Right now I’m sitting in the media tower at Road Atlanta while practice continues just over the hill on the course. That’s right, Allen Iverson, we’re talkin’ about practice! Not the game, but practice. With that being said, even though it was practice, the drivers were pushing it to the limit and beyond. Many cars ended up in the kitty litter on the initiation corner and some went into the wall.
Above, Taka Aono shows us how to navigate the course cleanly and aggressively.
However, others had a different story to tell. During the first practice session, Long Beach champ Justin Pawlak got carried away with his recent victory and tried to win at practice. Truth be told, I didn’t witness the wreck as it occurred because I was moving to a new photo location; but, judging from what I heard, it sounds like JTP went to initiate into the first corner and his rear wheels caught the rumble strip or the grass and immediately introduced him to the wall. The damage looks severe in this photo but the Falken team was hard at work in the paddock putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. We hope to see him back out as soon as possible! In addition to JTP, Eric O’ Sullivan in the Gardella Racing Pontiac Solstice also gave the wall a solid love tap coming out of the final corner back up the hill. However, O’ Sullivan was able to drive off on his own without the aid of a flatbed.
Another car that had to take it to the house early was Samuel Hubinette’s Dodge Challenger. A mysterious mechanical issue caused Sam to coast to a stop after launching down the straight to initiate. There’s no word on what the problem was but a sad-faced Sam driving back to the paddock says it’s definitely not routine. Mechanical failures kept him from competing at Long Beach and hopefully fate does not hold the same for him this weekend.
On a more positive note, Michael Essa was looking strong in his Bavarian rocket (BMW Z4) powered by a turbocharged S54 out of a BMW E46 M3. Originally, I was slightly disappointed when I heard that he was no longer running his V10 M3 from last year. I mean, who doesn’t love that engine note? However, after seeing this car run in person, the disappointment quickly faded. As one of the few cars without a V8 in the series, it still manages to be unique in a slowly unifying field – and it still puts down just as much smoke! (Disclaimer: this photo is at the top of the horseshoe, right before he upshifts for the downhill smokescreen).
Speaking of unique, Pat Cyr‘s F20C powered, AE86 Toyota Corolla definitely fits the bill with what some might call a sacrilegious motor swap. However the same applies to the noise this car makes: bouncing off the limiter out of the horseshoe will make anyone’s ears dance. I’ve gotta hand it to Pat for never having driven this course and having a relatively underpowered car – although, 360 HP at 20 psi is still no slouch by any means! He did very well his first day out. Granted, he paid a visit to the magic sand (if you’ve played Forza, you know exactly what I mean), but overall he figured out the difficult Road Atlanta course and has the potential to claim a spot if he keeps it up. Good luck Pat!
Another promising up-and-comer is Ryan Kado, the 19 year old rookie out of Sacramento, California. Ryan was looking extremely smooth on track and his VK56 powered Nissan 350Z was laying down plenty of smoke. I’ll be interested to see how the young gun performs when it comes time for qualifying. With an eventful practice day, who knows what will be in store for the rest of the weekend?
Keep your eyes glued to MotorMavens for more coverage and follow us on Twitter for live updates @MOTORMAVENS. That’s it for me right now. I’m starving! Cracker Barrel anyone?
:: Jonathan McWhorter
Awesome stuff Jon!!
Have you seen Walker out there at all?
Yes he was out there today and he killed it! You’ll see some photos of him later on this weekend!
Oh NOOOOO!!! JTP crashed?! Well, at least it wasn’t his FC3S that crashed.
I’d love to see Pat Cyr battling Taka Aono!!! That would be BAD ASS! Pat Cyr is a top name in the DMCC championship, and I hope he does well in Atlanta!
Ryan Kado… WOW! Entering the season in ATL?! All the way from Cali? NICE! Hope to see more of this guy!
Wow, Samuel is with Discount Tire now? Is he teammates with Dai???
so the kado kid made the pages. super pumped and cant wait to hear jrod anounce his name. the vets better look out cuz im sure he is more than willing to toss some of that british racing green on to there cars……
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Wooohooo! Good job on the coverage JMac! Can’t wait for tomorrow when we turn up the heat!
NIIIIIIICE!!! Great job posting the story so fast, JMac!!!
@Jover: Does Drift Posse or Pat have a twitter account? LMK!
@RyanKado: GOOD LUCK MAN!!! I met Ryan briefly in San Francisco last time I was there. Or no… maybe it was at SEMA? I don’t know, I have such a horrible memory. I know I met Ryan with his dad. If I’m not mistaken… was that 350Z purchased from Calvin Wan? I thought that maybe that was Calvin’s old project Z33… but I don’t remember if Ryan bought one of Calvin’s S14s or the 350Z…
Awesome Jmizzle! More, more!
I hope Cyr does well in his Rolla2000 and Walker the SR-ranger in his S13. Privateers!!!
Hey Antonio, Pat’s twitter is @patcyr86
I know what really happened to JTP! For the full story, “like” Tandem of Die on Facebook!
7 photos is considered coverage?
hahahaha Just kidding. I’ll never tell!
I lol’d at the forza reference.
Excited to see more coverage from ATL.
It’s not coverage, its “HellaCoverage” 😉
antonie your right it is calvins old project but we ended up re doin everything and with a little suspension wizardry from poweredbymax.net we were able to get one hell of a ride man. be sure to keep your eyes on him and his insane entrys. http://youtu.be/6bHhXuaXlPk is just a little clip of testing
JMac, you are the man! Great work bro!
@Hollywood: Oh NOOOOOO!!! I heard Ryan Kado’s 350Z and Charles Ng’s FC3S just crashed pretty badly???