Formula Drift 2020 Rulebook Changes – Update

After my last article about the rule changes, I had a couple of questions. I emailed Ryan Sage at Formula Drift to see how accurate I was on my suppositions. Ryan passed on the information and got back to me with some clarifications. So here’s portions of their responses and, of course, more of my opinions.

Pretty accurately stated:

He is close on a few items and way over thinking others items. 

Bell housings and Transaxles

Trans axle, nothing to do with corvette all about advantages of Transaxle conversionBellhousing is pretty close

I’m still unsure of the advantages of transaxles outside of weight. But this makes sense.

Driver Viewable Camera

Driver viewable camera is a live view, not stopping them from reviewing their cameras later.

I don’t recall the rules stating a live view camera. So I’m still not sure about this one. But the clarification makes things a little more clear. You can use gopros and what not in/on your car, you just can’t be watching them during your run. Who would do/does that?

Data Monitoring

This part got lengthy so I’m going to paraphrase and quote where possible.

Data will be recorded live and not handed over by the team after events. They’ll attach a module to the CAN plug on the A pillar to record data “…similar to SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge recorded via CAN”. My research on this series hasn’t turned up much for their CAN recording modules but they do have a requirement for timing equipment that makes sense. Although they mention that each module will need to be configured per car. It looks like each car will be getting their own module instead of ad-hoc attaching them at grid.

The data will be used for later analysis and not live judging. From the FD standpoint, only 1 car in Pro2 couldn’t meet the CAN requirement easily so this change shouldn’t cause much monetary/time commitment from any driver.

I want to give the data to the teams that don’t have data. Even in a penalty situation, there would not be a reason to release more than what was absolutely required.

The requirement for data monitoring is meant to help drivers but also to give FD data logs to check for cheating later on. They do specifically mention my concern for cheating as difficult to fib the outputs and “we have to start somewhere”.

I still have a ton of questions but I’m sure I could fill an hour or six with just technical talk like this. The answers given have enough clarity that I’m looking forward to how this pans out next season. It’s a good start into better safety and the modern age of automotive electronics.

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Formula Drift 2020 Rulebook Changes

Warning - This is an opinion article. I try not to write first person and try to give balanced opinions. Since many of these rules don't come with reasons, any explanation is supposition on my part and to be taken as such. 

Formula drift is nice enough to publicly give out the rulebook these days. They even highlight changes in red to make skimming it that much easier. Here are some highlights of the current iteration of the 2020 FD rulebook. Because many changes are clerical or for clarity, this article will only be covering the interesting additions or changes.

Trans Bellhousing

B/C bullet points are about transaxles. Formula Drift is likely specifying the rise in popularity of the Corvette platform as a whole. So you can keep it factory, or convert the rear into a classic style differential. The car will still have to adhere to the other rules about mounting points and locations, but it’s odd that the book specifies not allowing conversions to become a transaxle. I’m not sure there would be an advantage of doing a transaxle conversion, outside of weight distribution.

Bullet E covers SFI 6.16.3 for bellhousings. The purpose is to contain the clutch mechanisms in case something should happen. I haven’t seen instances in motorsports recently relating to this that might cause this change in rules. But, it’s all about safety. This doesn’t dictate what type of transmission a vehicle has to run, but this does discourage transmissions where the bellhousing is one piece with the transmission from the factory. BMW ZF transmissions, for instance, don’t have aftermarket support for this style bellhousing. Adapting one shouldn’t be too difficult in theory. For most aftermarket transmissions, these bellhousings don’t seem too expensive.

Drivers Aids

Not much of a technical change here but the explicit banning of in/on car cameras is perplexing. I’d like to know the reason for this. Perhaps rear cameras for viewing the chase driver after a run could give the driver an advantage. Maybe reviewing forward facing video could help decide whether or not to petition. Regardless, this is why FD should always have a running/recording live camera in every driver’s car.

Data Monitoring

Here’s the part that is the most interesting to me and seems to be the source of a lot of debate online. It’s likely a “slippery slope” into Formula Drift starting to implement more strict rules. Personally, I think FD isn’t trying to put too much money into this and will have to catch up eventually.

A – Recording data is now compulsory. Every logger and every ECU will record in its own proprietary format. Even CAN protocols can use varying identifiers for whatever PID. CSV format, excel format, and others means that Formula Drift will not be able to quickly parse through anyone’s logs. Nor does this rule state when the data has to be given to Formula Drift. The most likely scenario is that FD wants to keep the data around in case of a petition or foul play is suspected.

