Atlanta is a favorite track for many of the drivers in Formula Drift and for fans alike. This is mostly because of a long downhill straight that leads into a drift-purpose built “horseshoe” turn. This layout lends itself to some very high speed qualifying runs and tight tandem battles. However things got a little too tight when Vaughn Gittin Jr. went up against Fredric Aasbo.
Just as the first run was to begin with Fredric leading, Vaughn Gittin Jr. managed to literally run over the front end of Aasbo Scion. The amazing part is both drivers managed to keep drifting! Although Aasbo’s Scion was damaged so he limped through his second run giving Gittin the win. We have a feeling this incident will be talked about for a long time.
When the action continued it was Daigo Saito who took on all challengers to get the victory. Darren McNamara took second place and Vaughn Gittin Jr taking third. Gittin’s podium puts him on top of the points standings, thanks in part to Dai Yoshihara’s early exit in the top 32 battles.
Next up on the schedule is round 3 in Palm Beach, FL. If round 2 was any indication of things to come, the next round is going to be epic!
Welcome to the first big news bit of the year! What was just a “rumor” a little more than a month ago is confirmed news today. Vaughn Gittin Jr. has officially parted ways with Falken Tire and will run Nitto Tires this season and he is bringing ASD and Monster Energy with him. This is pretty big news for the drift set. Vaughn Gittin Jr. is hands down the most marketable driver in all of drifting and has had the most marketing success. Gittin made regular appearances representing both Ford and Falken Tire all over the world, was featured in national Ford advertising campaigns that included network tv advertising, movie theater advertising, and an elaborate online campaigns.
His partnership with Ford even allowed him to create his own branded Mustang dealer performance kit called the “RTR” (Ready To Rock) which has been selling well and is looking to expand even more in the future.
So why would Falken Tire allow someone with so much market potential to walk away? Well, that is pretty much impossible to answer unless you are Vaughn Gittin Jr himself or on the inside of Falken Tire. Although, some have speculated that it may have something to do with the fact that ASD (Autosports Dynamics) the shop that has built pretty much all of Vaughn’s highly competitive cars, announced they were parting ways with Falken towards the end of last season. It is possible that Vaughn didn’t want to deal with the growing pains of a new mechanic crew who would likely be unfamiliar with the Mustang platform. Again, this is just speculation on my part.
Whatever the case, this move has a lot of possible implications for both Falken and Nitto. Without Gittin on the payroll will Falken use the extra dollars to back a fresh face? Or, on the other side of that coin, with Ford and Monster Energy moving their money away from Falken, will that mean they will have to cut corners for their remaining drivers? Then there is the question of what Nitto Tire will do. Will they pull backing from smaller teams like Matt Powers and Burgenholtz racing to help fund an all-in effort for Vaughn Gittin?
Time will tell! For the official word from Vaughn check out his press release below.
BALTIMORE, Md. (January 8, 2013) – Formula Drift Champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. is excited to announce that he has joined forces with Nitto Tire. Fueled by passion and innovation, Nitto Tire is a perfect match for Vaughn and his always forward-thinking team. Vaughn, who is undeniably one of drifting’s most iconic drivers, will represent Nitto Tire and showcase their max-performance tire’s superior performance and capability through competing in the Formula Drift Championship and China’s WDS Series. He will also be performing exhibitions and experiential events all over the world, where many will have the opportunity to ride shotgun in his Monster Energy Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR.
From Vaughn: “I am pumped to be working with Nitto Tire! As I enter this new chapter of my career, it feels great to be aligned with a brand that is committed to winning and progression, just as I am. I have always been focused on working just as hard off the track as I do on it, and Nitto’s innovative marketing efforts and awesome tires will compliment that well. It is very clear that our overall passion and future goals align perfectly, and I could not be happier with what the future has to offer surrounding this partnership.”
In 2013 Vaughn will continue to be supported by the Autosport Dynamics (ASD) crew – the team behind his 2007 World Championship, 2010 Formula Drift Championship, and 2011 WDS Championship. During the off-season, Vaughn and ASD have thoroughly tested the Nitto NT05 max-performance tire and they are very confident in the competitive edge they will have entering the 2013 season.
Harry Kong, Marketing & Social Media Strategist for Nitto Tire: “Vaughn has proven himself to be an incredible driver and Champion, and Nitto Tire is looking forward to partnering with him for the upcoming 2013 drifting season. The Monster Energy Ford Mustang RTR running NT05 tires should be an exciting combination.”
