Drifting & A Giant Chinese Robot Hand

2017-03-14

The first round of World Drift Series China was a big success for Team Need for Speed. Vaughn Gittin Jr. finished first and Matt Powers finished second. The event was held in the industrial and smoggy city of Tianjin. The second and final round of the series was held in the beautiful city of Hang Zhou.

Five members of the media came along for the Asian adventure. Three of which, including me, were Speedhunters.

Midway through our fourteen-hour flight to China, I decided to check on the boys of team USA and see how they are passing the time. Ross Petty and Matt Powers, seemed to have passed out for most of the bumpy ride.

Matt's mechanic and crew chief, Costa Gialamas, of Gialamas Technical Innovations, had the best sleeping style by far.

Speedhunters' very own Linhbergh and Will Roegge, passed the time with the help of computers.

Seeing how it was Will's first time to China, so we decided to break him in right.

We headed out to some local hot spots to unwind for a bit before the drifting chaos began.

Matt and Jacob started friendly rivalries with the locals.

The next morning, the Speedhunters were ready to head roll.

This is the Yellow Dragon sports stadium.

It is part of the Yellow Dragon group of Olympic training facilities.

The track was paved in one day so there were still some holes and rough spots.

There was always a vat of molten tar ready to go for when the track gets torn up.

This whole "drifting in an Olympic sized stadium" thing was new to Will and Linhbergh so it took them a while to soak it all in.

Just a few moments, later Team USA's cars showed up.

The boys tried to unload the cars but they got Vaughn Gittin Jr's Ford Mustang stuck.

The trailer was a traditional car transport, so it was easy to get lowered cars stuck while unloading.

Costa was along for the ride as the locals helped push the car off.

It was a team effort and Matt was not afraid to do the heavy lifting.

Team plaid was on hand to capture all the exiting moments.

I did not know this, but apparently, Linhbergh disclosed that he was afraid of heights. Team plaid never leave a man behind.

This was Linhbergh's first time to China as well.

It did not take long for him to blend in with the locals.

Watching the locals unload the cars was like watching a well oiled machine. This guy yelled…

…and these guys pulled.

Kyle Mohan was very happy to see his car still in one piece. His car was strapped on the top row, so it could have fallen off if it was not tied correctly.

Frank, from Garage Boso, bought a fold-able bicycle from the last round and locked it to Kyle Mohan's FC RX-7 roll cage. He forgot to bring the key, so the locals used the "jaws of life" to cut the $25 bicycle free.

Vaughn and the ASD crew flew in a day later than the rest of the drivers. Matt played with all the buttons and switches in JR's Mustang…

…while Will read magazines in Matt's LS powered S14.

The last car was unloaded as the guys pushed it into the pits. It took a while, since Ross crashed his car last time giving the rear massive toe out.

With the cars unloaded, it was time for the Speedhunters to explore this massive stadium.

Like the real thing, Linhbergh Gittin Jr. was ready to rock at a moments notice.

We were still taking in the sheer size of the stadium. I can only imagine how loud the stadium would be when the stands are filled out.

We noticed there was scaffolding that went around the entire rim of the roof. We headed out on a mission to explore the roof.

We stumbled upon this very sketchy bamboo ladder.

One by one we climbed up as we held it down for one another.

Skylar is seen here enjoying the view quite a bit.

Seeing how Linhbergh was afraid of heights, he tried to turn back. I stood my ground and pushed him forward.

We all developed a good amount of sweat getting to the edge of the scaffolding.

The view was incredible.

We stayed for a bit to watch some of the Chinese teams practice.

As I was fumbling around with my camera, I dropped my media badge. It took about 30 minutes for me to find it.

We decided to continue our adventure. Linhbergh gladly took the lead.

The door we originally came through was locked by the time we finished our adventures in the rafters. We needed to find another way down from the stands.

Every single gate was locked.

We found trap doors but they lead to dead ends.

Luckily, we found this ladder. Which turned out to be two wooden ladders tied together with metal ties and old t-shirts.

Once again, we helped each other one by one as we climbed down.

We finally found a trap door that lead us to the outside of the stadium.

Our journey was not over exploring the stadium for different photo vantage points. We climbed up 23 flights of stairs to the top of one of the supporting towers.

This was a great view and we could see the design of the simple track very clearly.

We headed for the roof of the support tower. That was one of the support beams that held the roof of the stadium up. There was no where else to go but that open door…

…which lead outside to a giant robot hand that shot out fire.

I can only guess that the giant metal hand was used for some kind of opening ceremony of some sort.

The room next to it had the fuel and controls.

There was also a ladder…

…which lead us to the roof.

The buildings around us were part of the Yellow Dragon Olympic training center.

A clear view of the giant robot hand.

Sometimes, I question the sanity of my fellow Speedhunters.

I had no idea the city of Hang Zhou was so huge.

The building with the clock tower was our hotel. We decided to head back down and check out the happenings in the pits.

We found all of team USA working hard on their cars.

Everyone did not have a chance to work on their cars at the end of the last event so there was much to do.

Matt was stoked on getting a new e-brake system. At the last event, Matt yanked the e-brake so hard during competition that he bent the stock handle.

The local mechanics have never changed low profile performance tires before but after some of the guys showed them how to do it they got faster and faster.

The last round Vaughn's Mustang started to overheat towards the end of the competition.

So the ASD guys did some special modifications to keep it cool.

It took much longer to prep the cars since everyone was limited to the tools they brought in their suit cases.

One of the obstacles Team USA has to overcome was the lower quality of fuel they had in China.

All the cars were re-tuned to the local fuel in fear of the motors blowing. While the mechanics banged away at the cars, the drivers and media decided to check out the city and the local cuisine.

This was Vaughn's first time trying taro pie.

Ross injured his foot while skateboarding so he had to ride his bike everywhere.

Some of the locals have never seen foreigners before. Some would ask for photos and others even asked for some ice cream.

I decided to try a smoked salmon pizza with a wasabi sauce. Yum.

Since Vaughn left his clear helmet visor at home, he needed some clear glasses to keep wind out of his eyes because the main competition will be held at night. I thought this pair suited him very well.

Kyle found a suitable tow vehicle for his China car.

Some of us broke off from the main group to checkout some caves at a nearby bamboo forest.

Will climbed on bamboo.

The others went back to the stadium.

Leave it to team USA to invent some new Olympic sports.

I think Will would be a good contender for the gold medal in the "frog leap."

The taro pie must have been good because Vaughn was ready to rock.

Once the cars were prepped and ready for qualifying, we had a team meeting. Everyone had a long day and it was time for dinner.

Luckily we found a spot open right next to the stadium. After our family style dinner, it was time for bed…

…but not before we visited the roof of our hotel….

Stay tuned for part 2

-Larry

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