The 2006 Need for Speed Formula D Drift Series is Beyond the Limits of Tire Traction

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It’s not about finishing first on the race track, it’s about who has the purest display of car control. Drifting is a very subjective sport. It is almost comparable to free style figure skating with the same objective; scoring the most points from the judges.

Vaughn Gittin Jr. at Long Beach
Vaughn Gittin Jr. at Long Beach
One of the top-seed drift racers in the county is Vaughn Gittin Jr. He is competing in the 2006 Need for Speed Formula D Drift series. The first of seven rounds was held for the first time at Long Beach in April. Gittin and 31 others tried to outdo each other on a piece of asphalt at Seaside Way and Shoreline Drive, part of a race track used by Formula One racers at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“Drifting is about controlling a car at high speed as it slides sideways in a closed and marked course,” said Gittin. “It goes beyond the limits of tire traction, and is precision driving to the max.”

There are three judges in Formula D, they watch for degree of car control, entry speed and general speed, the amount of angle the driver is holding (how far sideways can a car tip?) and clipping points. Crowd reaction is also important, said Gittin.

“One hundred drivers tried to get into the contest at Long Beach, but only 20 were already pre-seeded,” said Gittin. “That left 12 spots to make it to the main day.” Out of the 32, each driver had three single runs. The best run out of the three resulted in a top 16 qualifying score.

Gittin’s Mustang went up against a Viper at Long Beach. “The judges could not decide on a winner and they called a ‘one-more-time’ so we did it again,” said Gittin. “I had the advantage on the first run but developed a transmission problem and did not win.”

Drift Racer Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Drift Racer Vaughn Gittin Jr.
In top tandem drifting a car gets to lead and a car gets to follow, said Gittin. “Cars are 6 inches from each other trying to out drive the person in front of them,” he said.  It's a technical sport, the cars stay very close, sometimes reaching speeds of  100 mph.

Gittin drives a 2005 turquoise and blue Ford Mustang. The 25-year-old Annapolis, Maryland resident said the Mustang suits his style as a self-proclaimed loud and fast driver. K&N Engineering products also suit his style. “I’ve used K&N filters since I got my first car at 16-years-old,” said Gittin. “I washed cars to get the money for my first K&N filter. Since then I’ve used K&N oil and air filters on every car that I’ve owned. K&N is the best.”

Drifting is popular motorsport in Japan. It crossed over to the United States about three years ago. In December 2005, Gittin of Team Falken took top honors in a D1 Grand Prix event becoming the first American to win a D1 event. He also did it in the first American car to win as well. Gittin took out one driver after another in his 650 plus horsepower Mustang. Thirty-two qualifying cars competed in the USA vs. Japan series at the Irwindale, California event. “The Japanese team brought over their top guys,” said Gittin. “They said I would never beat them, but I was fast with my foot on the floor and the smoke flying off my tires. I was able to defeat the champs.”

Drifting is one of the fastest growing motorsports in the world, said Gittin. “It’s all excitement, cars are inches away from each other, sideways, tires are flying off and guys are bumping into each other,” he said. “I’m behind guys and breathing in smoke with rubber particles. But with my K&N filters, my expensive motors don’t drink rubber particles.”

Gittin said drifting has all the excitement the crowd looks for in racing. “At the beginning of the day the crowd is into it and I can feel it,” he said.

The next round of the 2006 Need for Speed Formula D Drift will be in May at Atlanta and will conclude in October at Irwindale.

Follow Vaughn Gittin's progress throughout the racing season at the K&N news site.  Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.

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K&N Engineering, Inc., with headquarters in Riverside, California, has been the world''s leader in performance filter technology since 1969, serving the needs of the automotive, motorcycle, marine, industrial and military markets. K&N is heavily involved in nearly every form of motorsports from off-road and powersports to drag racing, stock cars and road racing. For more information about K&N Filters, please contact K&N Engineering, Inc., P.O. Box 1329, Riverside, CA 92502-1329, (800) 213-4182 for a dealer near you, (800) 858-3333 for technical service/questions, (951) 826-4001 Fax, e-mail, or visit