By Huw Evans
Since 2005, Vaughn Gittin Jr. has become one of the most recognizable names in drifting, proving himself a serious contender behind the wheel of his distinctive Falken Tire sponsored Mustang, not only in the US Formula Drift series, but also the prestigious D1 Grand Prix, where he's beaten many seasoned competitors.
For Mustang fans, he's also played a major role in establishing the car in the sport, as well as developing the RTR package, not only for drifting but as a dealer-installed option as well.
Although Formula Drift didn't prove to be hugely rewarding for the self-taught driver from Annapolis, MD last year, in 2012, it's shaping up to be a much better season. At the most recent Formula D round, held at Wall Speedway in New Jersey this past weekend, Gittin, not only put in his most impressive performance so far this year, he also won the event and in a brand new, previously unproven car to boot!
Despite less than favorable conditions on Friday, June 22, Gittin put in an excellent performance to score 96 points and earn him a second place in qualifying.
On Saturday, June 23, he put his talents to good use, ending up in a semi-round match up with rival Chris Fosberg. Although Gittin hit the wall, damaging his back bumper, he put in a steady performance and went through to the next round.
In the final it was two Falken cars as Gittin was pitched against teammate Dajiiro Yoshihara. What was interesting about this match up; was that the former has never been able to beat the latter in a Drift competition. It was a clearly a close run contest between the two teammates, yet Vaughn piled on the pressure and this time gained the upper hand, Yoshihara losing a bit of momentum while giving chase through turn one. When all was said and done, Gittin had earned the top spot from the judges, giving the new RTR Mustang a win on its debut outing.
In commenting on his victory, a clearly delighted Gittin said that while "it took me a little longer than expected to harness [the new Mustang], the team and I worked extremely hard and overcame the challenges and got back on the podium and it feels amazing!"
As a result of his win in New Jersey, Gittin now lies fourth in the championship standings, with three rounds left to go, Evergreen, Washington (July 20-21), Las Vegas (August 24-25) and the final at Toyota Speedway, Irwindale, CA (October 12-13).