“Through testing, we found the Nitto NT05 offers a high level of consistent grip through all temperature ranges, and that the high quality construction of the tire allows it to handle excessive abuse – both qualities of which are crucial for drifting,” said Vaughn.
Vaughn’s first public event drifting on Nitto’s NT05’s will be January 24-27 at the St. Louis Auto Show where he will be performing demos and hanging out with his fans. Find out how you can win a ride-along by visiting Saintlouisautoshow.com
Stay tuned for more details about the 2013 season, as well as the upcoming release of the fresh look of Vaughn’s brand new Monster Energy Nitto Tire Mustang RTR! For more information, please visit VaughnGittin.com or Facebook.com/OfficialVaughnGittinJr
ABOUT VAUGHN GITTIN JR.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. has become one of drifting’s most iconic figures and his machine, the Monster Energy Nitto Tire Tire Ford Racing Mustang, one of the sport’s most identifiable cars. Vaughn is known best by his aggressive, foot to the floor, big smoke driving style. Being such a fierce competitor, Vaughn is known as the only American to win a D1 Grand Prix event, not once – but twice. In 2005 Vaughn stunned the world when he won the D1GP USA vs. Japan. In 2007, he brought America the gold once more by winning the D1GP World Championship.
In 2010, Vaughn earned his first Formula Drift Championship, becoming the second-ever Champion with a strictly-drifting background. In 2011, Vaughn competed in China’s premier drift series, WDS, and took home the Championship. In 2012, Vaughn was shy just one spot of the Championship, taking second place overall. He has achieved five wins and multiple podiums throughout his Formula Drift career.
ABOUT NITTO TIRE:
Nitto Tire develops performance tires for all uses, including racing, off-road and street. Using state-of-the-art manufacturing and testing facilities in both Japan and the United States – Nitto provides innovative and high-quality performance tires for the most demanding automotive enthusiasts. For more information about Nitto or its products, visit the company’s web site or contact the company directly. Nitto is a registered trademark of Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc., located at 5665 Plaza Drive, Ste. 250, Cypress, Calif., 90630.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. nearly pulled the comeback of all comebacks this year in Formula Drift and nearly won the championship. However, things did not go his way at the final battle in Irwindale and Daigo Saito took advantage to get win the title. Ever since the announcement that Falken and ASD (the engineering team that built nearly all of Vaughn’s Ford Mustang drift cars) were parting ways there have been rumors of Vaughn’s future with the massive Falken Tire team. Would he stay with Falken Tire? Or would he go where ASD goes since he knows they can build him a winning car? That buzz swelled even more when Vaughn’s name was left off FalkenTire’s 2013 drift team roster in a press release sent out during SEMA 2012. This was pretty shocking to most as Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Falken Tire go together like shake ‘n bake.
Vaughn brought major attention to Falken and to Ford when he was the first American to win a D1 event and the first driver to win in an American car at a D1 event when he captured the victory at the D1: Japan vs USA event in Irwindale several years ago. He then brought a huge shot of sponsorship dollars to the team when he signed a personal sponsorship deal with Monster Energy drink who also sponsored his car and crew. The same year that Monster Energy came on board he brought Falken Tire their first Formula Drift championship. Vaughn and Falken Tire’s relationship is one of the longest in Formula Drift as Falken is the only team Vaughn has ever driven for since becoming a professional drifter. Could they really be “breaking up”?
Well yesterday I heard from a few personal sources that Vaughn has signed a deal with Nitto Tire. Later that same day, Wrecked Magazine reported rumors that Vaughn was spotted with the ASD team testing on Nitto tires at an unknown location.
So far there has been no “official” word from Vaughn, Falken Tire, or Nitto Tire so for now this story remains in the “rumor” category; However, think we will hear from one of the parties involved soon.
I realize I am a little late to the party when it comes to this but better late than never right!? Ok, I apologize! Forgiveness please! Anyhow let us get to business. Just like the year before, the final round of Formula Drift at Irwindale Speedway AKA “The House Of Drift” was the most intense due to a very close points battle. Things were so tense and close that just about every drift fan in the tri-county area wanted to see how it played out. Not only did the event sell out, but it sold out before the gates even opened which is a first for Irwindale Speedway and Formula Drift. A crowd of nearly 20,000 packed Irwindale to see how things were going to play out at the ”Final Fight”. Falken driver Vaughn Gittin Jr. was on top of the points coming into the weekend but mathematically speaking had 6 drivers who could have taken the title away from him at Irwindale. Realistically speaking there were only two drivers who posed a threat to Vaughn: Daigo Saito and Rhys Millen who were second and third in points respectively.
