Heavy Metal Affliction -- Rob Primo Interview

John Schommer
Thursday, September 06, 2012
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This is part two of the story of Rob Primozich, aka Rob Primo—Gamertag SPONGE W0RTHY--former pro-am, and now Formula D Pro-drift driver and his Nissan S14. Read part one here.

 

Given the opportunity to work with an up and coming drift-racing driver is not something to take lightly. I met Rob Primo at his sponsor’s shop Garage Autohero, photographed his car, and got to know him. The following weekend we met at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA for the final NW Pro-Am Drift event of the season—where Primo collected enough points to earn his pro license for the 2013 Formula D season. Primo got me into the pits and offered me a chance to ride with him in the S14 on a couple practice runs.

 

I also conducted an interview with Primo to find out a little more about him. Here’s what he had to say:

 

Heavy Metal Affliction: What was your first car? What is your daily driver today? 

 

Rob Primo: My first car was a 1990 Honda Civic DX hatchback. It was stock and slow. I knew nothing about working on cars at that time. I just knew how to change my stock tires out for my studded snow tires as this was my “Billy goat” to Mount Baker. My daily driver is a perfect condition low miles 2005 BMW M3 with the 6sp. It is stock except for a few exterior accents and a bike rack. My inner car nut is wanting to modify it but priorities set in and the drift car along with tires take precedence. I have wanted a M3 for over a decade and finally I was able to find my dream car a few months ago. I built up an E46 M3 on Forza in a color and look that I liked, ironically that was the same color and wheel setup that I ended up finding.  

 

HMA: When did you first drift a car? Did it immediately inspire a love of drifting? What got you into the sport?  

 

RP: I first drifted a car back in 2003 at an autocross where I was driving my 1995 Nissan 240sx with a SR20DET engine (the very same car that I own today) but that was at such a low level that I didn’t really know         what I was really doing. I, like many others, saw old Japanese Option videos and saw things that I thought would never be possible for me at least. I even road tripped to Irwindale Speedway in 2003 to watch the first ever D1 Grand Prix USA, where I stood on the inner wall and was covered by tire shards at the end of the day. But still not hooked. It was the first actual “drift” event that I took part in back in February of 2004. I was on four hours sleep and I drove three hours each way into Canada to drive. Upon the end of the day I had a smile on my face that I couldn’t shake the entire drive home. That is when I knew I was hooked and would do anything to drive every chance I got. 

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A post-race interview with Rob Primo

 

HMA: How long have you been playing Forza? What is your favorite car and track in Forza? Now that you’re drifting in Forza, how does it compare to real life drifting? 

 
RP: I have been playing Forza since 2006 when I started playing Forza Motorsport 2.  My favorite car for racing in Forza Motorsport 4 is the Ferrari 458 Italia. That car is amazing with slicks on! My favorite car for drifting is probably the Top Secret Supra or my own personal S14. My favorite track for drifting is the Iberian International Circuit Mini. Forza drifting is actually pretty accurate. In fact this game is a staple in the drifting community including Formula D drivers who need to get some good simulation practice during the off season. It’s cool how you use real world adjustments with your e-brake, clutch, brakes, and throttle to drift well in Forza.
 
HMA: Now that you have your Formula D Pro license what will you focus on as you step into those shoes? 

  

RP: I really just want to focus on enjoying the amazing opportunity of competing in Formula D. I have been working very hard to get to this stage and I don’t want to lose sight of why I got into this sport in the first place. Plain and simple it’s fun and brings a smile to my face every time. Plus I know I’ll put a ton of pressure on myself and if I keep that “this is fun” mindset I will drive better. 
 
HMA: You’re obviously very busy with work, tuning and racing, but what do you do when you have some free time, or does that novelty even exist? 
 
RP: I don’t have much free time these days but when I do I enjoy spending time with friends, snowboarding, mountain biking, and playing video games 
 
HMA: You are a full foot taller than me does your neck get sore having to look down so far to make eye contact? 
 
RP: I stretch a lot to avoid neck pain from looking down. Probably the best part about being tall and drifting is when people seriously ask me if I drive from the back seat. 