FD cannot intuitively know the non standard PIDs and their associated values. EG: a driver could have a nitrous bottle temperature sensor that reads at PID 010A. Where 255 is 0F and 0 is 150F. By default, this is a fuel pressure PID and it’s reading backwards. FD would just see weird fuel pressure numbers and have no idea what it could mean. The other side of the coin is that CAN systems are not necessarily bound to OBD2 specs and PIDs. Baud rates can be found and connected to it live but the extracted data can be in any format. Some PIDs stretch multiple broadcast messages. Some contain multiple messages in one. Formula Drift cannot know this without a spec sheet from the driver and even then, it would be on the honor system.

B – Standardized CAN connectors. With this connector, Formula Drift can hook up a generic OBD2 style CAN reader to any car at any time. Assuming this is OBD2 spec, the reader can only read live data. This will not be able to automatically download log files as stated in bullet A. During yearly inspection, the CAN system will be tested and a log file will hopefully be taken to use as a comparison for later in the year. Without the logging aspect, this plug can’t really do much. It’s also very simple to build a “translation box” that can doctor the CAN messages between the ECU and the connector. CAN modules can be as small as a dime so hiding one wouldn’t be too difficult. Even aftermarket ECUs can be programmed which PIDs to give out and formulas to apply prior to transmission (Think C to F conversions). At best, this connector will allow Formula Drift to see some live data and record it for analysis later. It cannot be used to decide if someone has a GPS module in their car.

C – Non CAN vehicles will be penalized. This makes sense. The LS platform is CAN by default and the 2JZ will need an aftermarket ECU for FD level power anyway. No modern aftermarket ECU lacks CAN connectivity. I would be surprised if this inconvenienced anyone in the current Pro1 FD field.

D. May be used for judging or technical purposes. Unless FD has a module that plugs into this new connector and wirelessly transmits the data during runs (it won’t), this can’t be used for live judging. This will be for petitions and checking cars for unauthorized aids like traction control (lol), GPS units, or others. Default CAN OBD2 protocols have no useful information for live judging. Maybe the throttle pedal but there isn’t even a standard brake PID. Even then, FD isn’t mandating what PIDs must be available and that they must adhere to the OBD2 standard. 0117 (throttle position) very well could be boost levels instead.

E. Data disclosure. “We won’t give out your data, unless you’re cheating”. Giving other teams your logged data (assuming it’s truthful) could be devastating for a team. So Formula Drift wants to assure drivers they aren’t going to make these logs public. Unless you cheat. Although, I’m willing to bet they would only give out the pertinent data and not the entirety of the log file.

F. The rules may change as seen fit. This seems like Formula Drift are setting up to modify these data logging rules mid season. They likely know everything I said above (I hope) and are deciding on ways to combat this without the need for a standardized NASCAR like ECU setup. For instance, factory vehicles these days have 3 or more CAN systems that don’t necessarily talk to each other outside of a few bridges. What’s stopping a separate traction control module on a separate CAN line that won’t connect to the FD connector?

It will be interesting to see how Formula Drift implements this without stepping on too many toes. Their history tends to be on under regulation rather than over regulation (IMO). Formula Drift, if you read this, call me. I can help 🙂

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The Case for Data

Regardless of the pitfalls of the DOSS system (talked about in this blog’s most recent article), there still is a good use case for data and telemetry information. Knowing if a vehicle was faster on entry or had better proximity with hard data could lead to different results. In some cases, the answer to the question of “did this driver straighten out?” could be made automatically.

To begin to discuss and implement data metrics, two issues have to be solved:

The first issue is cost. NASCAR and F1 have HD quality on board cameras and live data overlays for the viewer while Formula D has, at best, a replay from a streaming drone at low resolution. Technology isn’t cheap and the cost/benefit analysis is murky enough that FD might be averse to investing the money. Since the original implementation of the DOSS system, technology has gotten much better and much cheaper. Theoretically, the hardware required for this type of data should be more accessible.

The second issue is how the data is used. DOSS pre chewed certain numbers and used a proprietary calculation to decide scores. Inherently, for this judged sport, this “kills” the spirit of drifting. Instead of using the numbers to calculate a score, the collected data could be used to inform judging more accurately. Each collected piece of data should be shown to the viewer and to the judges to show hard facts that can then be used to create a score.

Types of Possible Metrics

Proximity

One of the easier possible metrics is proximity. Distance sensors are placed on the same spot on both cars (between the front axles or mid roof line) and the distance between the two sensors are tracked during the run.

