but resulted in longer spooling time and a peakier power band. At the end, we left with a drivable tune but its potential is not even half way met.  By the time we were finished and defeated, it was already well past midnight.

With that behind us, Gary and I spent most of Saturday morning and early afternoon to double-check everything as we knew it was to be a long day ahead of us.

Top Drift round 4 was held at the Willow Springs Stadium oval track. The layout was to mimic the Irwindale Speedway drift course which consisted of a banked sweeper into a switchback, onto another banking, and a hairpin in the infield. This was the first time I was to drive this track so the idea of driving right up against concrete walls was a bit nerve-racking. To ease this fear, I chose to follow on the first couple practice runs to see where the other drivers were initiating their drift. To be honest, the reality of the concrete barrier was not as scary as the idea of it is. I quickly grew out of it.  I was only able to get about 6 laps of practice before qualifying started.

Upon the practice runs, I noticed the car being more driver friendly than ever before. I used to have to clutch kick, saw the steering, hold the e-brake, all that stuff that was brutal to the drivetrain and such. I didn’t have to do much of that anymore with the added power and torque that the turbo delivered. It was a lot off my mind and body, and it allowed me to concentrate more on just the driving. 

Thanks for the photo: David Karey @

All the drivers were given three tries to put down a solid run. My first and second runs were practically identical. I went into the first bank taking somewhat of a middle line and completed the switchback nicely. Onto the second bank, I had a little bit of understeer towards the first half of the bank which I knew was unforgivable. I had one more run to give it everything.

I forgot if I psyched myself out or cooled myself down for the final run. All I know is I was not going to take it easy. It was my turn to run. I started with a couple of longer than usual donuts as I made my way to the starting line. I was directed to go…

1st gear…

2nd gear…

3rd gear…

A quick pull of the e-brake and back on the gas hard. Different from the first two runs, I pulled the e-brake with a little more force which caused the car to get even more angle. It was a great feeling going through the first banking with a little bit more opposite lock. I stayed on the gas while going through the switchback and got really close to the clipping point. On to the 2nd bank, I didn’t bobble nor understeer and stayed on it all the way onto the infield hairpin where I dropped it into 2nd gear and got about 2 feet from the clipping point and completed my run.

When I got out of my car, I heard over the announcements that I had scored 70.3 on my last run. It was an exciting moment for me. It was a respectable score but there were still at least 25 drivers who still have not gone yet. After all the dust had settled, the Top 16 announcements were made and I was to sit at 20th. I was not disappointed as this was my first time doing this well coming out with a totally new setup and that I know Top 16 would be within reach in the near future.

Overall through the weekend, I’d say that we did the best we could given such a tight schedule to work with. We got the car from difficult to drive and turned it into a tire smoking machine in under one day and destroyed tires the next day. It was a difficult feat and it would not be able to be done without all the help I was able to get. Huge thanks again to Gary, Myke, Brian, Cody, Justin, Eric at SR Motor Cars, Apache Rental Group, all the great people at City Tire Online, and Alex at Battle Version.