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FD Irwindale – “Sweep the Leg”

FD Irwindale….awesome event, here are some pictures so you get the idea. I blew a transmission in Thursday practice but still managed to make the show for Saturday. Thanks Dave and Ben for the transmission help. Crazy time, lotsa fun.

Who says Kendas don’t smoke?

The second to last furthest pit area away from everything. Me and Nikolay had to share the pit space with a boat, pretty sweet really.

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Junebergh and I. Check out my arm, weird huh? I just cant take a picture with a girl normally, geez.

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Fill’er up dude!!

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I just like these.

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Kenda tires and smoke.

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Top 32 with Nashida, coming off the bank.

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Transition coming up.

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Nashida blazed me off the start line despite being perfectly even during practice….I got my leg swiped and I lose Top32.

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Dennis-san will be back next year WITHOUT all the mistakes. More to come on that…maybe.

Had a great time.

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Susan my love, thanks for all your hard work for this event. Sorry to let you down by losing. xoxo

Sams Auto Land

Will Kramer – Thanks for painting the car.

Ben Houin – Also, thanks for the tranny swap help bro. I hope your stay in LA was fun.

Dave Epifano – Thanks for swapping the transmission so fast.

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Byron Hill

Alexander Grant vinyl help

Geoff J-wang Stoneback ITS ALL YOUR FAULT!!!!

Mark Lenardon Video stuffs

Sean Smithson missed you buddy, thumbs down you couldn’t make it.

Eugene Chou, HE’S MY BEST FRIEND

Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week – Sept 17 – 25th

Big black dogs. FIV+ cats. Senior pets. Special-needs animals.  Many factors can make a pet seem “less adoptable.” To promote these unusual (or, in some cases, too common) animals, Petfinder has designated Sept. 17-25, 2011, as “Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week.”

Click the picture below for more information and be sure to check out the gallery!!!

 

Las Vegas, NV – Formula Drift Round 6 HOT HOT HOT!!!!!!

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Las Vegas – Round 6 of Formula Drift

It was so dang hot, 110 degrees F in the heat of the day. I brought a portable AC unit to the track, but it was so hot, it overheated immediately and shut off. I rigged something up and it worked fine the rest of the weekend. Whew, dodged that bullet. We installed some HID lights from a pillaged Hyundai EQUUS headlight.

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Thursday practice was challenging. The first issue I had was the car stalling in the first turn. I would initiate for the big left-hander, ebrake like crazy and then back on the throttle and there was nothing there. After a few rounds of checking stuff out, I raised the idle with the throttle body screw and it never happened again. Second issue was the power steering. I changed the pump before this event because the other one was dying.

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These things when they heat up have a tendency to spill fluid out of the reservoir and onto a hot manifold, sort of self-leveling. This was no different because it looked as if my car was on fire at times. We removed a ton of fluid and off I went. I only got a solid hour or so of practice.

Friday was a great day. It was hot, AGAIN, but I learned a few things. The real key to this course to me is the 45 degree kink as you approach the initiation point. In practice, I could not go fast through this point and it really screwed up my run into the entry. I made some dampening adjustments at the advice of a good friend and mentor of sorts. The car was 100% better in the kink. To be honest, I think I could have run full throttle through the kink, but I never had the guts. In hindsight, I wish I had tried.

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So here is where the event got weird. In the drivers’ meeting, there were 3 things that were questionable.

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First, the judges said to be sideways no later than the first cone at the initiation point outer clip. Second, the judges wanted us to ride the outer line into the second outer clip. Third, they were very clear about how important the second out clip was and how you should sacrifice some angle to get out there. OK, pretty clear and easy, right. Due to my lack of speed into the entry, I had to pull some angle out to get to the second outer clip. I ran this line for each qualifying run and it yielded a somewhat low score. There were guys that would do a big entry, fall way inside, miss most of the clipping points and then get a great qualifying score. At the time, we should have changed our qualifying strategy and only worried about doing a big initiation.

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But it was too late, I qualified 26th and was pared with Dai, the current points leader. That’s fine because last year the car sucked so badly I didn’t even qualify.

