All posts by Robert Ljuba

Fitzgerald USA – Semi Casual Show 2018

We are all familiar with the wide variety of shows revolving around the automotive industry, but have you ever heard of a semi truck show? Yeah…neither have we, until Crick’s partner Fitzgerald USA invited us to their Semi Casual Truck Show!
 

The timing was perfect; May 4-5 would be the days for the Semi Casual show, located at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, TN. After the show, we would be able to make our way to Atlanta, GA for the first round of Formula Drift PRO2 that would land on the following weekend.

 

 

 

Let the show begin! We drove Crick’s car to the staging area; this is where the tractors would line up to drag race down the famous Bristol Dragway…yes DRAG RACE! Before this weekend I never thought I’d see a tractor run a 15.4 in the quarter mile. It was quite impressive considering Crick’s 17′ F250 ran a 16.2 with 6 of us packed in there haha. Diesel powered trucks took over the drag strip for 3-4 hours with nothing but sunny skies and black soot above them!

 

 

Show tractors that would rival some great builds at SEMA were driven miles to attend this show, and then cleaned for hours before the show began. These were not only show pieces, but workhorses that provided the means for the drivers and their families. No two tractors were the same in any way; you could analyze each one closely and see personable touches that would be significant or sentimental to their owner. Each was a work of art to say the least.

 

 

Demo time! Freestyle stunt riders Jesse Toler and Rodney Sargent would share the spotlight with us as we gave the folks of Bristol a show to remember and to look forward to for years to come! Jesse, Rodney, and Crick piloted their toys around the truck show to bring attention to the staging area where the demo would take place. Once the crowd was in place…the stunts began! Jesse and Rodney warmed the crowd up with some stoppies, drifting, and other sketchy stunts on 2-wheels. Following the riders was Crick; who woke his twin-turbo V8 S13 and began destroying his Nexen Tires on the staging area. Mid-drift, Crick gave Jesse and Rodney the signal to come out for the finale! Red, White, and Blue! While Jesse and Rodney roasted their rear tires revealing blue and red smoke, Crick continued to swinging wide donuts around them completing the trio of a patriotic smoke cloud! The crowd went crazy!

 

 

 

 

With the sun setting, it was time to acknowledge all participants and give awards to the trucks that stood out the most not only by the judges, but by the spectators as well. I thought it was really cool how the spectators got to vote on their favorite tractor of the show. Categories would include but not limited to; best engine bay, interior, exterior, Top 25, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Congratulations to all participants!

 

 

 

Closing the night out. As a surprise to us and probably most of the attendees, Fitzgerald USA closed this event in fashion by having the band Foghat perform on stage for the folks of Tennessee. The speakers were turned up, stage bumpin’, and crowd jumpin’!

 

At the end of the show; the Fitzgerald staff presented Crick and the team with the “Furthest Traveled” award for our efforts. This capped off the weekend on the highest note for us, and we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
 

 

At this time we would like to formally thank all branches under the Fitzgerald USA umbrella for inviting us to your Semi Casual Truck Show. This will forever be burned into our memories and will go down as one of our best trips as a team. We’d also like to thank Jessica: @jayfizzy4rizzie and Chelsea: @_charms for shooting these pictures that capture the essence of the event. Lastly, we’d like to thank our friends Lisa and Nate for their support of TBTM and giving us this opportunity. We hope we made you all proud! Thank you!

Gates Promo: Asphalt to Agriculture

Last season we acknowledged our partnership with Gates Auto; one of the leading manufacturers of application specific fluid power and power transmission solutions.
 

 
This season we are grateful to announce that our partnership is continuing, but has kicked off in a slightly different route than expected…We all strive to make whatever we are racing as reliable as possible, but sometimes we seem to forget what gets us there or what pays the bills to get us to our events.
 
