Last week I had the opportunity to meet up with Formula Drift driver, Chelsea Denofa, when him and his team came up to Philly for Round 4 of Formula Drift at Wall Speedway in Wall, NJ.
Once race day came around on Saturday I threw on a Denofa Motorsports shirt and spent the day with the team. It was a great time and one of the best events I have been to this year. The competition was intense and the cars were awesome!
Chelsea killed it in the practice round and Top 32 series. No one can beat the angle and smoke that his BMW E36 sedan can put out. The day was going smooth and Chelsea and the team were ready to take on the Top 16. Chelsea and the BMW were matched up against Tyler Mcquarrie and his Chevy Camaro. The first run went smooth with Chelsea getting the crowd hyped up with the crazy amount of smoke pouring off the rear tires in the last bend. However the second run did not go as planned for anyone. The second run resulted in Tyler sliding up the first bank into the wall and Chelsea following. There has been a large amount of controversy about the judges decision after the crash, so below is the crash in both drivers point of view as commented on a post on WreckedMagazine.com.
“Wowzers! haha. Let me start by saying I am glad Tyler and I both are walking and traveling home today. It really was a gnarly crash. Ill give you my honest play by play from my point of view.
Lets start with the lead run. I had been doing the hand brake entries all weekend, and in my run I did the same late hand brake entry that put my rear end on the wall. During this run, my initiation was not aggressive enough to get the car at comfortable angle, so I had to steer the car to that point. Which I DO consider a bobble (similar to Daigo in his follow run against Chris). From all of my footage, this caused Tyler to have a bobble as well. The rest of my run was at large angle, on line, and lots of smoke and speed, keeping a gap between Tyler and I while he did hit the transition clip in front of the crowd, and lifted the rear tire onto the bank.
Following run of DOOM!
Tyler had been doing a super gangster entry all weekend, I was actually jealous of it! But I also knew it would be tough to follow. I went into the run knowing I would have to leave a gap and close it by the 2nd outer clip by the stands. My speeds from the outer clip to the inside bank were 7+ mph faster then Tylers, So that was my strategy. We leave the line, I leave the gap. He enters with a low line, So a stay slightly shallower so that I am able to close the gap. As I was reeling him in I noticed that there was a change in his angle, I added angle and followed his line for another 100ft. I then started pedaling the throttle to lower my speed because I could see that he was going towards the wall. At this point I had to make a decision. I was either going to go directly into Tyler with my side of the car on throttle, or put the (already been smashed 4 times) rear of my car into the wall with large angle and throttle and try not to smash my front. I chose the wall. I would like to say my decision was based in favor of a lesser injury for the both of us and my car, but it happened so fast that I can only admit choosing the wall instead of the Camaro. I understand that judging is a very hard job and would not want to be in any of their shoes. Here is my slight issue.
Please understand that I am just stating my point of view and understand the decision has been made. If my bobble in the lead run (which I completed) was the reason Tyler who hit the transition clip and put a tire off course took the win, Then how was his wall hit (not finishing the run) not equal or more of a bobble. I have learned a lot from this accident, but I will continue to push the envelope and drive as aggressive as possible. That is a promise! I am glad Tyler and I can keep this website true to its name!”
“I think I should jump in here…. Not to changed people’s minds on the issue but to fill you guys in on what I was told by FD and how everything went down during our battle First off, I think every FD driver has a run they would want to have back, and this one is one for me! I’m glad Chelsea was ok but super bummed about his car!
In the drivers meeting the judges told us that our initiation needed to be just like our qualifying run with the technique we use and the speed. I don’t think Chelsea was playing games but our run up to the initiation was unusually slow and his initiation looked a little different. Not sure if he had a problem with the car but it was diferent After that run, EOS who was spotting for me said the judges were talking about it already.
For my lead run, I knew Chelsea has had some really good follow runs this year so my plan was to not hold anything back to try and prevent him from getting proximity on me. I initiated a little early and the car floated up the bank. The rear got in first then the front climbed the wall followed by Chelsea hitting me from behind. That’s all I knew at that point. I drove the car back to our pits thinking we were done. EOS came over the radio and said the judges were reviewing our battle. I went and apologized to his crew first. I found Chelsea and apologized to him too, But he told me to not worry about it. He said it was not my fault that he crashed…. He said he was going in to the bank to fast and if I didn’t hit the wall he would have either way. That’s how the judges saw it too, which is why they went back to the first run for their decision. This is not the first time this has happened. DMac vs Chris last year at Irwindale. Dmac made a mistake on their first run. Chris crashes the Dmac crashes on their second run so they went back to the first run for the decision and Chris won. Either way, I’m sure a lot of people will still have the same opinion on this run, which I cant blame you for that. I just wanted people to know my side of it and that Chelsea even told me it wasn’t my fault that he crashed. I felt bad for Chelsea yesterday and feel even worse today. I hate seeing any driver lose a car!
Again, I’m not trying to change people’s view on this but just trying to fill you guys in on what I was told and saw.”
Here is a video right off the BMW GoPro by Cody Slack of BC Racing and member of Chelsea’s crew.
We will let you decide what you think the judges call should have been.
Anyways, here are some pics and a video from the day with Denofa and team.
Words and Photos by: Mike DeFusco