To hold off most of the mathematical points contenders Vaughn simply needed to qualify well and make it past the “Top 16″. Unfortunately he kind of stumbled on one and completely botched the other. Vaughn qualified 9th, which seemed decent at first but then lost its luster when Ryan Tuerck, Justin Pawlak, and Rhys Millen all qualified ahead of him. In fact Rhys Millenwas the #1 qualifier with a nearly perfect run at 97 points. Pawlak and Tuerck did not gain much ground because of this but now Rhys was in serious striking distance. Vaughn out-qualified Saito but only by a few places as Saito qualified 13thdue to troubles with his car.
All the necessary players made it past the Top 32 but after that is when things got interesting. Vaughn Gittin was paired up against Pat Mordaunt in the Top 16 and when Vaughn was on his chase run against Pat he spun out on the infamous transition on the front straight, thus handing the win to Mordaunt and gleaming, glittering, golden opportunities to Millen and Saito.
There was potiential for two great stories. For Millen, winning the championship would mean the ultimate redemption after Hyundai announced they would not be backing his program in 2013. For Daigo Saito it would mean solidifying himself as the current world’s greatest drifter after winning a D1 championship and Formula Drift Asia. He would have also been the first person in Formula Drift history to win the title in their “rookie” season.
To make things even more dramatic Millen and Saito were on the same side of the bracket. So, it would literally come down to a battle between the two to decide the 2012 championship. Rhys had been at the top of his game all night and Daigo was killing it as always so the capacity crowd knew that once the two met in tandem it would be an epic battle. “Epic” turned out to be the correct word as the two drivers drove as hard as they could but Rhys unfortunately drove a little too hard and during his chase run he over cooked it coming into the hairpin and slapped his Hyundai Genesis coupe against the wall right in front of the judges. His car was done for the night which gave the Championship to Daigo Saito. Rhys’ DNF also handed an automatic third place podium finish to Ryan Tuerck.
The final battle of the night came down to the new 2012 champion Daigo Saito and Justin “JTP” Pawlak. These two may not have been close to each other in the points but they do have a history with each other as Pawlak once got very angry with Saito after he felt that Saito brake checked him in the Florida round. Many wondered what would happen if Saitodid anything that might look like a brake check this time with such high stakes. However things did not quite get that far as JTP pretty much made the same mistake Rhys did while chasing Saito and hit the wall HARD in front of the judges at the hairpin.
With that it was over. Daigo Saito was not only the 2012 champion but he was also the winner of the “Final Fight” at Irwindale Speedway. As I mentioned before Daigo is the first driver in Formula Drift history to win the championship in their rookie year. He is also only the second ever Japanese born champion (Dai Yoshihara was the first). He is also the first Formula Drift USA champion to have already won a D1 championship. And he did all of this on one of the lowest funded teams on the grid, without a V8. The last person to win a Formula Drift championship without a V8 was Tanner Foust who won back-to-back titles in his V6 Nissan 350Z.
With this championship Daigo is arguably the best drifter in the world right now. What a season! What a champion! What a final round! If you did not make it out to Irwindale because tickets got sold out or you just were unable to make the trip then I highly recommend trying again next year and being very proactive. The good news is that tickets for the opening around of Formula Drift’s 2013 season at Long Beach are already on sale. Pick yours up ASAP and go on another ride!
For our full gallery of Formula Drift “Final Fight” Irwindale 2012 check out our Facebook gallery.
Formula Drift returned to the ATL over the weekend for Round 2 AKA “Road To The Championship” as the grid continues to battle it out for supremacy. To mix things up the judges changed the layout of the track by having drivers go around the “horseshoe” first instead of at the end which made for some interesting tandem battles. When the smoke cleared the podium was almost a repeat of Long Beach with Justin “JTP” Pawlak taking the win and Daigo Saito taking third. However, it was Fredric Aasbo who captured second place instead of Dai Yoshihara (who lost in top 32 to Ryan Tuerck). The results give JTP a comfortable points lead with 209 total putting him 51.5 points ahead of new second place points holder Daigo Saito while Dai Yoshihara has fallen back to 7th place in points with 118. If the 2011 champ has any hopes of repeating he has his work cut out for him, meanwhile JTP better watch his back for Daigo as it is more than obvious that he has a very good chance at taking the title in his rookie year!
The past weekend marked the official kick-off of the 2012 Formula Drift season. Once again the roar of drift cars echoed off the high rise condominium and office buildings of downtown Long Beach and layers upon layers of scorched tire rubber were laid down on turns 9, 10, and 11 of the Long Beach Grand Prix street course. Round 1 of the Formula Drift season is always the most anticipated because this is the time when the fans get to see the debut of new cars, new drivers, and in same cases new teams.