So, I watched Dai all night in practice and all day the next day before top 32 tandem. I had a strategy of sorts. I got up to the stage for top 32, ready to take on the points leader, and found out I was going against Mohan instead. Well that’s great; I didn’t watch Mohan at all. What the heck happened? Apparently, FD judges didn’t get the speeds right and changed the bracket around a bit. Whatever, I ran Mohan in Long Beach, so I knew what to expect.

Tandem was good. Following, I got pulled at the kink so there was a deficient to overcome right away. I got some of it back at the second outer clip, but then lost it in the infield. My leading run was good I felt, good angle in the entry and pretty smooth. Again, the infield killed me as Mohan was on my butt. So I lost. Awesome weekend though.

Also, a big thanks to Eric from Kenda for coming out to the event. It was great to hangout this weekend and watch some drifting.

Me following

Me leading

Mark Lenardon also did some photo shooting of the car. He does great work for sure.

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Thanks Sponsors

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Susan – My girlfriend and spotter on this trip…remember to push the correct button on the headset baby, xoxo Also, nice work winning all that dough this weekend.

Sams Auto Land

Will Kramer – Thanks for painting the car.

Dave Epifano – Thanks for coming out and helping. YOU ARE THE MAN!!!!

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Byron Hill

Alexander Grant vinyl help

Geoff J-wang Stoneback ITS ALL YOUR FAULT!!!!

Mark Lenardon Video stuffs

Sean Smithson missed you buddy, thumbs down you couldn’t make it.

Eugene Chou, HE’S MY BEST FRIEND

Seattle, WA – Round 4 of Formula Drift

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Seattle, WA – Evergreen Raceway was the scene for Round 5 of Formula Drift. To start with, I wasn’t too excited to come to the track because last year I found it pretty difficult and ended up not qualifying.

It was a pretty fun 21 hour drive up to Seattle. This time I had my girlfriend with me so she could help out with some of the towing. I forgot to bring a jacket so I was freezing. It’s a bad habit of mine to dress according to where I am and not where I am going. About 4 hours out, Susan took over at the wheel so I could get some sleep. I awoke to her screaming that the truck wouldn’t go…..I snap up and listen for a driveshaft or wheels flying off, but I didn’t hear a thing. I look over at the fuel gauge and the gas light is on and the needle is buried in the red. We dodge the big rigs and get onto the shoulder. Luckily, the 115 gallon fuel tank was full, so we flipped the pump on for a few minutes. No harm, no foul…..we had a good laugh and we’re on our way.
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Thursday practice was interesting. It rained for most of the day so they cancelled practice. But somehow, it cleared up later in the day so practice was back on….but only for an hour or so. I got some runs in and felt pretty good about it. The challenge with this track is getting off the bank at the right time, with the right speed and angle.
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I qualified really crappy because apparently I don’t do well under pressure anymore….this is news to me. I ended up 31 out of 32 and was paired up with JTP, the leader in the series.
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I knew he was fast, not only because he said so in the drivers meeting, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes. That car is a rocket ship. But I had a strategy and that was to jump the start and get to the first corner at the same time. I did just that. Then he straightened in front of me on the bank and I practically ripped the ebrake out of my car staying sideways behind him…but I did it!!!
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I couldn’t believe he made a mistake like that. I knew my lead run had to be perfect and it was. I got the win!!! Apparently, his clutch had went out and that’s why he wasn’t driving well. Whatever, I’ll take it!

JTP Leading – A video for you guys to see. The camera shakes a bit, but its all I have.

Me Leading

I was happy.
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So I got to participate in the top 16 opening ceremonies and I chose the perfect umbrella girl: Joey Redmond from Wrecked Magazine.
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Top 16, I was up against Forsberg. I took off from the start and he was really lagging behind. I think I took off too soon. I get in behind him, but the damage is done. I’m a little low on the bank by a few feet, so when we come off the bank, I shoot behind him and end up right in his smoke trail. Man, it was thick and I couldn’t see anything, so I bailed. Hindsight: I should’ve stayed in it.
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lost in the smoke.
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Chris Leading.

