TW – If possible I want to start this by thanking my partners because without them I couldn’t keep this going. Thanks to Mazda, Comp Turbo, Nitrous Express, Exedy USA, and Mazdatrix. I can’t say thank you enough for the support! Go buy their products/services! Well, I started road racing in 2009 in the Skip Barber series. I convinced my parents to let me do a class there when I was 16 to learn how to “drive safely” and it was awesome. A couple years later I got the chance to do one of their race weekends with the expectation that I would get smoked and go home having a cool experience to remember. I got the chance to race at Laguna Seca for my first race and was stunned when I qualified on pole and went on to lead every lap to take the win. It was a double race weekend so I also got another race and once again qualified on pole and led up until being punted on the last lap and that really did it for me. I was hooked and wanted nothing more than to win races. I was able to piece together a full season that year and took rookie of the year. At that point I wanted more and chose to leave college and use some of the funds to compete in the following season which offered a shot at a Mazda factory seat to the winner. That season was a dream. I set track records at most of the tracks we visited and won lots of races and after a really close battle took the championship. I was then invited to the Mazda shootout to go against a number of other championship winners. I didn’t get the seat and was sent looking for other rides. I was invited to test a number of cars and took all the opportunities I was offered. I was even able to impress one of the teams enough to offer me a seat at the Rolex 24hrs of Daytona. Getting to drive a real Porsche GT3 Cup car in one of the most famous races in the world was beyond belief. I had never driven Daytona, never driven a cup car, oh and there are lots of buttons and knobs so needless to say it was a steep learning curve but I was able to be on pace by the time the race started. It was an experience I may never get again and was certainly life changing. After qualifying 5th our car was unfortunately hit by a number of Mazdas and ended up finishing 19.
I spent the following months seeking support to run the rest of the season. If you are familiar with road racing you might have an idea of the level of budget that requires, lets just say it would pay for my drifting for the next 10-15 years…
I came to the point where it was clear I was going to be spending my own money to go racing. I took that into consideration and decided what I wanted to do more than anything was drift. I bought a car and started learning. The very first event we did was VegasDrift. Our water pump failed mid run and that was the end of the motor. As it turns out motors don’t like 8500rpm with no coolant. For the rest of the season we suffered everything from transmission failures to ecu and wiring problems.
TW – Our season was interesting at best. I don’t handle failure very well. We were only able to run the last 3 events of the VegasDrift Pro-Am season and well we blew a motor in the first. During the second one our fuel pumps died and we had to stop running for fear of detonating another motor. The final event of the season was FD Vegas and that was our best showing. We were running an ecu that couldn’t compensate for changes in barometric pressure and suffered because we were too cheap to upgrade it. Turns out as cool as the fireballs were, having the motor bog completely right after initiation wasn’t working. I think we advanced one battle and in the second suffered from a combination of driver error and bogging.
Vd – What mods have you done on your RX7?
TW – Well, it was an old FD (JT Wharerau’s) so it had cage suspension etc. Some of the stuff we have done includes the brand new motor built by Kyle Mohan over at Mazdatrix. It is a 13b full bridgeport that has been doweled. It is boosted by a single Comp Turbo turbocharger as well as having water/meth and some Nitrous Express nitrous. We also dumped our Microtech ecu (nicknamed the large calculator for it’s ability to do nothing right) for a Haltech. Oh and lots of stickers. If you weren’t aware stickers add horsepower.
Vd – Tell us about the drift scene in San Diego.
TW – I honestly wouldn’t know if there was one. I have a pretty demanding day job and the time I get to spend away from that I usually spend working on the FD or looking at girls on Facebook. I guess we used to have events at Qualcomm stadium but that got stopped after someone wrecked.
Vd – What advice would you give to someone that wants to start drifting?
TW – I don’t think I’m qualified to give advice but the best thing I have been told is don’t be afraid to ask questions. I have found that especially in the drifting community everyone is willing to help whether it’s with driving advice or fixing your broken car. Also the only way your going to make a small fortune in racing is to start with a big one.
Vd – Well, thanks for the interview Tyler and good luck this season!
Matthew Kingery – KiNgErY
Justin Yadao – OMGDRIFT