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Otto Gravens Drifted back onto AutoModified

11 February 2011 One Comment

While keeping close tabs on one of South Africa’s pioneering drifters, we thought it would be great to catch up with Otto Graven again and see what Otto and his team at Monster Mob have been up to.

In our last interview with you the question came about why you had changed from your R33 Skyline to a Nissan 350Z. We notice you have not just mastered the V6, but you decided to get rid of the Nissans V6 motor and replace it with a beefy V8 Corvette C5R motor. What was that all about?
Otto: More throttle response, the VQ35 stroked to a 3.8 and the C5R makes roughly the same power, but throttle response on a normally aspirated engine is just better.  By doing this we managed to keep an additional 150kg off the car’s overall weight.

Can you give us a complete run down of what has been done to the Z since you 1st acquired it?
Otto: How long is this interview? (Laughs)
We cut away all the unnecessary bits, fitted in a FIM spec roll cage, and threw away the OEM suspension and replaced it all with customized works parts.

What kind of power is she producing on the dyno?
Otto: The V8 makes 588kw’s and 890nm of torque.
The Turbo car makes 590kw’s and 720nm torque.

If I’m not mistaken, last year you did quite a bit of traveling over to Japan, Malaysia and the States.
Otto: Yes, it was necessary consider them fact finding expeditions.  Lots of Homework!

Formula Drift must have been amazing to watch, did you learn much while over there and how does the Formula Drift compare to what SA has to offer at the moment?
Otto: Blair, (Laughs)!  There is no comparison… The American series has evolved over the past 7 years to a point where they are considered the world’s top drift series.

AM: Apparently Tanner Foust has retired this year from Formula D, what’s your take on this?
It came as a surprise to the Drift community, I imagine that alot of his fans will be disappointed with his semi-retirement from the FD series.  It’s a pity, I would really have enjoyed a tandem battle with Foust..

What’s your take on street drifting in Japan and the UK?
Otto: Haven’t ever had a reason to follow it, I believe the sport caters for safe and controlled venues and tracks; there should be little reason for a drifter to take to the streets?

A little birdie told me not so long ago that you are planning on competing in the American Formula Drift Series for 2011, is this true?
Otto: Yes, I have been granted a Formula Drift competitor licence for 2011.

If so, will we be seeing the Monster Mob 350Z being shipped over for the Series and when do you plan to leave for the US?
Otto: Two of the 350Z’s are being shipped over to the States sometime over the next few weeks.
If all goes well, the team will leave around the end of March.

In a few of the Formula Drift video clips I’ve seen it seems that Team Falcon are pretty tough contenders. How do you think Monster Mob will contend with the likes of big names like Team Falcon and the likes of Team Red Bull?
Otto: We did our homework, we are definitely ready!

On the Monster Mob Facebook page I’ve seen a lot of video clips popping up of you guys practicing, it seems like you have been practicing non-stop, have u got some sort of strategy planned?
Otto: We are perfecting the cars setup and spend hours looking for ways to increase the cars speed.

What do you hope to bring back to SA?
Otto: A Formula Drift Championship title of course (Laughs)

On that note, will you be competing in any SA events this year?
Otto: If the local events do not coincide with the American schedule, then yes!

If so when and where can we find you?
Otto: If I am not in the States or at a SUPA Drift event, then I’ll be in Kimberley testing at the raceway.

We have seen that the Monster Mob Garage is building up a few project cars, how do the technical specifications on drift cars differ from those in America regarding our rules here in SA?
Otto: The American’s have a full FIM list of criteria and the emphasis placed around safety is definitely higher.

Let’s just step away from the events side of things and talk about South Africa’s drift scene as a whole.

AM: Since our interview last year June, would you say our drift community has grown some what?
Otto: No.

Where would you say the South African drift community’s strong points lie?
Otto: There aren’t any at the moment; we still have a very long road ahead of us.  The best way to sum this up is to say that the local drift scene is not on the same train tracks as the rest of the world.

Where do you think we need to improve to compete at an international level?
Otto: You would have to start with the competitions; these would need to be run with International rules and guidelines.  If SA drifters were given the opportunity to drift internationally they wouldn’t stand much of a chance with regards to entry speeds, clipping zones and all round impression (Drift speed, style and aggression).

AM: If one was to start drifting in South Africa, what would you say in your opinion is a good car to start out with?  I’ve heard that a Nissan 200SX is the place to start but not a car you really want to hurt. So where does that leave us?
Otto: The 200SX is the best car!  It initially needs a few adjustments but thereafter maintenance is really easy.

Talking about development, those nice looking Good Year’s you had/have, how well do they light up and will you be using them more often?
Otto: Those were for testing purposes to see what type of grip D1 drivers are getting.

Have you got any other toys hiding in the Monster Mob garage under development other than the Red 200Sx of MMR Advanced Drift training?
Otto: All development and testing is being done with our R33’s.

Monster Mob Raceway has seen a lot of drifting in the last year why are you guys looking for crazy stock car drivers?
Otto: We are a raceway, and love competition… Consider this a challenge for all the stock car drivers.

Does this mean that the race way will be expanding the track again to facilitate stockies?
Otto: We currently have to MSA approved oval tracks on the main circuit, so we are eager to get Oval racing back to Kimberley.

Let’s step away from the seriousness of motorsport and step into the personal side.
Otto: What was your biggest achievement for 2010?
Being granted a FD licence, the process has been going on since last year.

Funniest joke you have heard lately and we don’t want to hear any Knock-Knock jokes?
Otto: I applied for a job in a mental hospital, they said I need 24 hours experience with a retard, you wanna chill tomorrow – I have crayons?

We asked you in the last interview what your favourite food was, so ill mix it up a bit and find out what your most favorite dish was in Asia?
Otto: In Hong Kong I went to an American Restaurant and had the best steak ever!

I suppose that brings us to an end of this interview, as always thanks for taking out the time to do this interview. Enjoy your adventures and we will catch up with you soon.
Otto: It’s my pleasure, thank s Blair.

If you haven’t read the 1st interview we had with Otto Graven.
You can do so now, click on his name.

One Comment »

  • Bianca Goebbels said:

    Thanks Blair!

    As always it is a pleasure to take time out to catch up with your readers.


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