Chelsea DeNofa Gets His First XDC 2010 Podium Finish!
One of the most talented and most popular BMW drifters in the USA, Chelsea DeNofa loves his turbo M3. Having celebrated great success in series such as Formula Drift PRO-AM, NOPI Drift, and D1 Grand Prix USA over the past several seasons, Chelsea now drives under the NST flag and has his sights on the 2010 Xtreme Drift Circuit. We asked him to blog about his experience at the 2010 XDC Round Three at West Virginia’s Summit Point Raceway. Enjoy…
It was 9am Wednesday morning and I was on the way back from dropping my girlfriend off at the airport. The team and I decided we were going to make the trek out to Summit Point for XDC Round 3. As most of you know, we were leaving from super hot and humid Houston, TX.
I had dropped the M3 off at Will Parsons’ house the night before. Now we just needed to get the Corolla there as well. Will then “legally” drove his vinyl-ed up eight six back to the house. After three hours of sweating buckets in 100 degree temps, the trailer was ready to go.
Unfortunately Aaron Losey’s chassis was still not fixed on his S13 so we would drive to Dallas to pick up Stewart Leask, another one of Texas’ high caliber drivers.
Officially Summit Point bound! Smokey and the Bandit Style, we had Stew and Aubre ahead in the IS250 giving us the low down on the weigh stations and DOT. Sneaking around DOT checks by going through neighborhoods and one lane mountain roads allowed us to smoothly continue along a 1500 mile trip. Trailer and truck tires, “shouldn’t have eaten that breaks”, rain delays, and idiots that do not know how to drive continued to bash us. But we arrived at the track at 3am Friday. Thanks to Mike Collins and Meathead Racing we had a full 3000 sq/ft shop and RV waiting for us to crash out in.
7:45am Friday, iPhone alarm going off, we get ourselves ready for a long day full of gnarlyness. We took our 1/8 of a mile ride to the main road course to find out we had a drivers meeting and had to be on track within 40 minutes … the cars were still loaded. Mike and Aubre quickly unloaded tires and supplies while Stew, Will, and I went to the drivers meeting. After the usual do’s and don’ts, we unloaded our cars, topped off fluids, and I ran out onto the track. Since I’d only road raced on this track before, I was unsure of the proper drift line. I made a few fast passes and started stepping up my entry and angle throughout the track. Our quick 40min session was over, so I headed back to the NST pits to evaluate my car and runs.
Ballin’ out of control, by the end of the second practice session I pretty much had the track dialed in and was just fine tuning a couple spots others were struggling with, to get the upper hand.
My sticky Nexen tires and BC Racing dampers allowed me to have one of the fastest entries at 82mph, entering at the kink and sliding all the way into the first judged corner. Stew and I were the only drivers entering at the kink. The car was exceptional, staying cool with my new Secret Services Auto cooling system and upgraded SMAX intercooler. With the help of my spotter, Rapper Dan, by the end of the session I was on all the clipping points and turning my runs up to eleven!
Qualifying came quickly and I sat on the bleachers to watch the first two groups. This would be my only chance to take mental notes on the drivers as I awaited my turn to drive. My first two qualifying runs were washes due to dirt all over the first part of the track, but the judges and officials swept the first turn and allowed myself and another driver an additional qualifying run. On my last run I had to assure a top 16 qualifying spot, so I needed a safe, simple, effective run which meant slowing the entry and using caution as I navigated around the five turn track.
Concluding my day was the final driver’s meeting where I found out that this run would be good for 5th place in the top 16 ladder. My first battle would be against E-Shift driver; Charley Tyson in the Toyota Supra powered S14.
As Friday came to an end we put the car on the lift at Meathead Racing’s shop, conveniently located 500 feet from the track and quickly went over the car. Mike, Will, and I went into town for pizza, and then it was back to the RV for a much needed night’s sleep.
Once again the phone alarm is ringing, this time at 8:45am Saturday… snooze button for ten minutes. Tandem practice started at 11:50am, which left enough time to clean off both myself and the car, and head to the NST pits.
As I pulled up to pre-staging my car had a slight misfire. After making one lap and heading back to the pits we discovered an electrical issue. My battery was not being charged which meant I would be out of tandem practice! Being a road race event as well, this meant there were tons of E36s throughout the paddock. We located an alternator from a friendly GTSclass driver and with the help of Will and Rossini Racing we installed the new alternator in minutes. Uh oh, that wasn’t the problem! Further diagnostics led to a failing battery cut-off switch. We replaced the unit and were ready to go for top 16.
Soon enough it was 6pm and time for the big show. I lined up next to Charley and gave the thumbs up; the official gave us the go. I quickly accelerated into 4th gear and with a kick of the clutch I was barreling into turn one on point, but coming out of turn one I got on the power too quickly and spun the car. To my surprise, Charley had also made a large correction on entry, leading to a zero-zero score for both of us. It was my turn to follow; this is where I bring my A game. As we were door to door to the pace cone I left some room between our cars due to our different styles of entry. Coming out of the first turn, I was up on his door and following very smoothly. Mimicking his line and putting the pressure on throughout the track pushed him to make a few mistakes, and I knew I had the advantage. The judges agreed.