2002 F250 (7.3): This truck has been in my possession for 6 years and I’ve loved every bit of it. There was even a length of time when we were using it to tow Crick’s car to Bash to the Future and ASB. Recently I installed 2 new Motorcraft batteries and an alternator, while doing so I thought it would be a good idea to replace the belt, so that’s when I called our contact at Gates. Shortly after our call, the order was on the way! After I received it; there seemed to be a lot more than what we spoke about. Gates supplied us with 2 radiator hoses, belt, tensioner, and clamps! For those of you with this truck, you know that the OEM upper radiator hose goes through the belt so if you ever needed to change the belt you’ll have to pull that hose first. This can make for a messy install, which should be clean and very simple. Gates has resolved this issue by re-routing the upper radiator hose! Save yourself the future headache and convert yours now! Part numbers can be seen in the photos!
 


 
Here is the finished product!
 

 

Next up to reap from the benefits of Gates Auto…Crystal Hooks. Crystal has recently acquired John Deere 1010 and 2010 tractors to help maintain her 40 acre back-country home. Crystal mentioned to me that she was in need of 2 drive-belts; 1 for each tractor. One tractor I believe was her father’s, and she’s in the midst of bringing it back to a reliable/functional state. She decided to display her appreciation to Gates with this video she produced in her shop, showing the installation of Gates RPM belts on her SR20, as well as the drive belt on her 1010 tractor! Enjoy!

Wisefab 2.0 Install w/Crick F. & Faruk K.

Wisefab has been the leader in angle modifications within drifting the last 5 years running, and has only evolved since. Their new 2.0 kit recently hit the shelves and is even more intense than before (which is hard to believe). Here is what 2017 Formula Drift Champion; James Dean has to say about it…

 

For those that do not know; Faruk Kugay of Formula Drift is one of the USA connects for all of your Wisefab needs. Faruk also assists in running our Sonoma Drift program here in Northern California, and is where are relationship with him strengthened.

Faruk and Crick competed in Golden Gate Drift Pro-Am together and earned their Pro2 licenses the same year. Both drivers have ran the Wisefab 1.0 on their Formula Drift competition vehicles and were impressed with the results, so when Faruk brought the 2.0 to Crick’s attention we knew we had to get our order in ASAP.

Faruk and Crick’s dedication to help and guide the drifting community in the correct direction has led them to formulate this install tutorial for the new 2.0 kit. With Faruk’s background with the company, and Crick’s fabrication and  ‘know-how’ skills; we hope this video can make it easier for you to install your own kit. TBTM would like to thank Shane Jaskolski (@2shaanez) for the shooting/editing of this video. You knocked it out the park dude!

Photographer Spotlight: Jessica Miller

Just because the season ended doesn’t mean content has to stop right? We are on the third installment of our Photographer Spotlight acknowledgments; this time we are putting our focus on Jessica Miller!
 
Jessica is one of the many photographers that found their way to the Sonoma Drift paddock, and has been attracted to the sounds of high revving engines and billowing clouds or tire smoke. We had the opportunity to sit down with Jessica to find out just who she was outside of this race environment…the answers may surprise you.
 
1: What brand/model camera do you shoot with?
Currently I have a Canon 7d Mark II. Before Winter Jam last year I was hunting for a new camera, rented this model for one of the last Wednesday drifts. It was awesome for action/motorsport photography, plus it fit in my hand. I went and purchased it just in time for Winter Jam (it arrived on Thursday) and haven’t looked back. Although I am always on the hunt for the “perfect” lens.
 

 
2: How long have you had photography as a hobby and/or job?
I bought my first “real” camera for the America’s Cup in SF a couple of years ago. It has only evolved from there. I am now rarely without it.
 

 
3: What are your favorite types of events to shoot and why?
One of the best things about being a photographer, is you get to be outside, explore, and try to capture a single moment in a static shot. Really, any event that’s outside is fine with me. Sport-wise, I stick to surfing and drifting. But I’ve also shot some weddings, parties, food shoots, etc. None of those even comes close to the excitement of standing on the wall as a couple TBTM drivers come sliding past half an inch on the other side. Shooting surfing and drifting are somewhat similar. You can’t get so absorbed in what you are seeing through your lens that you lose focus of what is going on around you.
 

