This Week in Ford Racing
Defending Formula Drift champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. was in Dearborn this week for the 2011 Ford Motor Company Dealer Intro Show. He took the opportunity to demo his drifting skills in a 5-litre Mustang at the Dearborn Development Center. This Week in Ford Racing caught up with Vaughn on the eve of the Formula Drift finale.
VAUGHN, LAST WEEKEND YOU MADE YOUR DEBUT AND WON AT THE 2011 WORLD DRIFT SERIES IN CHINA. TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW THAT WENT COMPARED TO RACING IN AMERICA. “I did win in China. From the season I’ve been having all year it felt amazing to get back on the top of the podium, even if it wasn’t in America. There’s a series over in China called the WDS, it’s the premier series in China. It’s been going on since 2006. And we flew one of my demo cars over there. Very underpowered compared to what I’m used to. And there was some really stiff competition. I ran against the D1 Grand Prix 2008 champion and current points leader, Daigo Saito and the top 8. We moved on and we were able to defeat him. Then I went against the current Taiwanese champion and he put up good battle. We ended up doing two, one more time. But in the end we prevailed and moved onto the finals against fellow Formula Drift driver, Matt Powers. We had a good battled, but fortunately I whooped up on him pretty good in one run so it didn’t go anymore.”
“It felt great. It was crazy. We were in an Olympic stadium there in China, just outside of Beijing, 35,000 spectators and it was on Chinese television. It was a real deal event. I was pretty impressed with the local competition I saw. I was very impressed with the competition that was there. I’ll be going back over the next couple years. In fact, my car is over there in China and one of my cars will be staying there. I’ll just keep flying back and forth. It was a really cool event because we went there – here when we’re in the States we have our top equipment. We show up with what we feel is top level equipment. And there we showed up with a car that was built in 2005, underpowered, we had to down tune the car because of the Chinese gas and it was just a hard fought battle from my team, the ASD crew in the pits and me behind the wheel. It really felt cool to kind of go there as potentially the underdog and be tested on just skill and strategy between team and driver. So I feel great and I’m getting ready to head out to Irwindale.”
AFTER LOOKING BACK AT 2011 AND THE ROUGH PATCHES YOU’VE HAD, DOES WINNING CHINA’S 2011 WDS HELP KEEP YOU MOTIVATED AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2012? “I’m looking forward to Irwindale to finish the year up. I’ve said it so many times this year; it just hasn’t been the best year for me. I’ve felt like I’ve performed very well, but I made two dumb mistakes throughout the year that just really put us back. Coming off this win from China, carrying that momentum to Irwindale, I feel like I have a good chance to win Irwindale and that’s what I’m going there to do. Because everyone needs to know that I’m still here and one off year doesn’t mean I’m going anywhere. But I’m really excited about 2012. Just to start off on a good foot. Can’t wait for Long Beach, get back in that points chase and get my championship back.”
AS YOU HEAD TO ROUND 7 “TITLE FIGHT” AT IRWINDALE YOUR FALKEN TIRE TEAMMATE, JUSTIN PAWLAK, IS SECOND IN THE STANDINGS FOR THE FORMULA DRIFT PRO CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU COULD OFFER HIM AS ADVICE OR WORDS OF WISDOM TO FINISH OUT THE SEASON? “I’m really pumped for Justin Pawlak. He’s sitting in second place right now in points; he has a great chance at the championship. We have been battling it out this year, and he’s just been murdering it. And at the end of the day I would love to see a Mustang win the championship. And as far as any words of advice for him, I would tell him to just stay cool, stay focused and be confident in what he can do. ASD and Falken have given him a great car out there. Ford Racing has given him a kick ass engine. He has all the tools to do it. It’s up to him to just go out there and be comfortable. There’s a lot of pressure. I was in this position last year, except I was way ahead in points and didn’t necessarily have to fight super hard to clench a championship. I fought hard all throughout the year. And now he’s got a lot to do to get up in first. But I’ll be there rooting for him. I hope he doesn’t line up against, because if he does I’m definitely gonna be driving against him hard because he whooped my butt twice this year and it’s not happening again.”
WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING OUT OF IRWINDALE? “I’m going to show up at Irwindale super focused. I know that I have a car that can win it. I know that I have the skill that can win it. And we’re just gonna go out there and drive as hard as I can. It’s the end of the year, I don’t have to save the car. If I get folded up a little bit I don’t have to worry about me because I have six months to recover. So I’m just going to go out there, throw it in as hard as possible and rock and roll!”