Every year the staff from Wilwood loves working our booth at the Formula Drift round at the Long Beach Grand Prix circuit. Many of the top drifters are using Wilwood products throughout their cars, and even a lot of amateurs use an extra Wilwood caliper connected to our handbrake with one of our master cylinders in the cockpit. The overall winner of this year's event was Matt Field in the Borla Corvette, which is equipped with many Wilwood parts, including the rotors and calipers.
For the uninitiated, Drifting is as much akin to figure skating or skateboarding as it is to traditional road racing. Drift drivers elegantly slide their cars sideways through high-speed corners, battling each other for biggest angle and most accuracy. It is still a relatively young form of motorsports, featuring a very diverse vehicle field, with drivers following different routes to create their ultimate drift machine. The only thing all these cars have is common is that they are rear-wheel drive, even the Toyota Corolla, because it is impossible to drift a front-drive car.
Displayed at the Wilwood booth were a Toyota 4Runner, and a BMW E30. The 4Runner was a nicely outfitted late model TRD Pro, with our new Aero6-DM direct-mount brake kit on it, which bolts up as easily as the stock parts and drastically improve the braking when loaded down with gear. The E30 was a custom-built, competition-ready, coupe with a twin turbo LS V8 motor under the hood, built by P2 Fabrication and owned by bushdog_e30 on Instagram. They appealed to two different audiences, but both very, very popular.
Wilwood loves coming to this event because brakes are so critical in drifting, not so much for stopping but for controlling the wheels to help initiate a slide. It is important to have enough thermal capacity to still have brakes at the end of the run, but equally important is to have predictable bite, friction, and pedal/lever feel every time you apply the brakes. Wilwood staff helped out cars equipped with our product with troubleshooting, but we also helped the teams not using our stuff too, and not by trying to sell them new brakes.
A highlight of the show for us again this year was a visit from a large group of high school kids with the Acceler8 Education Program. This extra-curricular program is designed to help kids with an interest in cars and racing to pursue careers in the industry after graduation. Since even enthusiasts seldom think about their brakes unless they stop working, we were able to teach them many of the engineering considerations in making a reliable performance braking system.
The top two drivers were both using Wilwood brakes. Rome Charpentier took the runner up slot, and Matt Field was crowned the winner. The Wilwood team helped Jonathan Hurst get his car back together and make the big show after a broken axle messed up his qualifying - he finished 4th overall after tagging the wall.