Me Leading Chris

ahh, the life of a driver….jk. Good to see you again Kaylee
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On a side note:
I have found some speed lately and its pretty cool. I learned that my car is getting fast and I may not need to jump the starts so much anymore ;)

Thanks Sponsors
KONIG WHEELS (2)

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Susan – My girlfriend and co-pilot on this trip
Sams Auto Land
Will Kramer – Thanks for painting the car.
Dave Epifano – Thanks for coming out and helping. You found loose ball joints man, NICE WORK!!!
Byron Hill
Alexander Grant vinyl help
Geoff J-wang Stoneback ITS ALL YOUR FAULT!!!!
Mark Lenardon Video stuffs
Sean Smithson missed you buddy, thumbs down you couldn’t make it.
Eugene Chou, HE’S MY BEST FRIEND

The Transmission Debacle – Big Thanks to Jonathan Strack

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Atlanta, GA – When we started planning for the 2011 Formula Drift season I had a long list of things to do. I put them in categories called MUST DO, WANT TO DO, IF THERE IS TIME TO DO. There was absolutely one thing that was on the MUST DO list when it came to the truck and that was to check the ATF+4 oil in the manual G56 transmission. The transmission had a small leak, so I knew it would be low and towing 15k pounds from Philly to Long Beach on a transmission that wasn’t full of fluid would be a BAAAAD idea…….and I was right. Unfortunately I was not in the Philly area to do this particular job so I had to rely on others to do it…in this partnership, it was decided we would use my truck to tow 2 cars across the country for Formula Drift. Long story short, the transmission fluid was never checked and in New Mexico, it started to self-destruct. How come we never have enough time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over? Lesson learned.

I get the truck to Atlanta and Eugene took on the job of getting it repaired. From what I understand, the truck only had 5th gear. So if you can imagine starting off in 5th gear towing 15k pounds….yeah, the clutch got wasted.
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Jonathan Strack is a good buddy of mine that likes to help his friends. He runs Strack, Inc, out of Fairburn, GA. He has always been very supportive of my drifting and has been one of my largest sponsors throughout the years. He has been known to go to extraordinary lengths for his friends. This moment was no exception. Eugene got the truck over to his work and he got started right away. Tons of work got done on the truck.

This is what happens when fluid gets low.
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and broken gears
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rebuilt driveshaft
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Jon really pulled through for me on this transmission repair. He did the transmission, a custom clutch, rebuilt driveshaft, new side mirror, new AC blend door and full AC service and recharge as well as all the fluids changed. He even filled the main and aux fuel tanks….not cheap. I mean, when he saw something the truck needed, he just did it. Now that’s a true friend. I can’t thank Jon enough for all his help. Oh yeah, and Eugene too. But Eugene is keeping an imaginary tab, so he is tacking more and more onto my bill, so I think I’m up to 75,000 dollars now or so….the bill keeps adding up….to the moon. But he will never see a dime of it…hahah! He’s my best friend and like a brother to me, only better.

Thank god for good friends like Jon and Eugene; people that do what they say and say what they mean. BFFs 4-ever!
strack inc on truck
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Round 3. West Palm Beach – Stayin’ Outta of Florida

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West Palm Beach, Fl – Well, this event was interesting. As you guys may or may not know, the track configuration was revealed before the event. After EOS and Pfeiffer hit the wall, spraying debris into the crowd, the course was changed to a more suitable layout. It was a Road Atlanta entry and the course lasted about 15 seconds in total. I thought it was pretty fun.

During practice, I was doing pretty happy with my runs. I would go in deep and ebrake. Before you get to the clip you’re back on the throttle to blast past the first clip. You pitch it left and stab the brakes to transition it hard AND to slow the car down for the right turn. Drift it out to the outer zone at full lock and full throttle in and out of the course. Thursday I was getting it pretty good.

I was excited about qualifying on Friday because I was feeling good. I got to the track and setup. I didn’t make any changes to the car because it was good Thursday night. During Friday practice the car was a little shaky but I didn’t have a spotter to help me get back on track with my runs. I get to qualifying and royally screw it up. I scored a 55 on my first run and 41 on the second. Missed the cut by one, was 33rd. Oh well, I’m getting communications equipment and a spotter. This Mickey Mouse game is over, its getting real now. But I cannot speak for Sean, he loves this stuff.
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I can’t wait for Wall, NJ. See you guys there.
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Thanks Sponsors
KONIG WHEELS (2)

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Brad @ groundwerks Garage
Driftworks
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Byron Hill
Alexander Grant vinyl help
Mark Lenardon For the help, you know.
Sean Smithson You too Sean, xoxo
Eugene Chou, HE’S MY BEST FRIEND
and my girlfriend Susan

XDC Orlando -UGGG!!!