Speaking of new cars one of the biggest stories of this year’s first round was the debut of Ken Gushi’s new Scion Racing FR-S drift car built by GReddy. Scion is banking on the FR-S so much that they actually flew out the first 86 people to drop a deposit on one out to the event all expenses paid and built a special VIP viewing area for the group to cheer on Gushi and the other Scion Racing drivers. “The Gush” as he is called had a pretty good first outing in the new FR-S as he made it all the way to the Great 8. Unfortunately he had to face 2011 Formula Drift Champion Dai Yoshihara. During the battle Gushi gave the FR-S its first official introduction to the walls of Long Beach, effectively handing the win over to Yoshihara.
Another major talking point of the weekend revolved around the track itself as the surface was repaved just weeks before the event. A special test session was held with one driver from each tire sponsor to see how their rubber would hold up to the new asphalt surface. The feedback was resoundingly positive and it showed in the tandem battles as many drivers who historically had lackluster performances were throwing down lines that were straight gangsta! To help measure just how “gansta” each run was Formula Drift actually had proximity sensors installed at the three main clipping points of the track that would light up every time a car came within a foot of said point. It really helped to show who was really hanging it out there and who was being conservative; it really was a great addition for the hardcore fans who love to technically break down each run to the minute details.
In the end the final battle was a re-enactment of the 2011 points battle as it came down to 2011 champion Dai Yoshihara against 2011 runner up Justin “JTP” Pawlak while the battle for third place came down to fan-favorite Matt Powers against living legend Daigo Saito who was killing it all weekend. Saito, with his Toyota 2JZ powered soarer proved that V8s are not needed The final battle between JTP and Dai was close but this time Justin Pawlak came out on top claiming the victory and marking his second year in a row winning in Long Beach.
With round 1 officially in the books it is onto round 2 at Road Atlanta which is a favorite among the drivers due to its super fast downhill entry. Stay tuned to MotorworldHype.com as we will have the live feed from the event at the top of our page!
For a full gallery of all the action from the weekend hit the links below to our Facebook photo albums.
If you love drifting then I am sure you already have tickets to round one of Formula Drift this weekend in Long Beach so I am writing this for those of you out there who might still be on the fence about drifting or who like it but have never been to an event before. Formula Drift’s show on the Streets Of Long Beach is one of their best, most anticipated, and most attended rounds of the entire year! Long Beach is when the teams debut new cars and in some cases new drivers. Then there is the fun of watching these guys attempt to slide their very expensive machines sideways at high speeds between two very unforgiving concrite walls! If you want your first taste of drifting this event is definitely the place to get it.
The only catch is most of the seating is reserved for this event so you have to move fast before they sell out! Hit up the official event page for info and tickets.
If you did not get a chance to tune in to the livestream of Formula Drift over the weekend you missed Falken Tire driver Dai Yoshihara earning a victory, taking the Formula Drift championship points lead, and making history as the first Falken Tire driver to win at Evergreen Speedway. You also missed Fredric Aasbo earning his first podium in the Need For Speed Scion tC. Wow, you really missed a lot didn’t you?! Next time you should really make sure you watch our livestream post! The next few rounds should be pretty interesting with Dai Yoshihara taking back the lead from Justin Pawlak who had an early exit in round 5 by losing to Dennis Mertzanis in the Top 32. While that sounds like a major setback for JTP, Dai’s lead is only a measely 15 points (Dai 412, JTP 397) and with two rounds left (Las Vegas and Irwindale) JTP is still very much in the title fight. Not to mention that Chris Forsberg, Darren McNamara, and Matt Powers are all still viable theats for the title should something drastic happen to Dai or JTP during the final rounds. We can’t wait for the next round! Stay tuned to MotorworldHype.com for the Las Vegas Round 6 livestream post.
Formula DRIFT Round 5: Throwdown Results; Daijiro Yoshihara Takes the Victory and the Lead in the Standings
Long Beach, Calif. – July 23, 2011 – Formula DRIFT returned to Evergreen Speedway for Round 5: Throwdown. Daijiro Yoshihara in the Discount Tire / Falken Nissan S13 takes the victory and the lead in the overall Pro Championship points standings. Attendance records were broken as the event reached capacity for the venue.
Round 5: Throwdown reached capacity as fans came in droves to Evergreen Speedway. Attendance was up over 10% from last season continuing the increase in numbers for the Series. Fans were treated to an exciting round of action from the top drivers in the sport.
