Response by IAN, ASD Inc.
Interesting points being brought up here for sure.
Here’s my take on it, be it right or wrong. Because our team (and many others) are paid to compete, its our obligation to the people that pay us to figure out how to be as competitive as possible. That’s true in any professional motorsport, including FD.
I don’t make the rules, but its my job to ensure I’m at no disadvantage because of them. Drifting is still a speed contest, even though its drifting, because the judges are looking for close tandem. So, if I engineer a car fast enough to create a gap in a lead run, and my driver can still follow closely with same angle and line, current rules and judging say my driver should have the advantage. Not my rules, but the rules I’m bound to compete by.
Hence the invasion of the V8’s… reliable big horsepower numbers for fast drift cars.
The rules in any motorsport are created to try and bring parity between different cars and teams. Hence the pace cone rule, because as I understand it judging doesn’t start until the cars initiate into the first turn.
And if the rules are in place to create parity and fairness, those same rules should be applied equally to all drivers and cars. It shouldn’t matter if a driver has 800hp or 250hp, or any other factor. Rules should be (and have been rather well I think) applied equally to all drivers.
The goal of the pace cone is to attempt to get both cars initiating at the same time into the first turn, because thats where the judging begins.
If a pace cone is in effect, I believe its fair for anyone to use it (should both drivers agree). A horsepower limit or other factors can’t be placed on if the pace cone is allowed – our sport is subjective enough without adding that.
Its true that at some tracks we ignore the straight line speed capability of some of our cars (within reason) and make that compromise to improve the chassis balance while in drift. We only do that when a pace cone is in effect. But its not like when we do that our cars are slow in a straight line. They just may not be the fastest car in a straight line anymore.
In qualifying at Seattle for example, our data showed Tyler entering the bank at 62mph and Kearney at 66mph. Bonnie was down there all weekend taking bank entry speeds from the infield. Thats why Tyler asked for the pace cone.
But Tyler’s 62mph bank entry placed him exactly in the middle of the qualifying field for bank entry speed, so he wasn’t slow. Kearney was just 4mph faster in a straight line, Tyler was faster in drift.
I personally think any driver or team who enters turn one after a drag race start with 3+ car lengths on the chase driver is setting himself up to look stupid. Judging starts at initiation of the first turn, and if the chase car closes that gap during the run while maintaining angle and line, the chase car will have an advantage from that run.
How fast your car can be down the straight before turn one is not the point of drifting. Drifting is about how fast and how much angle can be held after the first turn initiation, when running the correct line.
I don’t intentionally slow our cars down in a straight line. But if the result of a better chassis in drift brings that compromise at times, I shouldn’t have to care with current FD rules. The drag race isn’t judged, because as I understand it, judging begins when the cars initiate into the first corner. And our cars are still not SLOW in a straight line – even if a really fast straight line car makes them look like they are.
I think most of (but not all) the complaints about FD judging would not be an issue if more people fully understood the judging criteria for that particular event. Most complaints I see about this or that run being judged unfairly are based on someone not fully understanding what the judges are looking for. Most people are not in the drivers meetings where those topics are often very well discussed. Other complaints, like the gaps between cars before initiation and how that is looked at by judges are often not fully understood either – even by some drivers and teams.
FD judges are human, and can make mistakes. But they make a lot less than some people seem to make out, have a very difficult job, and all in all I think are doing very well.
I don’t expect everyone to get this, understand it, or agree with me. Just my opinions guys