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Misadventures of a Drift Newbie, Part 8: Novice Clinic Day!

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here! We participated in our first Spirit.Jp Drift Series Novice Clinic, and we lived to tell about it! Since my last post we’ve just been ironing out the bugs and putting some miles on the car to get it as ready as we could for the big day.

Frank and Nate working on the new gauges

Last Saturday was our prep day. We did our nut & bolt check, we topped up all the fluids, set our tire pressures, and did a couple last minute projects on the car. We staged our spare wheels, tools, canopy, pit scooter and the rest of the stuff we’d need for the big event so we could quickly load up in the morning.

Loaded up and ready to head to the track!

Sunday morning I was up bright and early, ready to hit the track! I loaded up what I could in the drift car, then Nate arrived in the support truck to get the rest. Then we made our way down to Richmond Raceway! We got there around 7:45 and got our pit set up. We had our tech inspection, then our drivers meeting.

Team Lemon House pit area all set up!
I was equal parts excited and terrified.

The Novice Clinic is set up in 3 different stations: skid pad 1, skid pad 2, and then the actual track. The class participants are divided into 3 groups, and each one starts at a different station. I was in group 1, and we started on the track! I was really nervous, as I had no idea where to even start! Jack, one of the instructors, got in the car with me and talked me through it, he was really helpful! He explained how to clutch kick, along with a lot of other valuable information.

Oh lord, here goes nothin!

Jack and I did a few laps, and each time I felt like I was starting to get more of a feel for it. After our track session we moved on to the skid pad area, where we’d work on our throttle modulation and other techniques. One of the other instructors let me know that my differential isn’t as limited slip as we’d thought, and that’s probably why I was having a hard time getting Chizuru to do what I wanted her to do. It’s reassuring to see that the car was the issue and not necessarily me! Welding up that diff is on our to-do list. Despite the one-wheel peel I was having a blast, and really, that’s what it’s all about! I can only imagine how much more fun it will be once we get the car up to snuff!

Cooling down in our pit area.

After lunch break I went on a ridealong with Kailynn, another of our group instructors, in her 240sx. Holy crap, what a thrill!! She drives like an absolute beast, it was probably one of the most terrifying/ exciting experiences of my life! The speedometer didn’t work but it felt like we were going 100 mph into the first curve, then we slid through the following turns. It was both brutal and graceful at the same time, and intoxicatingly fun! She explained how to just let go of the steering wheel and it’ll correct itself. I picked up a lot from watching her hands and feet as she drove.

As the day was coming to a close they had an open-lapping session, so I headed out for a few more laps. I tried to apply the things I’d picked up from Jack, Kailynn, and the the other people I’d talked to throughout the day. I felt like things were starting to come together, but at that point my body was just too exhausted to continue. I headed back in so we could break down the pit and head home.

Back at home in one piece!

All in all it was an incredibly rewarding experience! I’d highly recommend the Spirit.Jp Novice Clinic to anyone who wants to learn to drift. Everyone I’ve met has been so kind and generous in sharing their knowledge, it’s such a wonderful community. I’m so happy to be a part of it! I’m eager to get to the next event and keep learning more techniques and developing my own style. I’ve heard conflicting advice from different people, so I think it all boils down to experimenting and finding out what works best for me.

The car performed flawlessly, even in the scorching heat! A trial by fire in the nearly literal sense. I owe it all to my awesome Lemon House teammates Nate, Frank and Travis. I couldn’t do this without you guys! Many Thanks to Joe and the Spirit.Jp instructors for creating such an amazing community here in Richmond, I’m honored to be a part of it.

Can’t wait til the next event!

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