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Formula Drift Champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. Takes on Trans Am Racing At Road America

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Vaughn Gittin Jr.

K&N air filters sponsored Vaughn Gittin Jr. began his professional drifting career over ten years ago driving his personal Nissan S13 240SX

K&N air filters sponsored Vaughn Gittin Jr. began his professional drifting career over ten years ago. The self-taught American drifter came from humble beginnings driving his personal Nissan S13 in Formula Drift. The switch to a Ford Mustang in 2005 brought the Maryland native much notoriety and sponsors such as Ford Racing, Monster Energy drinks, Nitto Tires and K&N air filters. The sport of Drifting employs a technique where the driver intentionally loses traction in the rear wheels while maintaining control through counter-steering. Drifting is a delicate dance along a fine line separating control and chaos. Car control is one of the most important ingredients in racing, and Formula Drift drivers know how to control a car at speed; even if it doesn’t appear that way.

Trans-Am series racing

The rebirth of American muscle cars, like the Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, & Ford Mustang, has reinvigorated interest in the Trans-Am series racing formed in the 1960’s Pony Car era

The fundamental elements shared between professional drifting and road course racing are the same. However, it was quite a change of pace for Vaughn Gittin Jr. as he made his first attempt to apply skills learned from drifting into a 100MPH Trans Am race with 70+ competitors clogging a challenging road course. Vaughn Gittin Jr. had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a highly-tuned, and K&N filters equipped, Ford Mustang on the historic Road America track and compete in the Trans-Am TA2 class.

Vaughn Gittin Jr. Trans-Am TA2 Ford Mustang

After spending some time becoming familiar with the Trans-Am TA2 Ford Mustang, Vaughn Gittin Jr. qualified with a time of 2 minutes 17.745 seconds making him 13th out of 29 TA2 cars

The rebirth of American muscle cars, like the Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and the ever present Ford Mustang, has reinvigorated interest in Trans-Am racing series which was formed at the dawn of the 1960’s Pony Car era. Like the American Muscle Car, the Trans-Am production based racing series experienced its golden age in the late 60’s until 1972 when manufacturer support of the series ended. Eventually Trans-Am racing moved away from production car racing, into purpose-built racing machines with tube frames. TA2 cars, like the Mustang that Vaughn Gittin Jr. raced, are high-performance purpose built machines, but the SCCA has put cost control measures in place to make it relatively affordable.

“Months ago, when Peter Stark began convincing me to do this, all he had to say ‘600-horsepower Mustang Trans Am car’ and I was in!” said Gittin. “In addition to drifting all over the world, I’ve done some Time Attack, Mustang Challenge, and one NASCAR road racing event, but testing the Trans Am TA2 car was actually the first time that road racing ‘clicked’ for me. I have some internal brain programming and instincts to adjust - like not reaching for the hand brake at corner entry - but the car control I have learned from drifting seems to translate very well to road racing, especially in a Trans Am car.”

Vaughn Gittin Jr. finishes fifth out of 29 Trans-Am TA2

Vaughn Gittin Jr. finished fifth out of 29 Trans-Am TA2 drivers which was fantastic considering Vaughn Gittin Jr was still feeling the effects of having totaled his Mustang drift car

“I am super-pumped to be participating in my first Trans Am race this weekend.” Vaughn continued. “Big thanks to everybody at Loshak and Stark Racing for the opportunity, Mike Cope Race Cars for building such fast TA2 cars, and all my partners for supporting me on my Trans Am debut.” After spending some time becoming familiar with the Trans-Am TA2 Ford Mustang it was time for qualifying. Vaughn Gittin Jr. qualified with a respectable time of 2 minutes 17.745 seconds which put him 13th out of 29 TA2 cars.

A lot can happen in the final race though; as was evidenced by the final results. In qualifying Vaughn Gittin Jr’s pace was 3 seconds off of the TA2 fast qualifier. If that kind of pace continued for the entire Trans Am Next Dimension 100 race at Road America, Vaughn Gittin Jr. would have been minutes behind the TA2 leader. Instead Gittin drove his car wisely moving past several of his competitors. At the checkers, Vaughn Gittin Jr had moved his way up to fifth place. Trans-Am TA2 class winner Tony Ave, also in a Ford Mustang, made his way from 9th to finish a mere .31 seconds ahead of TA2 fast qualifier Cameron Lawrence. Instead of being minutes behind the TA2 winner, Vaughn was only about 8 seconds behind in fifth. Finishing fifth out of 29 more experienced Trans-Am drivers is more than just respectable; it’s fantastic considering Vaughn Gittin Jr was still feeling the effects of having totaled his Monster Energy Ford Racing Mustang RTR drift car the weekend before at Formula Drift in Texas.


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