Possible metrics are:

  • Average proximity during the entire run
  • Farthest proximity – This can be used to define what is considered “inactive chase”
  • Closest proximity
  • Average proximity per zone

Speed(s)

Formula Drift has, in the past, used a radar gun to judge entry speeds. The reason why it was dropped and why it wasn’t viewable via the live stream isn’t certain. Regardless, it was a simple metric that helped determine outcomes. Modern GPS equipment can update about 10 times per second and can give extremely accurate speed data instead of a radar gun.

The main issue with this is likely removal of subjectivity. The downfall of the DOSS system is its heavy reliance on overall speed. Instead of using this information to populate a predetermined calculation, speed related data can be displayed for the judges and audience. Speed metrics can then be used to render a judgement. The audience has more information to see the judges’ calls, and drives up viewer engagement.

Possible metrics are:

  • Entry speeds
  • Total speed averaged across the whole run (also doable via a stop watch)
  • Average/highest speed through each zone
  • Judgments on decel zones. IE “parking it” when a driver shouldn’t or decel in an accel zone
  • Top speed
  • Average speed per run used to determine if someone is sandbagging and intentionally driving slow during competition

Clipping Point Proximity

Using the same proximity sensors as mentioned above, distance measurements can be done by clipping points and zones. Knowing for certain one driver was closer to a clipping point can help both qualifying and competition/tandem judgments. Because there are more sensors, cones get hit, and there’s likely calibration necessary, this metric may be difficult to implement and keep accurate.

Possible metrics are:

  • Average proximity on an outer zone
  • Distances to inner clips per run
  • General distances to help derive qualifying numbers
  • Visual candy for the audience

Metrics/data in General

These are three, generally cost effective, possibilities to enhance judging and sometimes viewer enjoyment. Many more metrics are possible but unlikely due to cost or complexity of implementation. One of the easier ways to advocate for metrics is to use it for entertainment instead of judging. The more information viewers have, the better their understanding and engagement.

Possible non judgement data for viewers:

  • Tire life
  • Tire temperature
  • Wheel speed(s)
  • Driver radio chatter
  • Live speed/angle/etc overlays
  • Vehicle metrics (engine temp/throttle/braking/etc)
  • In car video replays

Why no angle metrics?

For complexity reasons, drift angle has been purposefully left out of this article. Measurement of slip angle is highly debated around the world and there doesn’t appear to be a single agreed upon way to measure it. Four wheel drifting is still over steer and concepts like ackerman make it impossible to measure angle accurately from the front wheels alone. Without consistent measurement between cars, drift angle still isn’t worth using as judging criteria.

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The case against the DOSS DriftBox

D1GP in Japan uses a system called DOSS (d1gp original scoring system). DOSS is a proprietary implementation of the DriftBox. Keeping in mind that the majority of this blog has been tech based, one would assume that I would love the DriftBox. After seeing its usage in D1GP, the response from drivers, and my own research, I’ve decided that the DriftBox is a half baked attempt that hurts more than it helps.

Subjectivity vs Metrics

Drifting has its roots in subjectivity. Inherently, that gut reaction/impression cannot be taken away. Many fans consider putting solid numbers behind judging to be killing the spirit of the sport. They don’t necessarily need to be mutually exclusive. For example, Formula Drift currently uses decel zones as judging criteria. But without the metrics behind it, there isn’t a final truth behind someone brake checking the car behind them.

DOSS

The DOSS system is a driver’s upper roll cage mounted unit that mounts to the front of a vehicle. According to the spec sheet, it’s no more than a GPS and a 6 axis accelerometer/gyroscope. The GPS module is a 10hz unit that can theoretically do up to 10 samples per second. 10hz is pretty industry standard so the GPS module itself has stood the test of time. The accelerometer also seems pretty industry standard with its accuracy and update rate.

The screen doesn’t look too sexy, but that’s not really that necessary for judging.

Per this Japanese article for the 2019 season, the DOSS system scores by totaling , vehicle top speed, highest angle, maintenance of angle (not wavering), average speed (per section), rate to angle, and rate of change of angle in transitions. This is a pretty big difference in judging criteria in the US. Specifically Formula Drift. The difference is likely due to both the Japanese ideals, and the limitations of the DOSS system.

Breakdown by classic FD judging criteria

Line Judgement

Internet searching for how the DOSS module judges line came up with nothing. Their literature says it scores “per section” but I don’t see specifics on how this works. It’s conjecture, but it seems like sectors/sections are done by a remote computer that live analyzes by GPS coordinates and arbitrary lines drawn on a map. By its own literature, being off line (off course) is human judged. So proximity to inner clips and outer zones are not judged by DOSS.

