Hate him, love him, take him up on an offer to Laser Wolf in Fort Lauderdale (plug) for some delicious craft beer to talk about his vision and simply to get a closer understanding of the methodical determination of Kevin Phillips as he starts his Formula Drift Pro2 career.
I didn’t choose the Drift LIfe, it chose me
As some of you might know, I’ve been hanging out with Kevin for a good portion of his drifting career. In his grassroots years of South Florida Drifters circa Countyline Dragway, Kevin bought a clean Nissan 350Z that came in daytona blue pearl metallic or what I like to call Rockman* Blue *(what Mega Man is called in Japan), and later added his trademark orange wheels. Fun fact, while his adventures at Countyline played out, he managed to have an outer zone named after him. Ask him about it.
2013 Street Wise Drift pro-am series, Kevin entered with his freshly wrapped Vision Skateboard “gator” swirl inspired black, blue and purple livery supercharged 350Z, which was freehand layered by the great hands of James Tate of Tate Design (plug) and yes, those bright ass orange wheels made it along for this rendition. I swear he must have gotten those wheels at wholesale prices or something. He seriously had like a million sets of those oranges wheels.
2014 Formula Drift(FD) season, Kevin landed the gig of being Mike Essa’s Eye of Sauron the all seeing eye in the sky or rather just his spotter. Oh what is a spotter you might ask? A spotter is a team member whose job is to relay information to their driver, keeping them alert of what is occurring on the track and within their runs while the track is hot. Since they are typically positioned higher than the track layout, this allows them to see things from a different perspective. Spotters are considered the drivers’ “eyes” hence why I made the Lord of Rings reference. This was pretty dang cool for him to make his way behind the scenes of FD. A power move for him to gain exposure, experience and a first hand understanding of what it takes to be in the Pro circuit. However, I personally love meeting up at various rounds of FD and having him share things he learned along the way.
2015 was a pivotal year as Kevin said farewell to his Fairlady Z and bye bye to those orange wheels. His focus was set on taking his drift career to the next step. He entered in Florida’s only FD Pro2 licensing event at Three Palms on west coast of Florida with his new financially sound drift car. A grey, blue and purple, chevy v8 powered early model Nissan 240sx s14. I assume Kevin went with the s14 because of the history the car has in drifting, which meant that parts have been developed for the 240sx over the years and they are also cheaper than those for the 350Z. The LS1 engine made about 150 more ponies than his supercharged 3.5 L VQ35DE in the 350z. The s14 also weighed 400 pounds less than the Z, allowing for him to dial in a lot more grip while drifting. While the s-chassis proved to be a better car for Kevin to manicure his driving style, he did miss the visual style of his 350Z.
At the end of series Kevin proving himself to be worthy of acquiring the right of passage to compete in FD Pro2. All of these events finally lead to the moment in 2017 when we met up at Laser Wolf, clanged beer mugs(I had a snifter glass tho and most likely spilled some beer) and drank to an awesome new venture into the unknown waters of FD Pro2.
2017, I am sad to say, but due to schedule conflicts I was unable to be present for Kevin’s maiden voyage into in FD Pro2. The competition was scheduled on Thursday and Friday and that week of all weeks was one which I was finishing up a project. I really wanted to see him spread his wings and soar on the upper banks of Orlando Speed World(OSW). Sorry bud. However, from our beer infused talks we had earlier that year, we decided that a Drift Life x myculture t-shirt sponsorship was a great idea to help fund part of his FD Pro 2 program. So on Saturday we finally met up at one of the hottest FD rounds I’ve ever experienced. Like damn it was hot as balls in Florida that time of year and to mention OSW literally is a frying pan. After a brief walk around the pits, I made it over to Kevin’s trailer to set up shop. His new #954 livery came out amazing, being that we share South Florida as our hometown it was the icing on the cake seeing him rep Broward County by it’s famous area code. As the day went by we did our share of hyping our manns up to everyone whom came by. There was a lot of positive energy in the air as we shared our stories about kevin and his pursuits to become Pro. To be honest the day flew by as did the merch, I only saw like two runs that day but it was worth it to help out. By the way we have a few left in stock and you can grab one in our shop.
2017 Orlando Speed World, the third round of FD the 1st round of Pro2. From beer infused talks from our moment at Laser Wolf we came to the conclusion about the idea of collaboration on some merch. And we did just that! With a t shirt sponsorship, the “Drift Life x myculture” was made. We planned to be Orlando to see Kevin’s maiden voyage in the FD Pro2 circus. But due to schedule conflicts, we were unable to do so. Super bummed by this as we wanted to be there to see Kevin spread his wings and soar on the upper banks of OSW. We finally met up with him on the Saturday for FD Pro and setup our rickshaw merch tent by his pit area. I dubbed our setup it the “Drift Life awesome time hang out fun spot” or something crazy like that. We did our share of hyping our manns up to everyone whom came by the setup, there was a lot of positive energy in the air as we spread our stories about Kevin and his reason for being here. To be honest the time flew by as we manned the merch, I remember only seeing like two runs of FD that day.
This year I caught up with Kevin to ask him a few questions. I asked him to detail how he set up his car for FD Pro2 and what kind of challenges he had while sailing his maiden voyage in this new set up.
“It was set up very close to our program set up. We had to make some small adjustments to fit within the rulebook of Formula Drift, and for the first time we had a nitrous which was amazing. The car is a rocket. Unfortunately before even getting to use the nitrous I blew up my original LS1 and we decided to go with an LQ for its low compression engine out of H2 Hummer. This was actually a great idea because we just barely got over the weight limit of 2900 pounds at 2920. As for some of the challenges it was mainly with the original coil packs on the car from the LS1. The Insulation was too thin and caused overheating which led to misfires. A lot of the struggle was mental as well, being that I have no sponsors I did what I had to do to get everything I needed in time for competition. Even though there was plenty of struggle to go around, a lot of my awesome moments came in practice when I got to toy with some people at OSW. My favorite round was Seattle because I have such a huge support base there and fans who love to be a part of everything I do.”
I also asked him about what we could expect from him going into this year and what kind of changes he was making to the car to improve it for this year.
“The new set up will pretty much be the same thing the only difference is that I am working on myself as a driver to make sure I don’t make any silly mistakes. I’m also going with a different look and which will have a SFL inspired livery. As for this year a lot of things are unknown, being that no tire company has hit me back as yet about being involved with Pro2. One of them will have to get involved either way being that only two companies are approved tires for Pro2 (politics). As for the sponsors, you see the whole well is dried up and it’s scary to think like that but it is what it is. Most if not all of the formula drift pro2 roster is privateers with outside financial backing (rich kids).”
It is a road many have attempted, few have succeeded to earn their piece of plastic with their name and photo which confirms, hey you did it! You are pro now kinda like a Rockstar or Monster or Nos, I guess whatever energy drink defines you. Good Luck this season bruv.
Photo x shane prescod
Location @ Everywhere Kevin was in those photos