The last seven days have been much like a dream for K&N drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. First came the announcement of a new co-sponsor - Monster Energy - to his program; next, came a huge party at Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory to celebrate that new partnership and to reveal the new 2011 Monster Energy/ Falken Tire Ford Mustang competition car; and finally, came the delicious icing on the lime green Monster-flavored cake: winning Formula Drift Round One at The Streets of Long Beach.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. wins Formula Drift Round One at The Streets of Long Beach
Vaughn Gittin Jr.'s new 2011 Monster Energy / Falken Tire Ford Mustang
Vaughn had only driven his new comp car one time previously before coming out to practice on Friday, so he was very excited to get in the Mustang and blaze through the Long Beach city streets. "Right off the trailer the car felt great," says Vaughn. "I was able to find my line that put me right up against the walls and the new Mustang chassis paired up with the new Falken RT615-K tires gave me the grip I needed to carry good speed throughout the entire course. I was having so much fun!"
Vaughn has been using K&N air and oil filters on his competition cars since the beginning of his professional career seven years ago. "My new 2011 Mustang uses K&N filters just as my previous competition Mustangs did, as well as my personal Mustang," says Vaughn. "The reliability and quality of their products is just incomparable, and lets me go out on the track and really push the car to its limits."
Vaughn Gittin Jr celebrates after winning Formula Drift Round One
And push the Mustang to its limit he did during top 32 qualifying when he threw down a score of 84.7 on his second run that put him in third place overall behind Rhys Millen and Tyler McQuarrie, respectively.
Saturday was a sold-out event with fans packing the stands and crowding the pits. "The vibe at this event every year is electric," says Vaughn. "It seemed like there was always a crowd surrounding the Mustang. The response to the Monster Energy/Falken Tire Ford Mustang has been huge."
Vaughn was paired to go up against Dennis Mertzanis in the battle of the top thirty-two. He put down a solid leading run - mimicking the same line, speed, and angle as he had all weekend - and then put the pressure on hard when following. Vaughn was awarded the win.
He moved in the Sweet Sixteen to face a fellow Mustang driver, Tony Brakohiapa. Vaughn led first and entered turn nine with insane angle, and unfortunately, Tony took it into the tire wall while trying to stay with him. When following, Vaughn ran him pretty hard and stayed tight to his door. The Monster Energy/Falken Tire Ford Mustang was moving on to the Great Eight.
In the top eight, Vaughn met his Drift Alliance bro, Ryan Tuerck, to battle it out. The runs between the two drivers were extremely close, except for one minor correction by Ryan when he straightened up after tapping the wall in the first outer zone. "Tuerck is such a good driver and a great friend; I really enjoy running with him as there are no games - just go out and drive the best you can."
Vaughn moved on to the Final Four, where he faced Fredric Aasbo who had been on fire all day. Vaughn knew this would be a tough battle. He managed to pull away from Aasbo in the quick Supra after the first clip when leading, and then stuck to his door when following. It was close, but Vaughn was awarded the win, and was moving on to the Finals to face Rhys Millen.
Vaughn gave chase first, following Rhys' line. The line was a shallow one however, which made it hard for Vaughn to transition properly. But Vaughn kept the Mustang tight on the Genesis through the course, until Rhys went wide through the hairpin. When it was Vaughn's turn to lead, he knew he had to do something drastic to seal the deal. "I took a big chance and went as fast as possible and threw the car in as hard as I could on the widest line," says Vaughn. He was able to stick it, but Rhys was not and backed it into the tire wall.
When he learned he had officially won, Vaughn jumped out of his car to see the crowd going nuts with cheer, and ran up to the fence in front of the grandstands and began climbing it - until it started getting sketchy and falling down on him!
"What an amazing week it has been," says Vaughn. "First with the announcement of my new partnership with Monster Energy, then the reveal of our new competition car at an awesome party at the Fantasy Factory, and now winning Round One. Everything has fallen into place after months of hard work, and with the season starting on such a good note, I can't wait until Atlanta. Thank you all for the support; you are an integral part to my success and I sincerely appreciate it!"
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