Angle

The spec sheet specifies an angle calculation but it’s most definitely wrong. Without external sensors and multiple accelerometers (I can’t find any literature pointing towards this), angle must be judged by the main unit on the front of the vehicle. The distance between the front axis of rotation (between the front wheels) and the unit itself will yield different angle measurements depending on the distance between those two points. These will differ greatly between car models.

Regardless of that, there is no intuitive way for the module to be able to tell if the vehicle is understeering or oversteering. With all my research of angle measurements, no one system is foolproof and each has their own pros and cons. The DOSS system in particular, uses an overly simplified system that can yield very incorrect information.

Speed

It’s a GPS. That’s what it does. Speed is the only measurement that is accurate. The 10hz refresh rate does leave something to be desired. But 10 measurements per second is more than enough for basic judging. This is also why the main complaint about the DOSS system is that it heavily favors speed. It’s the only good measurement possible.

Bringing it all together

The total judgement score of the DOSS system is heavily weighted towards speeds and acceleration. Assuming someone attempts to properly calibrate each unit for angle on each car and the flawed angle calculation at least being consistent between vehicles, the angle calculations are mainly used for “highest angle achieved”. The rest of the angle calculations are rate to angle and consistency of angle. These calculations all favor the fastest driver and not the highest angled driver or the most accurate driver.

Many drivers have complained that you “drive to what the box wants”. And that’s pretty accurate. The DOSS system was setup to use the data given to find a measurement that it could produce. The criteria given by the DriftBox is very limiting and judges to a very skewed ideal of what drifting is.

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Bash Bars and You

As usual, this article is written from my point of view and is limited to my current level of knowledge. Fight me in the comments.

Main Purpose

The main purpose of a “Bash Bar” is to provide a replaceable, bolt on crush area for the inevitability of front/rear contact between cars. The aim of this is to absorb the impact on a part that can be quickly replaced, instead of tweaking the actual body of the car. In the event of an impact, a new bash bar can simply be bolted on or the old one can be repaired if needed.

Secondary Purposes

Alternatively, bash bars have several other benefits. Increased air flow (theoretically), added jack points to the car, lowered weight, custom mounting brackets for body panels/lights, and added space in/around the bumper area.

Hobbyist vs Pro Bash Bar

Most general drifters replace the front bumper with a bash bar that mounts to the stock bumper. Many pro-am drivers and all pro drivers adhere to their rule books to cut off as much of the frame rail as possible to add a larger crash area. This gives more engine bay space and more area to crumple without transferring the impact to the main chassis. Many pro teams run 2 separate crash supports. One for the bumper, and one to replace the cut off frame rails. Doing this allows easier replacement and more crush area.

http://www.mustangandfords.com/news/see-what-vaughn-gittin-jr-s-rtr-shop-has-been-up-to-before-this-weekends-formula-drift/photo-74.html

Design Considerations

Most basic bash bars are a single bar that goes in place of the OEM bumper. The design above has the potential to puncture the tire in the event of an impact. A remedy to this would be to curve in the end piece so that the tire would hit a rounded edge of the bar instead of the corner.

Frequently, drift cars run a dual bar system. Dual bar systems are useful for oil pan and frame rail protection and a rigid mounting point for bumpers. The major down side is the added weight and complexity.

Alternate thoughts

Years ago, when it was allowed, JR ran an aluminum bash bar on the front with a secondary steel frame behind it. While aluminum is more expensive, the weight savings was likely worth the effort. Formula Drift has since changed the rules so now all bash bars must be magnetic.

http://www.speedhunters.com/2011/02/car_builder_gt_gt_hanging_out_at_hot_line/

Another outlawed tactic was to use coilovers with weak springs to absorb the impact but spring back out to preserve the physical chassis body. While it added weight, it lowered the amount of body work and repair needed.

The Absurd?

http://www.speedhunters.com/2008/11/sema_part1/

Samuel Hubinette for 2009 attempted to roll out a rollerblade wheel design to glide along walls. It didn’t make it into practice and Formula Drift may have outlawed this before its debut.

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Japanese Translation: Drift Tengoku – Zeknova RS606 and Super Sport RS Review

Here is another Japanese translation, mainly for my education. If you have requests, feel free to comment or email me to let me know. Parenthesis generally denote my notes or comments.

Title: Drift tire commentary. Test & Check

Red banner and Subtitle: Zenkova’s 2 types. How will this footwear stack up?