 
4: How long have you been shooting Sonoma Drift events?
My first time at Sonoma Raceway and seeing drifting in person was March of last year. It was quite the show, seeing Elijah, Crick, and Joe all drift together. I was a spectator and shooting from any vantage point I could get, mainly on the stairs of the grandstands. It wasn’t until towards the end of the season when I finally got a media pass and started standing on the wall. Well, it took until Winter Jam until I stood right next to the wall.
 

 
5: You mentioned prior to this interview that you don’t have an automotive background or know much about cars. How did you get into shooting drifting?
Before I started attending drift events, I was in awe of Kingsly Hurley’s shots he was posting on Instagram. He was super chill and introduced me to this world. And it has taken off since then. I still don’t know much about cars. I have to keep a spreadsheet with all the drivers’ car info (make, model, color, etc) because I am car blind. I am constantly learning new tips and tricks to shooting drifting and always trying to evolve my editing style.
 

 
6: Do you have a favorite event that you look forward to going to every year? Not necessarily to shoot, but just to attend?
I’ve only been to one Winter Jam, but as soon as they released the dates for this year’s Winter Jam, it was on my calendar. Outside of drift, there’s a spot in the Marin Headlands, not a long hike but it’s all steep hills. Getting there while the low fog is flowing in and around the Golden Gate Bridge but you are still warm in the August sun, that’s magic. Not really an event, though. I hope to get out and start shooting more car/drifting events next year. Besides Winter Jam the only other car event’s I’ve attended are classic/vintage car shows/races; a lot of fun and beautiful, but none of the adrenaline of a drifting event. Sort of like trying to compare a cup of earl grey tea to a red bull.
 

 
7: Do you have a favorite car you like to shoot at Sonoma?
I’m a huge fan of smoke (who isn’t?) so I’m partial to standing right on the wall at the ‘clipping point’ as Crick slides past. But honestly, I like shooting all the different cars. Seeing the drivers’ get better over the season. Seeing the different paddock courses. Every run is different no matter how amazing the driver. Sonoma Raceway is crazy beautiful, so it’s always a challenge to find a composition that shows the beauty of the location with the raw power of a car sliding past creating a smoke screen.
 

 
Jessica; like many others, is consistently sharing her work with the drivers. This is definitely noticed by us, and we are more than appreciative of her efforts. We’d like to formally thank you for all that you do for not only TBTM, but for the culture.

TBTM partners with Fuel Injector Connection for 2018

About a month ago, Robert Ljuba leaked a little teaser about a new partner joining the TBTM family so without further adieu we’d like to introduce Fuel Injector Connection as a partner for Crick Filippi and his 2018 Formula Drift PRO2 season.
 

 
Crick was introduced to FIC (Fuel Injector Connection) last season after being referred by our tuner; Nick Newton of Newtech Performance in Hayward, CA. We sent over Crick’s OEM LS Deka injectors to get resized to 72lb to fuel our Magnuson TVS2300 Supercharger. The turn-around time was little to no time at all, customer service was great, and the quality spoke for itself. We had and still do not have any issues with their product, and that is why we came back to them this season for our 127lb injectors + Radium fuel rails to feed our new twin-turbo system.
 

 
Crick’s new TT system would go onto make 912whp/840tq after being tuned by Nick at Newtech Performance, and would carry Crick to his podium finish that following weekend at Sonoma Drift’s: Winter Jam 2017 event. We hope this is a repeating pattern and we continue to excel with this new and more efficient fuel delivery system.
 

 
History of FIC:
FIC first opened their retail doors in the North Georgia area in October 2007. Since 1986, they have been rebuilding fuel injectors for major rebuilders on sublet contracts that supply the aftermarket through major auto parts chains.
 
In 1996, they started offering cleaning and testing services for electronic fuel injectors on a wholesale basis to repair shops all over South Florida. Their business continues to rapidly grow, and they are known throughout the industry as the leaders in fuel injector reconditioning. FIC’s reconditioned injectors are shipped all over the world, with a heavy concentration in North, Central, and South America.
 
