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  1. Norfolk Arena BDC licensing day 2013 - the Tram...

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    Norfolk Arena BDC licensing day 2013.

    After keeping an eye on the weather forecasts and actual weather happening outside and it becoming apparent that the day would go ahead (with snow or without, say what you will about the arena days, one thing that doesn't faze them is the weather conditions) I bundled up and made my way into the snowy sunshine :-/

    When I arrived free practice was in full swing, the track had been ploughed of it's 3" snow covering and people were merrily slithering around the track getting used to the new, wider layout and the treacherously slippy track surface.

    You could immediately tell this was no practice day and the BDC judges were in attendance - the amount of JDM weaponry on display was way beyond the normal Norfolk quota.

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    The tramps were out in force too though, with D, Kiwi, Smiffy (although I didn't know he was there so didn't pay any attention to him until after the judged runs) and Alex all having a crack to if nothing else get an honest appraisal of where their skills were.

    Malx was as ever wandering about freely offering his sage advice - and to their credit, the drivers I know were all eagerly listening and taking it on board while Sweeps and Chunk were in the control box paying attention to what was occurring on the track.

    Some great (and not so great) car control was on show in the free practice as drivers got used to the grip levels - however suprisingly few cars made trips into the snow bank that had formed when ploughing the snow off the track. Several drivers were making half-hearted attempts at runing the snow bank but it was obvious people were taking it easy to make sure their cars made it to the judged runs - probably after seeing a white S14a tap the rear on the bank and have the front pull in resulting in a very lopsided face due to a snapped bumper.

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    A notable exception to this was Kiwi - who put in what for me was the best run of the whole day, using the snow bank on one lap to clinically remove his rear bumper then clipping it again on the following lap to bump it safely on top of the snow bank. Was an excellent display.

    In the pits the usual mockery and japery was in full flow, with offensive slogans needing to be wiped off (mainly Kiwi's car tbh...), Alex's upswept exhaust being used as an ice mortar and D's E30 doing everything in it's power to ensure failure (at one point the serpentine drive belt shredded and wiped out his PAS pipework resulting in fucked steering and a puddle of BeemerBlood under the car... needless to say, within an hour it was fiximicated with begged or borrowed bits and out for a final test run to make sure it would hold together just a little bit longer).

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    Just after lunchtime Sweeps gave his pre-judged-run driver's briefing, nerves got jangling and the runs that counted started...

    Given the conditions, there was a very mixed bag of talent on display. One of the most noticable things was that it really doesn't matter what you drive or how well equipped you are if the seat time/talent isn't there. This was proven time and time again as some beautiful (if very Japanese) metal was outperformed by much cheaper and less 'drifty' stuff with drivers who had obviously been putting in the quality seat time.

    I'll offer some of my personal highlights, but these will be biased towards the folks I know or cars that caught my eye - they were the ones I was hanging out with and paying attention to.

    The first run was the guy in the RWD Audi estate - this things sounds fucking awesome in a way only a juicy Audi can and looks cool as fuck to boot. He put in what looked to me to be a near faultless run and Very consistent, if anything a little conservative.

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    (If anyone knows who this guy is let me know, I want to feature that Audi! Flump)

    Kiwi was the first of the tramps in the queue - as he came onto the track I can only imagine what his nerves were doing. Ours in the grandstand were going mental. He put in 2 solid runs making good use of the extra lock from the modified hubs with the other marred by an overexuberant cone clip sending the cone flying. Touramp2 seemed well planted and predictable even if it was very apparent that a BMW needs to be DRIVEN to slide like the more drifty equipment.

    D was the next one I was really paying a lot of attention to, in the battered E30. In all honesty, most were amazed the car had got as far as it had, let alone were expecting D to put in a spectacular performance in a car that he still hadn't finished building, with binding brakes that barely worked and steering that had really been through the mill and wasn't feeling very confidence inspiring. D put in 3 solid, uneventful laps - the ridiculous lock that thing has was making it easier for him to concentrate on hitting the clipping points.

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    The rest of the field seemed divided into distinct categories. Slow and conservative people who were keen to do a solid run without spinning. Fast and brave people who seemed to be trying to push their boundaries - always a mistake in those conditions and generally ended up spinning out.

    After the judged runs it was time for open practice. While the judges had the unenviable task of deciding who got what (fuck that job, I wouldn't want it) the drifters had a chance to release their nerves without the gaze of the judges. And now the snow wall was being aimed at and rubbed and people were really going for it. You coud almost see the release all over the track... ooo-er... :-S

    This was when I met Smiffy and felt a bit bad for taking no interest in his 'just another s-body' judged runs. SO I have no idea how he drove. Pretty well it would appear. So well done Smiffy :-) Car's a pretty Nissan too :-)

    Come announcement time it had gotten dark and pretty fucking cold too, so everyone was keen to get the results. The trampers at least weren't disappointd, a haul of 2 Pro licenses (Smiffy and Kiwi) and a Semi-Pro (D) was enough to do TrampDrift proud.

    This was (I believe) only the second time I've been to a BDC event, the first being a license day at Llandow a few years ago, so this really is a view 'from the outside' as it were. Competitive drifting really isn't my thing but personally knowing people who have a stake in it really does make it a lot more exciting. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, and had a properly good laugh.

    The BDC staff seem to have their shit together, the day seemed to run relatively smoothly despite the weather and I think most of the decisions they got right.

    As always massive thanks and props go out to the NADT staff. Malx, Minnie and co. always go the extra mile to look after the drifters, and this was no exception.


    Keep your eyes peeled for anything you think is feature worthy and get in touch with ether myself or with Drew and we'll get on it.