Article body (top left onto next page): Within the past several years’ tires, Zeknova stands out. This company’s tires are very useful for a main tire that can be used for competitions or regular driving. 2019 D1GP driver Daigo SAito is driving his Fat Five A90 supra using their RS606 tire. Even with this new car and development, the car has placed second and 4th in previous standings. The RS606 has much potential to go beyond this level. Formula Drift Japan Masadai (sp?) managed pretty well after a typhoon wet the track. The RS606 is a good high level/high grip tire while the Super Sport has a greater cost per lap ratio. There’s no doubt that Zeknova will be a tire to watch out for in the future.

Red Title Super Sport RS: Strongest tire for fun driving or competitions

Super Sport Subtext: Decent value to grip ratio. Good life for the cost per tire for drift practice. This tire also lasts very well for drift competitions. Tread wear was even across the tire sizes at 240.

Red Title RS606: Comp winning high grip tire.

RS606 Subtext: High speed high grip tire that can be used for competitions. This tire also has good tread to make it through water but also has good dry grip. Tread wear is 140/160/200/240 across the 4 subtypes. Even with full air, the large size responds very well.

Text Bubble: Pick a tire size based on your power level! The Super Sport can be used for comps or fun!

Caption: The RS606 is used by pro drivers for it’s high grip in D1 and FD. The Super Sport RS was picked by D1 judged for use in the series (note to self, clarify this). This tire has placed 6th in the top 16 frequently.

*For text body see 2 panels above

Green/White Text: New Drift Tengoku tire test mule!

Body: Wataru Mashisan (sp?) the school of drift champ and FD Japan driver and this year’s tournament champion. This S15 has been his general test car and competition car for a while. It is used to test both competition and general drift tires.

Black Box Text: Testing Rules – Tire pressure starts at 2.5kg/cm2 (~35psi) to get a feel for the car. On the second heat, pressure is lowered to 1.2kb/cm2 (~17psi) to test grip. The test car is the “MassBear” (????) S14 with a TD06-20G good for 400ps (395hp). Front tires are a Valino Pergea 08R with 235/40/18. Testing is done at Nikko about 1pm at 56.6 degrees (130F) road temp. This testing effected not only the tires, but the car and driver.

RS606 Heat 1 (top left): This tire was tested at great speeds. Even with the air so high, the side might not have done well (side bite?). Flooring it causes a feeling of side traction loss. It’s hard to stop the rear once it’s out so less air is likely better.

RS606 Heat 2: Just as we though, lowering the tire pressures gave more side grip. This felt much better. Even with 400ps, there still is some grip left in the tires. Although, these tires have a shorter life than the Super Sport RS tires. Even with this, it is still a very usable tire.

Super Sport Heat 1: This is way too much air for this tire. After 5 laps they were hard to catch and maintain in a drift. The overall balance really isn’t that good at this pressure when it comes to side grip. There’s still some ability left in the tire.

Super Sport Heat 2: This completely changed the tire but also eats through the tire faster. With partial acceleration, this helps this tire become a pro level tire [D1 light series]. This has a good amount of grip left in the tires.

Bottom Right Pic: Soukoukai tire – These are the tires after our 2 heats. Corners 1-6 and about 5 laps per heat overall.

Red Middle Text: The RS is an FD/D1 capable car while the Super Sport is great for practice and just having fun. Both are very good tires!

Under Left Graphic: Even with the high road temps, the RS606 would be a great battling tire for comps. In our second heat, the RS606 seemed like a very capable dry tire that wears very evenly.

The RS Super sport was pretty good even with high pressures and had very good life in them. At a soukoukai, these could go for a full day on 2 sets. With about 300ps, these would be a great cost per tire. I will be using these as my practice tire on my silvia.

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Japanese Translation: Drift Tengoku – CD009/Z33 Transmission

Hopefully this is the first in a weekly series where I do my best to translate articles in Japanese to English. This is mainly for my education. If you have requests, feel free to comment or email me to let me know. Parenthesis generally denote my notes or comments. This article was tough to translate so I’m likely not 100% accurate or paraphrase.

Thank you to Pinku Style for sponsoring this series!

Red Title: Finally TourerV (wassat?) swap kit!

Black Title: SR/RB/JZ Z33 transmission era presentation.

Bold Text: This readily domestically available transmission from (for?) the Tourer V can handle over 500 hp now has a drop in kit. The swap kit for the Z33 transmission to the SR/RB/JZ “big 3” is finally here.

Article on the left: Attacking the clutch. With 1 year of development by Miyaseimitsu for the SR and RB, this swap kit was precision machined. Taking into consideration the drive shaft differences, this north Kantou shop is one of the most trusted in the area.