Next up was Stewart Leask. Stew and I had been helping each other all weekend so I knew this was going to be a good battle. We had very similar lines and speed, which meant we knew one another’s game plan. As we pulled up to grid the situation got heavy. Stew was on his lead lap and overcooked the entry. Contemplating my next move, I quickly realized he had gone off track allowing me to legally pass and continue my run. I was sure I had the advantage and lined up for my lead run. As we went into the kink, I prepared to do my qualifying line. I knew that Stew was quick through turns 3 and 4, so I ran the low angle high speed line and pulled away from him. I was granted the win.
Now I was paired up with Doug Van Dan Brink and his near 700 horsepower Mustang. He was the number one qualifier and had a well built car, so I knew I was up for a challenge. Again, I was off towards the pace cone, he led. His entry was much different than mine, an E-brake 200 ft after the kink, so I left some room between us and in a somewhat cocky way initiated before the kink following Doug sideways all the way to the first turn. Unfortunately, his entry was a bit different than I had watched during practice and he pulled a two car length lead on me after the first turn. I quickly went into a slip angle drift to pick up the pace and play the game of catch up. After the next two turns I had only made up one car length before the end of the course. Then it was my turn to lead. By this time the track was starting to get a bit greasy and my tires were starting to get passed there optimal grip level. But, not having any more tires left forced me to drop the tire pressure a bit more and go for it! The flagger sent us again; I shredded through first, second, third, and fourth into the kink and ran a great lap. But it was not enough to beat Doug. He moved onto the 1st 2nd battle and I moved on to the 3rd and 4th battle.
Steve Angerman and I were on the grid for our 3rd and 4th place battle. His LS7 powered Pontiac Solstice is an absolute Monster! This was his first time driving the car, and the first time I had ever driven with him in tandem. First I followed, not giving him any room and letting him know I was there knocking on his door. He made a small mistake in the first turn and wobbled the car, this gave me the opportunity to sneak up close to the Solstice and finish the run on his bumper. During my lead lap, I entered early and took the inside racing line. He was unable to follow my inside line and went wide, allowing me to pull a gap. Angerman kept up the speed and stayed just a quick second away, but it was not enough. The judges deemed me the winner!
I was excited for third place as we pulled onto the front straight for our award ceremony. Spraying champagne, collecting our novelty checks, and posing for pictures was the name of the game here!
What a great event overall. Hyperfest is insane. There had to be over 10,000 people there, literally! It took me 15 minutes to get to the grid each time, fighting through a gnarly crowd of fans asking questions and taking pictures. I still have no idea where these people came from; there was a higher population at the track than in the town we were in.
We loaded the trailer that night during some “heat rain” as Mr. Wilkerson called it. Then filled our stomachs with some RAD smoked brisket sandwiches cooked by the Meathead Racing Team. The weekend was over and we felt it! I was extremely tired and crashed out in the RV by 2am.
Sunday at 9am we woke up feeling great! Quoc Ly had sadly blown his motor early in the event and did not have a way to get it shipped back to CA. So we offered to load it up and take it back to TX so we could ship it home to him. After loading his SR-20 we hitched up the trailer then walked over to the Shenandoah road course to grab some more catered Meathead Racing grub. They were running the 24 hours of lemons race! We watched them grid up and then run the 1st lap.
Finally it was time to head home. Our drive was pleasantly uneventful. Nearly every weigh station was closed; we made it to Dallas in 22 hours! Then continued down to Houston, unloaded the cars and then I was happily homeward bound. I received a text from Aaron Keller of XDC on the way home… I was the #1 points leader in the XDC Championship!
You better believe I will be in Jersey putting the hammer DOWN!
I would like to thank Nexen Tires for providing the rubber to contain my manimal of a car. S-MAX Intercoolers for keeping the power up on those 100 degree days. Secret Services Auto for helping build a reliable yet shnazzy looking driveline, that passes tech to boot! Mike from NST for driving around the country with us and giving us the tools needed to win. BC Racing for building an absolutely amazing coilover setup, grip grip grip! Bret Bazen for building a great motor in a DAY, running game on my factory ECU tunes, and being there for all of my questions! Sideways Vinyl for high quality design and cat like delivery speeds. Let’s not forget Meathead Racing for giving us an awesome shop to work at trackside, and Rossini Racing for mobile dyno use and mechanical help! Thanks guys!
June 23, 2010
TOP 16 HD VIDEO COVERAGE HERE … http://wp.me/pPD1d-bT
NST – NonStopTuning
Posted on June 24, 2010, in Motorsports, NonStopTuning, NonStopTuning Media and tagged Charlie Tyson S14, Chelsea DeNofa BMW E36, Chelsea DeNofa Turbo BMW Drift, Doug Van Den Brink Drift Mustang, NST Chelsea DeNofa Green BMW, NST Drift Team, Steve Angerman Gardella Solstice, XDC 2010 Points Leader, XDC Hyperfest Coverage, XDC Round 3 Hyperfest. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.