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Orlando, Fl – Beautiful sunny Florida was the setting for Round x of XDC. Well, actually it wasn’t sunny at all. In fact it was raining so hard at one point I think my car completely filled with water.
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I changed some suspension setting based off of FD RoadA tire wear. It seemed to work pretty well.
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XDC was pretty fun because it’s a lot of amateur and local guys. The only downside to this event was the wall that many many drivers seemed to find during practice, qualifying, and practice again and competition. My good buddy Geoff put his car into the wall during his first run. He came in hot and backed her up and in destroying the rear of the car. Sucks.

We went out in the evenings and it was a blast hanging with all the guys. The one single thing I liked best about the XDC event was the lack of pressure of FD competition. Its just a bunch of chill dudes at a drift event, hanging out and having fun. I gotta say, it kinda reminded me of the good ol’days except with a new dance called the Bernie, remember weekend at bernies, well now you can guess what the dance is like. Video time

Saturday was a mess, it rained like crazy and practice was finished early. On Saturday, I qualified 11th.
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Not bad for staying out really late the night before AND the night before that. I was so tired on Sunday that I slept through one of the drivers meetings, and I fell asleep in my car in the staging lane. I do not recommend staying out that late before an event. It adversely effects your driving.
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My first tandem was with James Evans in the Sikky 350z. He’s good but I knew I could beat him if I was on point, but not today, haha. I drove poorly and lost. Again kids, don’t stay out late the night before an event.
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XDC Orlando was a fun event.

Thanks Sponsors
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Brad @ groundwerks Garage
Driftworks
Sams Auto Land
Byron Hill
Alexander Grant vinyl help
Marty for help on the track and trailer storage
Sean Smithson
Eugene Chou, HE’S MY BEST FRIEND
and my girlfriend Susan

LOVE YOU ATLANTA!!! – Formula Drift Round 2 at Road Atlanta

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Braselton, GA – Round 2 of Formula Drift was set at beautiful Road Atlanta. I love this track. It’s fast and technical. It brings out the vulnerabilities in your car and you. My favorite part of this track is the fans. Of course I love them because a huge group of them are cheering for me. Remember, Atlanta is my home town and I started drifting there for the first time in the Atlanta Braves Turner Field parking lot at DGTrials events back in 2005. Last year the crowd was huge and very Rowdy, this year was no exception. Armed with posters, megaphones and beer, my people were out of control and I loved it. I always get tons of support in Atlanta and that makes the event my favorite of the tour.
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Also, I am working with Petfinder.com to have local shelters out at the events and this was the first event where a shelter came out. It was cool to meet Bill from Humane League of Lake Lanier. He was really excited to be at the event. I think it went well because Petfinder.com was pretty happy.
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First of all, getting to Atlanta was difficult due to the transmission of my truck pretty much grenading. It’s a manual, so all the guys had was 5th gear. I didn’t experience it, but imagine starting out in 5th towing a 2car enclosed…I heard the clutch was smoking. I am glad I wasn’t there to see it L .
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We get there, set up and get to driving. As usual, RoadA is causing some trouble. Grip is always hard to get for me. I can tell how the car is hooking up during the launch. I was getting a lot of wheel spin off the line. I made some adjustments and it was better.

