Behind the Wheel with Austin Kregle: Gearing up for ProAM
Editorial Note: This is the first in a series of articles following Austin Kregle through the multi-state Formula Drift sanctioned 2016 Southwest ProAm series hosed by VegasDrift.
[dropcap style=”style1″]I[/dropcap]n 2014 Austin Kregle competed in a round of the Southwest ProAm at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix, Arizona, where he qualified in 18th position out of 47 other drivers. Two years have passed since then and for the first time Austin plans on fully committing to this season and competing in every round of ProAm. Between his last ProAm event in 2014 to present, Austin has slowly been making changes to his 1995 Nissan 240SX to create a more competitive car for the multi-state Formula Drift sanctioned series.
“I specifically got this car for drifting” Austin said of his S14 in Car Street Journal’s March 2014 Ride of the Month feature, “it was the only car I went out to look at and I bought it.” He added that he wanted a 240 that was as stock as possible and this car only had an exhaust.
Since the feature ran, the car now has a full 2F Performance body kit, front bash bar build by 18Fab, and 2F Performance rear over fenders in addition to front over fenders, a full vinyl wrap, ASD Hydro e-brake, a GT3076r turbo upgrade, and the car is tuned by Dyno-comp.
With some ProAm experience, Austin says he feels more confident with his driving skills and with his car, however “there is always that chance of something breaking so I have that in the back of my head.”
Gearing up for the first round on May 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Austin participated in the drift portion of Import Face Off on March 13, at WHP. “Overall I did very well,” Austin said of his performance at IFO, “I got some much needed tandem practice and I’m becoming more confident going tandem with other drivers.”
Several challenges arose as this event was Austins first time using a recently installed hydro e-brake noting that “took a few runs to get used to the new e-brake lever location, e-brake performance, as well as drifting with more grip.” During the event Austin noticed the engine was running hot and took many breaks in between sessions to allow the engine to cool down and had transmission issues halfway through the event.
Austin plans to diagnose the transmission problems he encountered at IFO in addition to “replacing the clutch while the transmission is out since I have noticed it has been slipping more recently. Also I need to figure out why the engine is running hot now.” Austin speculates the high engine temperatures could have been caused from additional heat from his new turbo setup or the head gasket is starting to leak due to the increased boost pressure. “Basically, I am trying to fix all the issues before round one” he said.
“With the high caliber high horse power drift cars being built for ProAm competition now days, I will probably have less power than my competitors that may set me at a disadvantage. However with the new turbo set up and more rear grip I am now much more competitive and previous years.”
Austin told CSJ he has driven at the Vegas track before but not on the layout selected for Round one. “The only driver I know competing, off of the top of my head, is my friend Andrew. I would definitely want to go head to head with him” Austin said.
“I want to qualify and ultimately win round one. Oh, and keep the car out of the concrete walls of the track” he said, adding “most of all, I am here to have fun and enjoy the experience.”