FIC uses state of the art equipment from ASNU, a leader in cleaning/testing flow benches for gasoline fuel injectors. They also sell a full line of new injectors as well as their own “Blue Demon” injectors that are perfectly flow balanced and rebuilt with viton o-rings.
 
All of their reconditioning work and rebuilt injectors are guaranteed for 3 years.
 
Services offered by FIC:
-Injector resizing service
-Injector restoration service
-Injector data request’s
 
Thank you again FIC for solidifying this partnership. We look forward to sharing all victories with you!
 
Photographer:
Aaron Weinberger

Winter Jam 2017

354 registered drivers, capped media personnel locked in at 80, and a crowd attendance that could rival INDY; this is what makes Winter Jam at Sonoma Raceway the largest drifting event in the country and potentially in the world from a drivers registration standpoint! Each year this event grows more in every aspect. Between 2016 and 17′ our registered drivers increased by over 100, and having been around and involved since the beginning of this event; it is rewarding to see the lengths people go to make this event happen.

 

Day 1 (Saturday): I can’t lie…I wasn’t there. I was stuck in the gridlocked traffic on HW37 in my ‘Ljuba-ru’, and didn’t have the patience to deal with it, so I went home. Elijah on the other hand took full advantage of Winter Jam and its elaborate venue by driving on every layout available excluding the FD layout (Turn 7). Elijah’s presence + new look + new power was the combination that brought much attention to not only the team, but Elijah as an individual. Elijah’s partners made him priority by getting him much needed product to make this event possible for him. Shout out to SFG Wraps for getting him all of his partner stickers with just 1-day notice! If you need any vinyl please contact Danny at SFG Wraps! He will take care of you.

 

 

Day 2 (Sunday): With Crick battling the mechanics of his car it was all or nothing. Luckily he was able to tune his car at Newtech Performance in Hayward, CA late night Saturday after his rockers broke on his MAST heads the previous day. The solution was swapping the MAST with the LSX heads. Crick would leave the tuning session putting 912whp/840tq down to the ground.

 

Better late than never…Crick showed up to the track in-time to do one practice run (blowing off his power steering return line). Once repaired, it was time to qualify and he would seal up the 9th spot out of 16. Crick battled it out and served as victor until the Top 4 battle when he’d go against Matt Madrigali, a familiar face to those who have been drifting in NorCal. Crick put the pressure on in his follow run…a little too much, which would cause him to collide into Matt’s passenger door. Crick did not resume drifting which led the judges to giving him a 0 in that run. Crick would go onto battle for 3rd as Matt would go battle for top spot. In the end the podium would look like: Travis R.-1st, Matt M.-2nd, and Crick F. 3rd. This was a huge accomplishment for us and brought the fire back in Crick. Though this event didn’t put fourth the abuse of a Formula Drift event, it does look promising that we now have a reliable setup to compete with in 2018.

 

 

Elijah was at it again! Putting his footprint on all layouts and stirring up some serious smoke down the Summer Jam course. Elijah’s E36 planted by Stance XR1 coilovers, and XXR Wheels wrapped in Zestino rubber is a recipe for huge clouds and consistent grip. We have nothing, but love for these companies and the products they manufacture. Elijah holds a whole new confidence in his chassis after Winter Jam put it through extensive testing. We hope to see Elijah on grid at Top Drift Limited in 2018.

 

Photographers:
Kingsley Hurley
Steve McDermott
Cole Stroh
Jessica MillerThank you all who attended, as well as the staff who continues to make Winter Jam possible.

Videos:
Crick’s video shot by Shane Jaskolski (@2shaanez)

Elijah’s video shot by Devyn Roseman (@sk_3__)

Crick’s Partners:
Aeromotive
ATP Turbo
Canton Racing Products
Fitzgerald Glider Kits
Fuel Injector Connection
Gates Auto
Manley Performance
Phenix Industries
Sparco
Spec Clutch
Stance USA
TF Works
Wright Wraps
XXR Wheels

Elijah’s Partners:
Big Duck Club
Canton Racing Products
Gates Auto
Manley Performance
Nerp Tech
Phenix Industries
Stance USA
West Coast Ravenol
TF Works
Tial Sport
XXR Wheels
Zestino Tyre USA

From WHINE to WHISTLE *Part 3*

With the turbo setup finalized and in their final home, it was time to focus on the intercooler. Crick purchased 2 separate cores from ATP Turbo when we initially purchased all of the turbo components. His idea was to mate them together with two ports on the bottom and one center port on top to the LS3 intake manifold.
 

