Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sitting Shotgun: Brad Hettinger

Brad (B-RAD) Hettinger...I first recognized Brad about a year ago when I saw his insane looking 240SX convertible. It was two-tone blue and silver, had an R33 Skyline front end on it, was fully kitted, chicken installed, MASSIVE exhaust, and to top it off... his helmet was covered in bright blue fur. 

From that day on, I always would have to follow his lines when I heard his car run. He then went on to paint the car metallic pink and had a front end change more then once. 

Brad was always tearing up the track from start to finish. I have noticed from the first day, that Brad had something in drifting. He later went to Irwindale Speed way aka the "House of Drift", and picked up his Formula Drift license. All while making it there with donations via PayPal from the support of the drifting community and friends! 

Brad also does work at his shop, Ground Werks Garage. Ground Werks will do it all for you, and Brads car shows it. Brad totally rebuilt the vert from the ground up for 2010. The capability of this shop is phenomenal once you see over the B-Rad ride in person. I went to East Coast Bash this year wanting to get a few words with Brad about him and his shop, this is what came of the short but long interview...

 1K:  How was your weekend at East Coast Bash?

  Brad: It was all right. The car was doing pretty decent to begin with, having a couple little setup issues but other then that it was pretty good. I ended up tapping the wall, ripping the over fender off on the passenger side. Then going into night driving last night I bottomed out the car really hard. Don't know if it had any correlation to do with the motor having some rod knock, its blown up now. I'm not sure whats going on there, wont know till tomorrow when I tear it down. It was an alright weekend ya know? I was hoping for better, but you know at least I got to drive a little bit.

 1K:  How is the new setup/rebuild you've done?

 Brad:   Good! The car has had its bugs definitely. There's been a lot of new stuff I've put on it, things other people haven't done. Stuff like that. Has a 350 (z) trans behind the SR now, so I initially had some issues with that off the bat cuz the gearing is all kinds of different I wasn't used to it, kind of gives you short snappy gears. I wasn't used to having to transition through gears as often. Last year, I pretty much would be in third all the time and just be done with it. This year its a lot of second, third, and fourth gear action goin on.

As far as the power.. I'm making about 50 more horse then I was last year. The v-mount setup made it real responsive. The car in general felt really good. It has tons of power, the biggest problem I'm having is to keep grip. I'm just kinda blowin through tires. The main problems I've been having is the suspension setup lately. The past 3 events I've done have been more suspension setup , tweaks in alignment and all that kind of fun stuff.

 1K: How are things coming along with GroundWerks?

  Brad:  Good! We have a lot of new stuff coming, a lot of stuff were working on... If everything pans out the way were hoping for, we'll have a really cool car for next year. I'm getting rid of the s13..Actually after this weekend I'm not sure whats gonna happen with the S13. I've been entertaining the idea to move into a newer chassis to begin with. I kind of wanted to at the end of last year but, I thought it would be better strategy to stay in this car since I was comfortable with it. Just doing a couple things to it, and a couple things ended up being a lot of things, maybe over built the car a little bit..It seems to work pretty good.

We started doing roll cage work about a month ago, that's going really well. Were really happy with the way that stuff is turning out. Still got the dyno stuff goin on. I've been doing a lot of research and development on the Z trans behind different motors. First thing was the SR, I have people interested in doing it behind the KA now. That's the biggest thing, RB20, SR, and the KA, they have a weak trans. You know, its getting kind of hard to get the Z32 parts to do the Z32 trans. That's why I kind of came up and started doing this. It works out pretty good, I'm happy with it.

Brian Hop's car, the one with the orange Gram Lights...his car has the same trans setup in it, and actually before he hit the wall, he was tearing it up. I've never seen him drive like that before he was doing really good! I was gonna drive his car today to try it out, I wanted to see how much different it felt from mine. We have a little bit different things goin on with our cars and I wanted to see how his felt compared to mine, unfortunately I didn't get to go that route. It made me feel good this morning that I saw him drive.

We always got cool stuff goin on. I'm going to start building a Corolla, probably going to use it more or less as a backup car for a little bit till I figure out whats goin on with my actual car situation. My roommate has a Corolla with a 20 valve in it so I was gonna start puttin that together, were gonna kind of share it, go from there and see what happens.

 1K: What kind of plans do you have for Formula D and competing this year?

Brad:   This year I'm taking it back a couple steps. I put a lot into driving last year, I drove like 25 or 26 events last year? Was kind of hoping Id get a little bit more backing then I had but when I started opening up GroundWerks and doing everything that was going on with GroundWerks, I kind of decided to put a little more time into the business then into racing. That's kind of where I've been sitting.. I'm gonna probably keep everything off with Formula D this year...and extend my license hopefully until 2011.

I'm going to the new chassis, go into Formula D with a brand new car...and be a rookie in a brand new car and see how it goes. Obviously there's the politics involved with all of it so I'm probably not gonna do too good in a brand new car. Hopefully everything still pans out and I do decent you know? Id be happy just to qualify every one really...My biggest thing every day is like when I wake up or when I'm eating or whatever you know I'm just thinkin about stuff, I'm all ways hoping the economy's gonna turn around so that you know..worst case scenario I can have a business that can flourish, help me get through everything else..that's the biggest thing I think about...

1K:  Where do you think drifting is gonna be going in the upcoming years?

Brad:   I think its going good places..there's a lot more company's getting involved, stuff like that. We got events like this (East Coast Bash), where its all grassroots guys out with pro drivers. You have events like Road Atlanta and Formula D Wall like they're big events but as far as media wise and the sport blowing up more? I see an event like East Coast Bash being more influential to people then going to Formula D. As a grassroots driver, you go to Formula D your like, “AW I'm never gonna be at this level” like there's no point in ever being                able to be that. But you got all kinds of drivers here.

You got guys where its the first time ever driven here today, and you got guys that have been here on the road course however many times its been open, which I think is like 20 times people have been able to drive on it..I've driven on it every time its been open, every time there's been an event out on the road course, I've been on it. You've just got a wide variety of drivers here, and you don't really see that when you go to Formula D as much. East Coast Bash and like Club Loose itself, I really see it opening up the whole potential of what drifting can really be.

1K:  How do you feel about the drifting community itself?

Brad:   Were all very like, laid back. I've all ways thought everyone's here to help each other out you know? I have people come up to me all the time asking me to borrow tools and stuff like that. I brought my girlfriend with me, its her first time shes ever come to a drifting event with me that was actually like a BIG event. She watched me yesterday morning, I ran around and I think I helped 3-4 people work on there cars before I even got to get into my car. I rolled my car out the trailer, it sat right there on the ramp and I went around and helped people get there stuff ready to go.

I knew my car was ready, and I did what I had to do. Brian was having trouble with his car, couple little engine electrical issues, took care of that. He ended up braking a shift linkage on his car as well I fixed that mid day for him. Were all here to help each other out, I walked over to Garry Gardella's trailer and was like, “Hey I need to use your tig welder” and he was like, “Alright yeah go ahead!”. Everyone's here to help each other out, to have a good time, have fun, its not like cut throat or anything like that. It has all ways been to me, everyone's here to help each other out.. I've never had somebody like, snob me off about being able to use a tool or something like that. That's how I've all ways viewed it...

Special Thanks: Dan Jenkins Photography 

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