That Miyaseimitsu company worked hard over that 1 year on more than 10 swaps for this transmission. Aiming for more than just strength and popularity. (next page) Anyone who has tried this 6 speed swap will rave about the big difference in shift feeling.

Picture caption: After swapping my turbo and 6 speed, I was surprised at the difference!

Picture story: After blowing his Chaser’s 5 speed, Satokun asked Wakamatsusan to help swap this transmission in over the summer. With a TD06-25G turbo, good for 450 horsepower, this new transmission helped to get and stay in the power band. And using the stock cross member (??) made him feel much better about the swap. Changing gears makes you just want to hop in and drive. With drifting, the rpms don’t drop the engine out of boost so this increases confidence.

With the suggested 4.1 diff ratio, Nikko circuit , Honshu, and Ebisu south course are doable, problem free. With the 5 speed, it was a 2 to 3 shift. Now with the 6 speed, it’s a 3 to 4 shift. The linear up and down shifting makes it easier to not miss a gear. The shortness of the gear selector took a bit to get used to but it wasn’t long.

Picture caption top: The age of the 6 speed is here! By amigo (why does it say amigo?) Wakamatsusan

Picture caption left: We have a full menu of drop in kits! By Miyaseimitsu Iwasakusan (I think that’s his name)

Text: Amigo Wakamatsusan swapped an R34 trans into his 180sx [SR20XGTRS turbo for 400hp] practice car. “For competitions, you’d want to swap out several final drives but in reality that isn’t often possible. With the 6 speed and a 4.3 diff ratio, most of Kantou’s courses are doable. Nikko, Honshu, Mobara, Ebisu south, and Link are all no problem. Maze might also be doable.” says Wakamatsusan.

This time, Miyaseimitsu set its sights on the 1JZ to swap the TourerV into. Because the manufacturers are the same for the RB/SR, up until now, the drive shaft splines and clutch all matched up. Matching the transmission up to a 1JZ has many more hurdles.

With that Miyaseimitsu looked at an ORC product to help with the pilot bearing in the crankshaft. ORC also provided a proper clutch setup to match the splines of the 6 speed transmission. (No idea what ORC is)

It seems like the JZA80 supra’s getrag transmission is no longer receiving new product support (IE no longer being produced). On the other hand, the Z33 transmission is available for $2,000 and can take more power than the R154 transmission. Miyaseimitsu’s swap kit is $3,000, the dual clutch kit can be found for $600, and a used drive shaft can be found for $100. The grand total for the swap can be about $7,000.

In comparison to the R154, this gives better rear ratio options and a worry free 6 speed transmission. For anyone thinking of a getrag swap, this would be worth thinking about instead.

Top Stats: transmission gear ratios

Bottom stats: Transmission new/used prices (new top, used bottom).

Sidebar Under Trans: Z33/R34 trans. For Silvia/skyline TourerV swaps, in comparison, the R154 has a larger and heavier case. Even the gears are wider apart. Miyaseimitsu says this trans can handle up to 800hp. You can still get them new too. Although be weary of used transmissions having gear (shifting?) issues. Although, for S13s/S14s will need separate speed sensor inputs for the speedometer.

Bottom Graphic: DIY product for swapping this transmission trouble free. Price of trans swap kit, $3,000. Contents: trans case, bell housing. Core swap available. Drive shaft (core swap available). Bell housing adapter. Trans cross member. Shift linkage. Pilot bearing. *Look for the stamp on your JZ engine (no idea what this means).

Bottom Left Graphic: Specialty for the JZ trans swap. Depending on the stamp or type of car, a different shifter cage is necessary. This comes with the $3,000 kit and makes things very simple to swap in.

1 JZ’s clutch cover (bell housing) as is! Different manufacturers transmissions line up with a custom pilot bearing. ORC’s clutch and flywheel match with the transmission’s splines and input shaft. This allows for a trouble free swap.

2 Attach it with an adapter! With the R154’s bellhousing and slave cylinder, there’s no need to swap anything else out. Simply cut the bell housing off the new transmission and use the supplied adapter Miyaseimitsu supplies for an easy swap.

3 It even comes with a trans brace! Since you can’t use the Z33’s transmission mount, this kit comes with a custom brace. The brace also has a provision for exhaust hangers.

4 First class drive shaft! With a different length transmission, a custom drive shaft is necessary. (No idea on the second sentence. Single piece drive shaft maybe?)

