Despite not qualifying for Top 32, the Essa Autosport team remained in good spirits and the SLP – Street Legal Performance Camaro made it’s debut at Formula Drift Round 1 – Streets of Long Beach. Building a brand new machine in a matter 2 months, meant the team would be making an improvement “to do list”, and undoubtedly be on a steep learning curve from the moment the car lined up for its first run.
Having only 1 short test day at Willow Springs prior to FD Round 1, Michael Essa and team used practice runs to make final suspension adjustments to better handle the tight Long Beach circuit, and shoot for the best results possible. Just narrowly missing the Top 32 cut in 33rd, the team had gathered enough data for upgrades and improvements to push forward to Formula Drift Round 2 – Road to the Championship at Road Atlanta, Georgia.
Essa Autosport would like to thank all sponsors of the 2015 Formula Drift build who provided amazing support and product in such a short time frame, making it possible to kick off the 2015 on a positive note. (Photo: Jay Velthoven of Roush/SLP, spotter Kevin Phillips, Michael Essa, and crew chief Stan Williams)
A few days after the Formula Drift season opener, Essa Autosport team returned to attend the Super Drift Challenge during the after hours of the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Michael Essa achieved great results during this event in the past, finishing 4th in 2014, and 2nd in 2013. With a $25,000 purse on the line, Essa and team were willing to let it hang out a little more the previous weekend.
With a noticeably more aggressive driving style after making slight adjustments to the SLP Camaro, Michael Essa qualified in 7th, which would put him right in the middle of the bracket, facing Brandon Wicknick out of Utah.
Essa’s battle with Brandon Wicknick represented a significant moment for the SLP and Roush brand. If Michael defeated Brandon, he would move on to face his Roush teammate, Justin Pawlak. After both drivers giving all they had and judges running them “One More Time”, Essa would be moving on to face Justin.
On his “A game” the previous weekend, Justin Pawlak would prove to be a formidable foe, forcing Michael Essa to drive the SLP Camaro 110% against the Roush Mustang. Justin, familiar with Mustang chassis that he has driven for years and having much more power, handed Michael the loss that would end his evening. The Essa Autosport wrapped up the event in good spirits, feeling that making an appearance and taking advantage of much needed seat time was a great success.
With the experience gained in Long Beach, the Essa Autosport team first attacked the need for more power. Heading over to Road Race Engineering in Santa Fe Springs, tuner Chris Jensen worked his magic on the SLP Camaro.
Prior to sorting out a few issues, making some improvements and adding various parts, the SLP supercharger equipped LS3 was making a respectable 520 horsepower. 520 horsepower in a street car is beastly, but in Formula Drift, power levels have skyrocketed in the past few years. With a goal of around 700 wheel horsepower, Chris Jensen dialed in the tune, and the power bumped up 160hp to a super competitive 680 horsepower at the wheels!
Essa has always been a driver who demanded tons of angle from his drift machine, so attention was focused on steering modifications to bring the SLP Camaro into familiar driving territory. After hours of research and fabrication, Essa Autosport successfully customized a Wisefab kit to work with the Camaro chassis.
The SLP Camaro is now capable of achieving 70 degrees of angle at full lock and almost zero ackerman. Essa Autosport is proud to announce that full bolt on kits for the 5th generation Camaro chassis will soon be available! If you are interested in a custom built Wisefab kit for your Camaro, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Power, check. Angle, check. Testing was amazing, and Essa Autosport could not be happier with the setup in the SLP Camaro. “Almost 70 degrees of steering in a Camaro! Steering feel is great, super responsive, good self steer, and almost zero ackerman! Atlanta should be fun!”, says Michael Essa.
Formula Drift Round 2 – Road to the Championship will be held on May 8-9, 2015 at Road Atlanta, Georgia. Stop by the SLP and Roush paddock to check out the cars, and cheer us on!
Stay tuned for more Essa Autosport updates!
Words and photos by David Karey – email@example.com
Established in 1987, SLP has stood for quality performance enhancements for late-model American Muscle cars from the beginning, and it continues this commitment today. SLP’s initial claim to fame says it all: It was the first company in the performance aftermarket to develop and manufacture a 50-state emission-legal performance package — specifically for V8 Camaros and Firebirds. True to its name (“Street Legal Performance”), the vision of SLP’s part program is to not just provide performance, but to do so with the best engineering practices and quality possible, far exceeding the industry standards. Visit http://www.slponline.com
About Formula Drift
Formula Drift is currently in its 12th season and is renowned and recognized as the international leader of drift championships. After having started in the streets of Japan, drifting has evolved to become a worldwide automotive sport which challenges driver skills in vehicle control. Formula Drift provides a platform for professional dirft racers to compete on a national level to claim the coveted Formula Drift champion crown. As the world leader in drift racing, Formula Drift pushes the sport to its extreme and attracts all levels and types of auto enthusiasts. To obtain more information on the calendar of events and tickets, visit www.formuladrift.com.
Wisefab is a company created by drifting enthusiasts who got sick and tired of the fact that there were no drifting parts for BMW. Wisefab started with developing a kit for BMW E30 and E36, which lead to the craziest steering lock of them all on the cars that had no drifting parts prior. The lock itself was not the only goal creating the kits. Wisefab engineer Risto Kõiv spent countless hours trying to create a perfect all-over drifting geometry for the kits. With everybody starting to ask for kits for other cars besides BMW, Wisefab pushed towards creating other kits as well. Visit http://www.wisefab.com/