HOW TO (my way):I take off down the hill, shift up to 4th and initiate…straight to ebrake and lightly feather the brake to slow down for the clipping point 1. Its down to 3rd and back on throttle through clipping point 1 and up the hill to the outer clip 2. Brake hard for clipping point 2 going up the hill and either shift down or stay in 3rd. Either one is fine, but the car lags a bit in 3rd, so I chose to shift to 2nd. Now you shoot into the horseshoe and aim for the edge of the track, trying your best to barely hang that RR tire off the track but not touching the dirt. This next step is critical, stay at the edge of the track until you have a clear shot of the next clipping point at the top of the hill out of the horsehoe. Throttle it hard to get your speed up, or feather it to get the speed up of your grip is not enough. Speed is key because if you shift to early (low speed) your car will bog in the next gear and you will straighten. Just because you hit the rev-limiter doesn’t mean it’s time to shift here. You shift and get into gear and start flying down the hill towards the left hander. You want to start with shallow angle to stay off the outer rumble-strips, they bit and bit hard. At the left-hander, if you go too fast, throw a little more angle in to slow down and setup for the last right turn. If you over shoot this last turn and go off course, you will destroy your suspension on the reverse-rake-rumble strips. I had the course down pretty well, I was just in-between gears somewhat and didn’t have the speed I wanted. I really need different gearing to get the wheel speed up a lot more than it is.
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RoadA is fast, technical and pretty hard to master. This makes its pretty sweet when you get some good qualifying runs and make the show on Saturday. I struggled with grip during practice and a few minor mechanical problems. I shifted in 3rd going down the hill and broke my 5th, 6th gear lock-out….and of course miss-shifted into 5th. It was an easy fix with the help of the Megan Racing guys grinder and a little bit of time. I got a chance to get some in-car video of some practice runs. I look like crap, but I am usually my worse critic. I scored a 61 my first run and I wasn’t happy. I found out my entry sucked. My next run I threw it in pretty hard and ran a good run, scored a 73. This put me in 18th place overall and paired my up with the 14th place guy, JTP. OK, so JTP got a zero his first run and laid down a conservative 2nd run to ensure he was in the show. This put him in 14th place and paired him up with me……awesome. Qualifying mid pack should ensure running guys that are equal with you, nope, not this time, I get the winner of Long Beach and the leader of the series, JTP. I knew I had a small chance to beat him, no one is perfect.
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I line up for top 32 against JTP. I knew he was much faster than me down the hill, so as soon as the last light lit, I took off, jumping him off the start really hard. I’m start slamming gears to get down the hill. Just as I get to the entry, JTP flies by me and we both initiate. I got him sort of close. I run a line behind him and he leaves me going down the hill after the horseshoe. No biggie, I did a clean run the best I could do.
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He follows me and of course he is on me pretty tight. The win goes to JTP. He told me this was revenge for me beating him about 4 years ago during NOPI Drift….honestly, I would have rather had this win. I owe him one now. Now it’s off to West Palm Beach where no one has the advantage of experience. See you in Florida.

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Brad @ groundwerks Garage
Driftworks
Sams Auto Land
Byron Hill
Alexander Grant vinyl help
Marty for help on the track and trailer storage
Sean Smithson
Mark Lenardon
Eugene Chou, HE’S MY BEST FRIEND
and my girlfriend Susan

Dennis Mertzanis is Now Partnered With Petfinder.com for Formula Drift 2011

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Dennis Mertzanis of Mertzanis Racing has partnered with Petfinder.com to promote awareness of homeless animals and the need for adoption. Dennis and longtime girlfriend are no strangers to dog adoption as they have 2 rescue dogs, Buddy and Lola, and have fostered dogs numerous of times. While it is challenging, there is nothing more rewarding than being able to help save dogs and finding good homes. As a big supporter of dog adoption, Dennis will volunteer his time, efforts and his car to help save dogs, one race at a time. Please show your support for Petfinder.com by stopping by the display at your local Formula Drift event. You can also show your support by donating your time or money to a local rescue shelter of your choice. Petfinder.com

“Saving just one pet won’t change the world. . . but, surely, the world will change for that one pet”

KONIG Wheels Signs on as Title Sponsor for Mertzanis Racing Program for 2011 Formula Drift

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Los Angeles, Ca – Mertzanis Racing is proud to name Konig Wheels as its title sponsor for the 2011 Formula Drift season. Konig Wheels participated in the program for 2010 and this year has decided to step it up for 2011. If you were at Long Beach for the first Formula Drift event of the year, you would have seen the red Konig Wheels sponsored car already.

“I am really happy that Konig Wheels saw the value in our program in 2010 and now are investing more for 2011. Konig is a great company to work with because, not only are they a bunch of cool guys, but they understand the industry and what it takes to be successful. I cannot wait to see how my new Konig Milligrams look and drift on the car” – Dennis Mertzanis.

Check online for the latest, hottest wheels out there for your ride. Konig Wheels