What is it like to compete in the Formula Drift Link ECU PRO2 Drift championship?
A top professional drifter does not just come out of nowhere. In a sport that takes a lot of skill, experience and of course, sponsorship, to win at the elite level, a driver often competes for many years before reaching the Pro class.
This is where the feeder series’ come to the forefront.
In every major drifting championship across the globe, there is a ‘support’ category which drivers compete in to earn their pro license. The Link ECU PRO2 Category is the feeder class for Formula Drift PRO in the USA, one of the world’s premier drift competitions. Be warned, however, these are not second-rate classes. The competition is tough, the cars are high horsepower and the teams are committed outfits. To understand what it’s like to compete in this category, Link ECU spoke with PRO2 driver Brody Goble.
Canadian Brody and his Nissan 240SX finished in the top 5 at three of the four competition events throughout 2018, earning his Pro license for the second year running. Despite his commitment to drifting, Brody still works full time in a family workshop and runs his own media business. Drifting is an expensive sport and it can be a long road to the top. It is certainly a worthwhile ride, however. The exact thrill of burning rubber in a competition car is too exhilarating to put into words contributing to the addiction many Pro hopefuls experience. Brody is well on his way towards a future in the sport, making the jump to the PRO class in 2019.
While Formula Drift Pro has seven rounds throughout the whole of the USA, the PRO2 class competes at four of these rounds. The rules are similar to that of the Pro category, only differing in the tires used and the smaller number of rounds which helps to keep the costs down.
As the title sponsor of the class, Link Engine Management have invested in the future of the sport. The aim is to help young drivers off the streets and into a safer environment where they can exercise their passion for powerful cars.
Link Engine Management systems are also a vital part of many team’s competitive package, providing safety limits, data logging and boost control features to these powerful vehicles. In 2018, Pro2 users included championship winner Travis Reeder. Brody’s 2018 car is equipped with the most powerful Link ECU, a G4+ Thunder ECU. It seems 1000 horsepower is now the minimum required to compete at this level and his package certainly has the power and reliability to get the job done.
Have a read of the interview below as we discover more about Brody, his car, and competing in the Link ECU Pro 2 category of Formula Drift.
Link ECU: How did you get started in drifting?
BG: I grew up as one of those little karting kids and got pretty deep into that sport travelling throughout North America. When I was making the switch from karts to cars I saved up to buy a 240sx to slide around and learn some car control. One thing led to the next and of course I found myself entering a drift competition for the first time ever really drifting when I was 18. Placed 3rd out of the 18 drivers entered without even have a handbrake in the car and I’ve been hooked ever since!
Link ECU: How long have you been drifting for?
BG: On and off since I was 18 (I’m 28 now). The focus in the beginning was still on road racing but since 2013 I have basically put all my eggs in the drifting basket and haven’t looked back.
Link ECU: What made you make the step up to Formula Drift PRO 2?
BG: I think it is important to always push yourself in car racing because you never know how long you can make the sacrifices for to create a program and have the opportunity to compete. I’ve always wanted to see how far I can take my driving, so it was natural to keep pushing to drive against people who are better than me and see if I can simply figure it out.
Link ECU: What made you make the step up to Formula Drift PRO 2?
BG: I think it is important to always push yourself in car racing because you never know how long you can make the sacrifices for to create a program and have the opportunity to compete. I’ve always wanted to see how far I can take my driving so it was natural to keep pushing to drive against people who are better than me and see if I can simply figure it out.
Link ECU: How did your season go in 2018?
BG: Rocky start but solid overall. We had some car troubles with an untested setup at our first event in Atlanta and didn’t qualify for our first time ever. It was hard to swallow as we stood on the podium in Atlanta just 1 year prior. After that, we got back home to Vancouver, Canada and got some proper testing in and finished in the top 5 for all of the remaining events. This is the second time we have now earned our Pro 1 license after a successful season in Pro 2.
Link ECU: Which personnel does your team consist of?
BG: Tommy Franke of Frankenstein Speed and Custom, Clay Beier, Keith Carter, my wife Grace who helps with media and my dad Alex.
Link ECU: How do you travel to the races? (drive in a semi, trailer the car? etc)
BG: With so much travel across the USA for Formula Drift my dad helps me with it. We have a 2 car semi (referred to as a “toterhome”) where I can haul my own car and Brandon Schmidt’s Pro 2 car as well. My wife and I usually drive to the event and stay in the motorhome portion of the tractor and then fly home to get back to work once the event is over. My dad will fly down for the event and then drive the rig back home to Canada for us which is a massive help.
Link ECU: What is your car? Detail of the modifications etc….
BG: Currently we are competing in a 1998 Nissan 240sx (s14) with a 427ci RHS engine, Mast Motorsports Black Label heads and a Vortech V-7 Ysi-B blower. It makes right around 1050whp with the Link Thunder ECU and Ignite Red 114 ethanol race fuel fed through a complete Radium Engineering fuel system. Gearbox is a 4speed G-Force GSR dogbox paired to a Winters Quick Change and Driveshaft Shop Axles and Driveshaft. Suspension is from Fortune Auto and all of the arms underneath are Voodoo13. ASD Handbrake with Wilwood brakes on all 4 corners and TAKATA seats and harnesses inside. Rear radiator and all of the fabrication components supplied by Vibrant Performance and built by Tommy at Frankenstein Speed and Custom.
Link ECU: How long have you owned this car?
BG: We began building this car in 2016 and it was debuted in the 2017 Pro 2 season. Previously we ran a naturally aspirated stroker LS s13 240sx in the 2015 Pro 2 Season. More pow is more fun though!
Link ECU: Who did the tuning?
BG: Tuned by a local LS wizard here in Canada, Matt Jamoukhanov. Matt has a ton of experience with supercharged LS engines as well as ethanol/methanol so it was a perfect fit. Matt is crazy, he drives around a near 800whp pump gas corvette on the street and has been thrashing on it for years without any issue so I knew he would be the guy we needed. Dyno services were provided by our local Ford dealership, Brown Bros. Ford. They have an awesome race shop and a bunch of their own badass road race cars that I occasionally am allowed to get behind the wheel of.
Link ECU: Why do you bother running an aftermarket ECU for drifting?
BG: When you need to feed (8) 1725cc injectors enough ethanol to make over 1000hp to the tires a lot can go wrong. Making sure this engine stays alive for an entire season of Formula Drift is essentially put on the tuner and ECU so reliability of the LINK products is very important to us. Logging and a ton of other options in it allow us to monitor everything and to find problems before something catastrophic takes place.