5 The TourerV’s drive tunnel is roomier than the Silvia’s but this kit still keeps the transmission above the exhaust.

4.1 Final Drive. With the displacement, torque, and rev limit, the silvia’s wide ranged 4.10 differential ratio is likely best. These were tested at Nikko, Ebisu south with third and 4th gears. Honshu was perfectly in 3rd gear.

Fitting the shifter requires a little trimming on the front drive tunnel. Regardless, the shifter sits roughly in the same spot as factory. Some massaging of the drive tunnel is still needed to fit properly.

1/2 Fixing the Release Bearing. Miyaseimitsu’s silvia kit strives to maintain the factory clutch feel and release bearing. This means that adapters aren’t necessary and everything bolts on without issue. Even the center (drive shaft?) remains stock

3 The TourerV specific transmission bracket can be used. It even has a hanger for the exhaust.

4 Trans tunnel is thinner than(in?) the TourerV. The body’s trans tunnel is narrower but it can be hammered in without the need to cut. Different engine and trans mounts might cause issues with the transmission height so be careful when doing this swap.

5 The R34 transmission is pretty big so its hard to fit and not hang out below the car’s body. This setup has been tested at Ebisu south’s “jump”

For Kantou drifting, 4.3 final gear is best! [Nikkou, Honshu, Mobara, Ebisu south, Link, and Maze are workable but Meihan probably isn’t doable.] Say wakamatsusan. If you wanted to complete up to the hairpin, you might need up to a 4.9.

The shifter hole needs no modifications and the shifter lines up perfectly.

Right side: New R34 trans ~$2,000
Z33 drive shaft and stock SR bellhousing $300
Miyaseimitsu kit $3,000
Labor ~$300
Total ~$6,100
Be careful of used parts. Make sure to specify and ensure your parts are from/for the right cars before ordering. This kit may also be used for the RB engine in the skyline (??)

Bottom graphic: Shifter location

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How CAN Bus works

This article will go into the very basics of how CAN Bus works in the automotive world. Things like transmission arbitration and bits/bytes are beyond the scope of what’s necessary for a basic understanding CAN Bus systems. There’s also a TON of other uses for Controller Area Network (CAN) systems, but this is an automotive blog (among other things).

The Old Way

Older analog technology required a physical wire between every sensor and every recipient. The coolant sensor from the engine went to the ECU and the ECU had a separate output to read the temps to the cluster panel. Splitting a sensor between multiple outputs wasn’t easily possible (EG tapping the stock coolant sensor to run an aftermarket gauge). Every new electronic sensor/gauge/output/input had to have a single wire or more linked from that module to its destination. Each new element added complexity and weight.

Modern CAN Bus

Modern day CAN Bus systems use 2 wires to communicate between modules on a “bus”. A bus is a system of modules all joined together using interconnected wiring. In the example above, there are 2 buses. One for the light modules and another for the engine and stability control system. Modern cars can have several buses for various sub systems. For example, the lighting module doesn’t need to know what the engine’s RPM is so there isn’t a need to run the extra wiring. A simple real world example of a bus system would be a computer’s USB (Universal Serial Bus) hub. Many devices can be connected to a computer through a single cable.

Why Use a Bus?

As cars get more complicated and filled with electronics, a CAN Bus type solution is necessary to keep cost/weight/failure points/etc to a minimum. Less wiring inside of a car can only be a good thing. For example, a car could have CAN Bus modules in each seat to tell if they are buckled, tensioned properly, occupied, reclined, and can be told to turn on the seat heaters/coolers, all with 2 wires.

Why Should I Care?

Because we can hack it! Why buy expensive aftermarket gauges when an android tablet can read out all of the engine’s vitals? CAN Bus information can also be used to diagnose issues beyond normal OBD2 codes that the factory didn’t expose. There are even tools to push commands to CAN Bus modules. Right now this type of hacking seems to be in its infancy, but in the future, it’s very possible to reverse engineer entire CAN Bus systems easily and manipulate any module or even add/remove them. For example, CAN hacking could be used to interface motor swaps with the factory cluster and body buses, eliminating the need to perform major rewiring jobs.

Much like the swap from carbs to EFI, CAN Bus systems are now prevalent in every current generation car. As a tuner or tinkerer of cars, it is quickly becoming a necessity to learn to use these systems and understand how they work. At the very least, they are useful for diagnostics. At its best, it is a new opportunity for tuning and enhancing vehicles far beyond what was possible in the past.

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The 4 Levels of Drift Driving

As usual this is my personal opinion based on over 10 years of drifting and teaching various people with various setups. This article assumes the vehicle is reasonably well setup (locking diff, not blown shocks, properly sized/pressurized tires, decent alignment, etc). With that baseline, a driver should be able to move through these levels at varying speeds. Although, the order in which the inner milestones are accomplished can vary greatly.