 
Would you just look at those welds!
 

 
“Measure twice, cut once” is what many of us were told growing up. This can be taken different ways for different situations. Obviously Crick had to precise on the placement of the intercooler + its angle.
 

 
It was awesome to see how much progress was happening in such a short amount of time. It seemed like every couple of hours, Crick was sending me photos of what he was working on next.
 
Next up was the intercooler-to-intake tube…
 

 
Symmetry is everything. Crick wasn’t only focused on reliability/functionality when beginning this conversion, but also wanted the “bad ass” effect. With 2 centered Tial Sport BOV’s parallel to the Tial Sport 44mm wastegates it was sure to bring the “badassness”. Not to mention it looks like a sick gas-mask.
 

 
Now what are you going to do with all of that boost and no fuel? TURN IT UP!!!!  With our new partnership with Fuel Injector Connection, we were setup with a set of 127lb injectors and a pair of Radium fuel rails to feed this beast the dragon juice it needs.
 

 
With just 2 days left until Winter Jam 2017…All Crick has left is to plumb the car, finish the exhaust, and put an accessory belt on. Tomorrow’s dyno tuning appointment should be very interesting. We will see you at Winter Jam!

From WHINE to WHISTLE *PART 2*

If you didn’t read *Part 1* then let me fill you in really quick…Crick installed his new MAST Black Label heads, and mounted the turbos temporarily so he could begin fabricating the custom manifolds. Drawing the imaginary lines from head to turbos would be Crick’s job as he had the turbos in their fixed location.
 

 
It made the job a little easier having a spare set of cylinder heads, that way Crick could utilize the flanges on his work bench for perfect fitment. One small hurdle that would be easily overcame was to wrap the runners around the shock tower on the driver side.
 

 
Looks…looks seem to be everything. We bounced ideas off of each other as to where to locate the collectors…straight up or tilted out. We agreed on tilted out.
 

 
All built and tac’d
 

 
With the driver side fitted and built. It was time to seal those openings with some dime-stacks.
 

 
Passenger side has begun.
 
Passenger side runners all finished and ready to be welded up.
 

 
The beginning of the Tial Sport 44mm adapter flanges. We can’t wait to hear the noise that comes from these babies!
 

From WHINE to WHISTLE *PART 1*

Since 2015, Crick Filippi has been whining his way through Formula Drift…quite literally I might add. (no pun intended). His Magnuson TVS2300 Supercharger was a very fun power adder, and it gave Crick that signature whine so everyone knew when he was on their door. For 2018, all of that would change…
 
After many ideas were tossed around in Crick’s garage about what to do for not only Winter Jam, but the 2018 season, Crick settled on going from whine…to whistle! Immediately after concretely deciding on a turbo setup, We reached out to ATP Turbo in Hayward, CA for their recommendations for the power we are seeking. The chosen setup was a set of twin GEN2 GTX3071R turbos that would be assisted by twin Tial Sport BOV and Wastegates.
 

 
Crick and the team have already started the disassembly of the older components, and started assembly for the new components. First thing first, removing the supercharger and opening a box we didn’t even know Crick had.. a brand new set of MAST Black Label LS3 heads that he received earlier this season. We thought this would be an appropriate time to get these beauties installed for more flow.
 

 
Next up was to mount the turbos where they’d find their final home.
 

 
We’d like to clear up any misconstrued words that have been lost in translation. Magnuson Superchargers makes a great product and they have wonderful customer service. They always took care of us, and made sure we were ready for war. The decision to go turbo was a group decision. We are hoping to make more reliable power with less abuse to the engine. And you better believe that Crick’s TVS2300 is staying in the family! It’ll either find it’s home on a 67′ Nova or a 67′ Camaro amongst the team.
 