    Stay patient, there will be more, much more.........................

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    • Jun 20 2013 12:22 PM
    • by duke
  2. HMO. The frankenskidder.

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    Vol. 1: ----- HMO 4.3 V8 -----

    If you’ve been involved in drifting for more than a year you’ll probably be aware of the first incarnation of HMO, the fire spitting 4.3 TVR engined E36 monster Gibson built.

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    The thing was so loud it brought Santa Pod’s pit area to a silent standstill the moment it was fired up, but it had its problems, mostly reliability - it didn’t have any.

    When it worked it was truly brilliant, went where it was told to go, held the angle needed and most importantly, smoked like an oil fire! Problem was it was seldom seen to happen, the alloy block v8 was just too weak to take the strain thrown at it and would often give up the ghost.

    After over a year’s worth of building and testing the decision was made to pull it apart and start again when it dropped its oil pump on track. Which brings us to the current version.

    HMO 2.0

    After dropping its oil pump at pod the decision was made to pull HMO to bits and start again, but with the shell cut about to fit the V8 a reshell was needed, so, everything was pulled off, the useful stuff put to one side for later, and the rest was sold on or scrapped.

    The search for a new car came to an end fairly quickly with a 2.5 auto at a pretty cheap price, this was collected and the tear down started immediately, with the auto setup swapped out for manual and a small case diff fitted the drive train was sorted.

    Coilovers sorted the ride height and every bush was swapped out for a poly version. To keep some of the original HMO alive the front end from the V8 was used, front wings, bonnet and M3 bumper made their way on and a set of Rondells were squeezed under the arches.

    For a bit of chassis stiffening an x-brace was fitted and a room bar installed in the cab. Of course Gibson’s own Gibfab lock spacers and camber kit found their way onto the car.

    Interior wise pretty much everything was pulled out and thrown in the scrap pile, a set of reclining buckets with harnesses and a horizontal hydro made their way in and a Chizfab wheel fitted and that’s about it.

    With the car ready to go it was dragged to Pod for a shakedown, with only a few issues with the poly engine mounts early on in the day it was a pretty successful test. There was however, one major problem and it wasn’t with the car!

    Gibson had quite quickly realised that he had been spoilt in the power department by both the original HMO and the Shiny Shiny 328 that was used alongside it that later made its way to Smiffy.

    So once again the decision was made to pull the car apart, just not too drastically this time, the 2.5 was sold on and a 2.8 was sourced. Between the new engine and gearbox lurks a 323-328 hybrid paddle clutch that was put together from two kits on the day of fitting. The engine was blessed with an M50 manifold and throttle body along with a reworked version of the V8’s twin exit exhaust. After a few drift days the diff has been swapped out from a basic small case conversion to and E36 328-E30 325 hybrid hyper diff.

    On the road

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    Having had the pleasure of driving this on the road I can give a real world insight to how it feels, it quit simply brutal. Ever had the feeling that your spine is going to exit the top of your skull when your drive over a Rizal? I have!

    But it’s in this brutality that you find trust in a track car, the simple fact that you can feel every bump, crease and divot in the road only accentuates the driving pleasure.

    You know exactly what’s going on at all times giving you the confidence to do what you want to do. Even with the small case diff that was fitted when I drove it, coupled up with the M50’d 2.8 up front you have the confidence to chuck it about in the corners, even when you don’t want the back end swinging about like a pendulum.

    The Suspension is just right, along with the plethora of poly bushes it really does handle like a dream. The sound track you’re treated to on the trip is beautiful, a deep raspy note on the power followed by a deeper gurgle, pops and bangs when off it.

    There really was a very good reason that when I got my own 328 I decided to copy HMO down to the last nut and bolt, just in saloon form!

    On Track

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    Now I’ve never had the pleasure of driving this on track but I have spent countless hours in the passenger seat, so this is from an observer’s point of view.

    Poised, Nimble, Aggressive. The three words that sum this up really, with the suspension set up the way it is along with the full set of of polyurethane HMO makes things look easy on the limit, it doesn’t work against you, it works alongside you, almost egging you on to go harder.

    I have the habit of watching the driver when I’m riding passenger, instead of watching what way we’re pointed, and from that viewpoint things look very controllable, where Gibson looks is where HMO goes and it does that smoothly and effortlessly.

    The uptake through the rev range is brutal, hitting the limiter quickly in first and second, whether its holding 3rd on a nice long corner without bogging down or blipping its way round a hairpin in second it’s always got the grunt to break into a nice controlled slide.

    This is again all helped with just how well the chassis is set up. With the rear camber control arms that are on their way to being fitted things can only get better for HMO’s drivability.

    Of course there has been the odd off, seeing it plough though a large amount of railings at Pod was a highlight of mine, it came through pretty unscathed as well. But being a BMW that’s too be expected, bashed the flatted arch back out and she was good to go.

    Mike@TDSW (veteran of just about every E36 in just about every state of tune imaginable) had this to say about HMO:

    It's fricking awesome for a budget build. I've owned loads of E36s and it's up there with the best of them - pulls hard for a 328. Honestly, power and some ultimate refinement/fine touches aside it's not dissimilar to drift than my M3 - and that owes me about 8 grand!

    Without taking it on track myself that’s about as much as I can give you for the moment. But from what I’ve seen, and I’ve ridden in 30 plus E36s at this point in time, this is one of the best all-rounders going. And I would recommend that anyone that’s planning on building a track based E36 follows in the same direction as Gibson and HMO.

    • Jun 20 2013 12:24 PM
    • by duke