“The Pacific Northwest has an amazing fan base, which was proven today,” said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “We are excited to see the growth of the sport and the Series this season with a continued increase in attendance at each event.”
The competition heated up with the final four drivers aiming to move closer in their chase for the championship. Fredric Aasbo in the Need For Speed / Scion Racing TC went head to head with Rhys Millen in the Red Bull / Hankook Hyundai Genesis Coupe and edged out the former champion earning third place. The Finals matched up the 2009 champion, Chris Forsberg in the NOS Energy Drink / Hankook Nissan 370Z with Daijiro Yoshihara. Yoshihara took the victory and gained the lead in the Pro Championship point standings and remains the leader with a commanding lead in the Tires.com Triple Crown bonus.
“It feels great to be in the lead,” stated Daijiro Yoshihara, winner of Round 5: Throwdown. “After the Top 32 when Justin Pawlak was taken out of the competition I knew I had a good chance to win, but I didn’t want to think about points and focused on winning one round at a time, which worked! We have 2 competitions left so I need to focus on them still before I can think too much about the championship.”
The Formula DRIFT Championship continues for Round 6: After Dark at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on August 26 – 27. Tickets are available to purchase online.
In the first episode of Team Falken driver Dai Yoshihara’s webseries we get a peek behind the scenes during his pre-season test with his Discount Tire S13 built by the guys at SPD Metalworks. Dai also tries his best to explain drifting. Spoiler: he fails… But its still fun to watch him try! Scroll down and check it out!
The 2011 Formula Drift season kicked off over the weekend on the Streets of Long Beach for Round 1. Many were waiting to see how things would start to pan out with many new cars on the grid as well as new drivers and just as suspected things started off wacky. The biggest talk of the event was 2010 Formula Drift Champ Vaughn Gittin Jr. failing to qualify for the event. During Gittin’s first qualifying run he had a major bobble in the middle of the sweeper which resulted in a very low score of 41. When it was time for his second run he ran the course nearly flawlessly until he reached the hairpin at the end and lost drift. Losing drift once you initiate a turn will automatically get you a big fat 0 from the judges leaving Vaughn only his first score to try to get by on but it wasn’t nearly enough. Many feel that this setback for Vaughn will undoubtedly end any hopes that he will repeat as champion this year due to the nature of Formula Drift’s point system. Time will tell I suppose.
With Vaughn out of the running and Sam Hubinette also bowing out due to engine troubles many were speculating on who would capitalize on the a few of the heavy hitters being absent. Conrad Grunewald qualified 1st and Dai Yoshihara qualified just under him so many felt it would come down to those two in the final battle. However, once the Top 32 competition started the next day Grunewald fell to Chris Forsberg in the Top 16. Dai Yoshihara on the other hand was on a mission. He had never won at Long Beach before and he was looking to change that. Dai took down rookie Aurimas Balchis, Ross Petty, and then Ryan Tuerck to get all the way to the final four where he was pitted against Justin “JTP” Pawlak. The battle between them was fierce and evenly matched. Many were sure the battle would go into a OMT (one more time) but the judges gave the win to JTP to the ire of the thousands watching on the live driftstream. With that, Yoshihara’s hopes of winning Long Beach for the first time were relegated to “next year” although he wasn’t totally out of the show yet. After that battle, Chris Forsberg was lined up against his buddy Matt Powers who was dominating the day in his old but new Need For Speed Nissan S14 240SX now with V8 power. Their battle was equally epic but in the end Matt Powers bested Forsberg to get into the final show down against JTP. This would be the first time either driver would make it into the final show down. While they were preparing to fight for top spot Dai and Chris went head to head in the consolation round for third place where Dai edged out Chris to lock in a bronze for the event.
All that was left was for Powers and Pawlak to fight it out for their first win. When the smoke cleared (literally) it was Justin Pawlak who won the judges favor and took his first ever Formula Drift victory in his Falken Tire Ford Mustang. Despite losing to JTP, Matt Powers had plenty to celebrate as he earned his first podium finish and upgraded his status from “fan favorite privateer” to an official “force to be reckoned with”. While Dai wasn’t able to get a win here the fact that made it to the podium shows the new comers that he isn’t going anywhere soon and is officially in the running for the 2011 Formula Drift Championship title.
With Formula Drift Round 1 in the books all the drivers are now turning towards the south and the next round which will be at Road Atlanta on May 6th-7th. If you can’t make it don’t worry you’ll be able to watch the whole thing live right here as I will have the driftstream posted on MotorworldHype.com for your viewing pleasure.