Keep an eye out for Part 2!

Photographer Spotlight: Kingsley Hurley

After publishing our 1 on 1 with photographer Harry Chriest last month, we received a lot of praise for recognizing some of the local media personnel, which has led us to showcase photographers and their work throughout the year in our new ‘Photographer Spotlight’ series.
 
Our 2nd installment to the Photographer Spotlight goes to Kingsley Hurley / Instagram: @visualsofkings . Kingsley has been a name brought up more than on one occasion for not only his motorsports work, but also portrait, landscape, and other action sport visuals. Kingsley’s work is on a broad spectrum, which makes him an intriguing artist to follow. One day you may see a 1000hp drift car shredding tires up turn 2 at Sonoma Raceway, and the next day you may see a beautiful model being one with nature and all of its beauty. His artwork behind the camera is unparalleled, and we are always privileged to receive his work in our inbox!
 
Here is TBTM with Kingsley Hurley!
 

1: What brand/model camera do you shoot with?

I shoot with a Nikon D5200, in intermediate beginners camera but I have a couple $1k plus lenses that have helped me bring up the quality of my images to hold me over this last year. I’m actually buying a Nikon D750 in a couple weeks so I can take my business to the next level.
 

 

2: How long have you had photography as a hobby and/or job?
Well I started with film photography back in high school after I blew my knee out snowboarding. After about a year I ended up being the person in front of a camera more then behind one because I had got into BMX to strengthen my knee. Then life happened and about three and half years ago I got back into photography as a hobby. And a year later I was doing paid shoots for families. So for the last two years I’ve been growing my business slowly because I have a full time job to pay the bills but it has been coming along. I’m a regular photographer for some Wine Country Events in Sonoma and I’ve had 4 published shoots including a paid shoot for the Auto Meter catalog cover with Old Smokey F1 which was a really great opportunity.

 

 

3: What are your favorite types of events to shoot and why?
 Events, I would have to say drift. It’s laid back and fun and a great way to see cars that you don’t see often.

 

 

4: How long have you been shooting Sonoma Drift events?
Well this October marks 2 years for shooting regularly out at Sonoma Raceway for WND. When I first started going out there and shooting I noticed the regular photographers out there and I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. So the first year I mainly focused on doing heavy toned out “Instagram” edits of drift cars. I was also doing those edits to give the drivers something different then what the other photographers were doing from what I saw. After shooting out at Sonoma for a full year and people recognizing those edits and knowing who I was I started doing more standard or “magazine” edits to show more of what I can do.

 

 

5: Do you have a favorite event that you look forward to going to every year? Not necessarily to shoot, but just to attend?
No not really, I’m too busy. But this last year I went up to Bash to the Future 5 in Medofrd Oregon to shoot photos for just a day and that was rad. I liked being able to basically get right up on the track and get in spots for photos no other event will let you do for safety reasons. And I get it but I’m used to putting myself in harry spots with some of my other hobbies so the adrenaline junky in me likes shooting that event and will definitely be back this year.

 

 

6: Since we know you through the drifting demographic…If you had the opportunity to build whatever drift car you wanted; what would it be and what engine would power it?
That’s a tough one.. I’d probably have an old Datsun 240 or 280z with a 1jz so I could daily drive it and slide it.

 

 

Kingsley’s Social Media:
Facebook: Kingsley Hurley
Instagram: @visualsofkings
 
Without the media personnel at these events we all attend…there would be no material for us to reminisce on. Photographers and videographers not only build their own memories when they shoot an event, but they build our memories; the drivers’ memories. We want to take this time to not only thank Harry for his hard work, but ALL of you out there that scan the track for that perfect angle, stand in the blistering heat or frigid cold weather for hours, and endure the tire smoke we throw at you just to get that 1 shot…that 1 story…that 1 memory. You all deserve credit! Thank you.