Level 1(子): Donuts and Figure 8s

The basics of drifting is learning to start and maintain oversteer. The progression generally starts with learning how to break traction, then maintain the loss of traction, and finally how to control/modulate it.

The progression is generally:

  1. Full lock steering wheel (from a stand still) donuts while holding the wheel at lock
    1. Learning to modulate throttle to keep it going
  2. Full lock donuts (from a stand still) and then modulating steering to tighten and loosen the donut radius
    1. Learning steering inputs
  3. Donut with a running start (clutch kick or ebrake)
    1. Learning initiations
    2. Learning steering on initiation
  4. Figure 8s
    1. Learning weight transfer from side to side
    2. Learning steering in transition

Level 2(小): Linking Corners

Building upon the general concepts, the next steps are to gain new skills and polish what has already been learned.

These include (but are not limited to):

  • General initiations
    • Hand brake, power over, clutch kick, etc
  • Increasing radius corners
    • Line work
    • Hand brake extensions
    • Multiple clutch kicks (or more power)
  • Decreasing radius corners
    • Braking
    • Hand brake pull
    • Off throttle
  • Banks and other cambered corners
    • Left foot braking
    • Multiple hand brake pulls
    • Lots of techniques
  • Straights
    • Manji
    • Hand brake work
    • Multiple clutch kicks
  • Transitions between corners in general
    • Steering technique mid transition
    • Throttle inputs for various situations in transition

Level 3(中): Linking Courses

Once the technique tool bag is full, using all of them to reliably complete an entire course is the next goal. This level is mainly polishing Level 2 skills to the point where they can be reliably performed in succession with minimal corrections. Line work generally isn’t polished. The pinnacle of this is repeatably completing the course with no spins and no straightening.

Level 4(大): Tandem/Competitions

After courses can be linked reliably, the next step is to minimize errors and maximize speed/line/angle throughout the course. Competency can be attained by driving with other drivers and mimicking their techniques and lines. Also by attending competitions.

  • Line
    • In competition. Judges will designate the preferred line
  • Speed
    • The ability to complete the course quickly or catch up to another driver
    • “running away” from the following driver
  • Angle
    • Maximize angle without necessarily sacrificing speed
  • Proximity
    • Ability to get close to the lead driver without hitting them
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Drift Tandem Hand Signals and Etiquette

When a driver finally steps up to tandem driving, it’s very intimidating. Learning how to lead and follow has much higher risks than regular solo runs. As a result, an introduction to the prestigious club of tandem drivers can ease the transition. Here is a few of the generally unwritten rules of tandem driving. (also see: Lone Star Drift’s Video for most of these rules in video format).

When two drivers meet up in a tandem line, the second driver generally holds up 2 fingers. This denotes a request to tandem with the two cars:


2?

From there, the other driver will give a thumbs up or down. If it’s a thumbs up, the driver will then point at themselves then hold up a 1 or a 2. 1 meaning they lead, 2 meaning they will follow. From there, the first driver will thumbs up or down.

This interaction confirms how many drivers and who will be in what position. The drivers will then hold up the 2 fingers to tell the starting line corner worker that they are going to tandem. The run then proceeds normally.

Multi Car Tandems

When a track allows multi car tandems, things get a bit more difficult. A third driver can drive up next to the first two drivers and hold up three fingers.

Can I be third?

The drivers will then point to themselves or others and hold up fingers for which position each person will be in and confirm/change how many drivers are in the group. Again, they will communicate this to the starting line corner worker. Disagreement (EG: no, we are just gonna go two) is done with a neck side to side hand gesture:

Nah man

The corner worker will then hold up the number of drivers in that run. This conveys to the drivers how many people will be in the run and allow disagreement if necessary. This can continue for however many drivers there are.

Drift Nirvana Specific

Shenandoah bridge course and Jefferson south course have long and short courses. Asking the other driver which they prefer is done by a short or long gesture with hands to denote short or long respectively

General Etiquette

  • Unless there’s a reason, rotate who leads and follows
  • As a lead(ing) car, when spinning out or having issues, try to get out of the way (off course if necessary). Preferably on the inside of the corner
  • When spinning, if getting off course or out of the way isn’t possible, stay still so that other cars can predictably get around
  • Passing is generally frowned upon
  • The corner worker has the final say in how many drivers are in a tandem group
  • Every driver is responsible for their own car and their own damage
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