Vaughn Gittin Jr. leads China's Drifting Craze

The 2014 Formula DRIFT Pro Championship opens this weekend in Long Beach, Calif., but there hasn’t been much time off for Vaughn Gittin Jr. and his Ford Mustang RTR. When Gittin isn’t hanging out the tail of the Mustang RTR on the Formula DRIFT circuit in the United States, he can likely be found doing it somewhere else around the world, including China and Europe.

According to the Chinese calendar, 2014 is the year of the horse, and drivers there are eagerly anticipating the arrival for the first time ever of the all-new pony car in the world’s largest car market. To help pave the way, champion drifter Gittin has put in extra seat time behind the wheel of his custom-built 2013 Ford Mustang RTR D-spec racer in China, where he has thrilled crowds at World Drift Series events.

With the close quarters, high energy and big personalities involved in the action, it should come as no surprise that competitive drifting is one of the fastest-growing forms of motorsport in China. As a race winner and global ambassador for the sport, Gittin is leading that explosion in popularity, while the sight and sound of his iconic black and green Ford Mustang serves as the perfect fit for drifting.

“Over the last three years, the Mustang and I have become a crowd favorite,” said Gittin. “The fans are amazing, they know me, and I feel like they’re totally embracing the sport. Of course, the roar of a 650-horsepower racing V8 echoing inside that stadium helps a lot. People’s eyes light up and they point as if I was riding a unicorn around.”

Gittin competed in and won two consecutive 2013 World Drift Series events in China. Events are held on paved tracks inside some of the stadiums that were constructed for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

With up to 60,000 people attending each round of the series, the sport has developed a cult-like following in China. “It’s like the Super Bowl of drifting,” said Gittin. “It’s been pretty amazing to see the growth of the sport here, especially over the last three years.”

Gittin’s popularity has grown so rapidly that the RTR team built a special Mustang for World Drift Series events that stays in China for use in future races. Despite being custom-built, the car must be tuned for each track and race-day conditions. “We get in after a 20-hour flight and it’s straight to business,” said Gittin. “That means unpacking the car, tools and tires and getting set up for competition.”

At least a day is spent prepping and testing the car prior to each event, and then it’s on to qualifying and the race. It’s a five-day travel commitment each time, with the team on the ground for all three days of an event.

All the long hours and hard work have been worth the effort. Gittin and his Mustang have taken home three consecutive World Drift Series championships.

Gittin intends to continue his winning ways when the 2014 Formula DRIFT Pro Championship kicks off in Long Beach, Calif., April 4-5.

2015 Ford Mustang
The all-new Mustang is the most advanced version yet of the iconic pony car. The sleek new design of Mustang fastback and convertible is backed up by world-class performance from a range of available engines, including a new turbocharged EcoBoost® 2.3-liter and an upgraded 5.0-liter V8 with more than 420 horsepower.

In addition to state-of-the-art connectivity systems, Mustang features available advanced driver-assist systems, track apps, launch control and more.

Drivers in China and around the world will have an opportunity to experience the freedom and excitement of Mustang firsthand when the car becomes available there for the first time in 2015.

Source: Ford