Track temperatures reached 145 degrees under the hot desert sun when Vaughn Gittin Jr., hit the wall in his 2010 Ford Mustang, photo by John Choi, provided by Falken Tires
Gittin though he could drive to the pits after he hit the wall, then realized his 2010 Ford Mustang was on two wheels, photo by John Choi, provided by Falken Tires
Teamwork in the Falken Tires pits readied the 2010 Mustang for competition at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, photo by John Choi, provided by Falken Tires
Vaughn Gittin Jr., returned to drift action at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in his repaired 2010 Ford Mustang, photo by John Choi, provided by Falken Tires
Vaughn Gittin Jr., pushed through the pain and went back on the track in the Formula Drift Pro Championship chase
Vaughn Gittin Jr. made it to the qualifying line with only 10 seconds to go after repairs were executed on his 2010 Ford Mustang, photo by John Choi, provided by Falken Tires
Gittin went to Round 4 of Formula Drift action expecting a good run. The Falken team just came off a second place podium finish at The Gauntlet in New Jersey. “Thursday night we had an incredible practice, the car was awesome,” said Gittin. “The track temperature on Friday in Nevada was at least 145 degrees and it caught us off guard.”
Before qualifying began, Gittin hit the wall hard and tore the right front corner off his Mustang. “The front right wheel took the impact,” he said. “All I saw was an explosion of parts. Everything ripped off the front corner of the car, the shock, springs and wheels. I was in the zone at the time and it all happened in slow motion.”
Gittin had about two seconds to react and did everything he could to get the car to change direction. “I tried to transition back away from the wall but I could not,” he said. “When everything stopped and I knew I was okay, I thought about driving back to the pits and then realized I was only on two wheels.”
Fortunately the safety equipment on the Falken Ford Mustang did its job. “My back is sore and my neck is sore,” he said. “It was the hardest hit of my career. I just blocked the accident out of my mind and knew I had to get back out on the track. We’re so close to the championship anything else would not be imaginable.”
The entire Falken Team, along with assistance from Autosport Dynamics pitched in to completely rebuild the front end of the Mustang in two hours. Teamwork and dedication paid off which led to salvation. “We got up to the qualifying line with only 10 seconds to go,” said Gittin. ‘If it had been five seconds later we would not have been able to compete. We were able to advance to the top 16, but one of the tires caught a piece of debris and that hurt us.”
At the end of the day, Gittin remained 4th overall in points and only 43 points away from first place. Gittin's Drift Alliance teammate Chris Forsberg moved to top position overall in the chase for the Formula Drift Pro Championship.
Gittin has put his heart and soul into this sport. He also used K&N products long before starting his professional career. “I read all the flow charts and realized K&N was the best for me because of the abuse I put my cars through,” he said. “When I’m in a cloud of smoke on the track, it’s not just smoke. That cloud is filled with rubber parts and without K&N air filters my motors would be damaged. K&N oil filters also keep metal debris out of my engines.”
The 2010 Ford Mustang is on its way to North Carolina for repairs. “By the next drift it will be ready to go,” said Gittin. Formula DRIFT returns to Evergreen Speedway near Seattle, Washington August 7-8.
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