 

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Johniwanna and Rob Primo chillin' at the track

HMA: People say you are a really nice guy, and I’ve heard you called a NW favorite. Why do you think that is? 

 RP: If I’m considered a NW favorite then that’s a great honor considering there are a lot of great drivers and awesome people within the NW drift community. I just try to showcase my individuality and I think that comes through. Additionally I like to give back to the sport, so I’m always looking for ways to help the sport grow and get additional tracks and venues open to the idea of drifting. 
 
HMA: Did you play an active part in the livery design of your S14? What about the overall tune and set up? 
 
RP: In regards to the design of my livery I told Factory 83 some parameters to work with (I like water and love the color green), but he freestyled a vinyl scheme that would turn heads. I can’t take credit for his genius. That car was vinyled for 19 hours straight from noon on a Saturday to 7 a.m. on a Sunday. At 7 a.m. we promptly loaded the car and headed for the track. 

Regarding the engine and overall setup. I have some great help and advice from Garage Autohero, John Reed Racing, and Portland Speed Industries in regards to setup, fabrication, engine building, tuning, and prep. But a lot of the assembly and tear down is done by myself and my father. I’m proud to say that I have taken the car apart and put it back together a few times. 
 
HMA: Will you keep this car for the 2013 season? 
 
RP: Right now the plan is to keep this car. However if someone were to come along and provide me with a full car or a new chassis I would consider changing. If I could keep one thing I would keep my 2JZGTE engine. Something that I kind of thought would be cool would to swap my engine, wheels, and anything else into a Lexus IS300 4-door and make that my competition car. However those are just my wild daydreams. 
 
HMA: Thanks a ton for your time and for being a Heavy Metal Affliction story!
 
RP: Thanks for the opportunity!  I need to thank my awesome sponsors Garage Autohero, John Reed Racing, Ten Gun, Era 1, NOS Energy Drink, Falken Tire, Factory 83, The Hoonigans, Keep Drifting Fun, Northwest Riders, Portland Speed Industries, Northwest Nissans, Kaaz USA, and Hell Yeah Custom Coating. I also want to that David Sullivan of Sully Life for the amazing video series this season!  Thanks to the awesome photographers and videographers Sit Titus, Yoshi Shindo, Tandem of Die, Yaer Productions, AW Films, and Blat Blat Pew Pew.  Lastly I want to thank my family and friends for all the amazing support over the years.

 

After the interview and watching Primo and his dad swap out a squeaky belt, we hit the track. Check out the amazing video from the roof of the car and my in-car footage to hear me absolutely loving it! It also gave me a new understanding of the draw of the sport, as Primo told me it would.

 

Rooftop video of my ride along:

 

 

 

In car footage of my ride along:

 

 

 

At Evergreen Speedway there are two tracks. A 3/8 mile track and a 5/8 mile track, they both run a similar drift course but the speed carried through the banked turn they initiate on is vastly different. The power it takes to drift at higher speeds is relative to the increased risk.

 

To drift awesomely you must have grip. That sounds contradictory but the fact is drift racers want to run with as much rubber as they can and run very low pressure. This contributes to the awesome display of tire smoke and flying tire bits, but it’s really about traction.

 

Drifting is also all about control, flow, and style. As a judged event, drivers need to maintain drift, manage the maximum angle possible, and do so with style and grace. Grace even includes kissing the wall with the tail of the car. A light scrape on the rear bumper is a sign of greatness and a scuff to be savored like a trophy. Such a mark often means a winning run. Primo’s S14 has several.

 

Check out these practice runs Primo did on the big boy (5/8) track.

 

 

 

Follow Rob Primo on his Facebook page to keep up with his latest events. He also shares a lot of pictures via his Instagram- @robprimo

 

If this story has whetted your appetite for drifting why not take advantage of an opportunity to compete against Rob Primo,--Gamertag SPONGE W0RTHY in the “Primo Drift” Monthly Rivals event. Talk some smack in the Primo Drift thread then go lay some rubber. Unicorns will be gifted to posters in the thread and randomly among all who compete in the Rivals event.