We caught up with Conrad Grunewald following his return from Canada to talk about his breakout performance at Formula D Sonoma.
DriftLive: Formula D Sonoma, How did you do at the event?
Conrad: We did very well, 4th. It was our first event with the Corvette and the car outperformed our expectations.
DriftLive: What have you been up to this season?
Conrad: I have been racing in the Grand-Am Koni challenge series in a BMW M3 while the Corvette was being built.
DriftLive: Why debut at Sonoma?
Conrad: Well the car just got finished and Sonoma was that week. So after a very brief test session at Irwindale we decided that the Corvette had some potential and Sonoma would be a great place to make our debut.
DriftLive: Your 07′ car is a C5 Corvette. How is that different from the Supra you were driving previously?
Conrad: Torque! And lots of it. The Supra (especially at the end of the 06′ season) made an incredible amount of power but the usable RPM band was small, much like a 2 stroke dirt bike. The Corvette on the other hand makes similar power but does it at 1000 RPM and keeps it going all the way till redline. The Corvette seems a bit heavier than the Supra was but has very similar steering angle.
DriftLive: Tell us the story of the Corvette, why was it chosen and what was done to it to make it work?
Conrad: The Corvette was bought by Dwight Tanaka about a year ago and taken to Techno Square where it was ripped apart and built by 2 amazing car builders, Richie and Howard. Dwight was very set on having a Corvette in Formula Drift, the obvious advantages of a supercharged V8 and the looks of a Corvette seemed to be a good combination. The Corvette has a blown 427 small block that makes about 560 HP at the rear tires at only 4psi. It has Penske shocks and Swift springs on all 4 corners. Richie and Howard did a great job with the steering angle, I’m not sure how much it has but it’s a lot. Other than that, the body work and safety equipment the car is stock.
Conrad battles Ken Gushi in the consolation round in Sonoma.
DriftLive: What hurdles do you see ahead of you for the rest of the season?
Conrad: I think we are just looking at the rest of the season as a learning experience, there is really no pressure since the car is new. We have a few bugs to iron out and I’m sure we will be testing the car to make sure that it keeps improving. Hopefully we can use the rest of the season to prepare the car for next year.
DriftLive: Is there anyone you’d like to thank for your success at Sonoma?
Conrad: I would like to thank Dwight and his wife for giving me the opportunity to drive the monster, and Richie and Howard for building an amazing machine. Also I would like to thank Jake for being a good spotter and telling me what I needed to know. Lastly, I need to thank Ken Gushi for being a gentleman and good sportsman and allowing us time in the consolation round to get the car ready… so he could kick my butt.