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LAS VEGAS -- This weekend Formula Drift heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Round 5: After Dark. Vaughn Gittin Jr., driver of the Monster Energy Falken Tire Ford Mustang, is currently at the top of the point standings with only three events left in the season. Gittin talks about heading to Vegas and what he has been doing during the time between rounds.
Q. YOU HEAD INTO VEGAS THIS WEEKEND FIRST IN THE POINT STANDINGS. LAST YEAR YOU MADE IT TO THE GREAT 8. HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND’S EVENT?
A. We’re heading into Vegas, Formula D Round Five and I’m feeling great. Last year in Vegas, I had a pretty big accident where I clipped the wall at about 85 miles per hour and knocked the front corner off the Mustang, but I got back out there. We made it to the top eight. I’m definitely feeling like this year I’ll be able to get out of the top eight and make it to that podium. We’ve got a great points lead and I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’s going to be hot, but luckily our event goes into the evening until about two in the morning so that shouldn’t be a huge factor. Anyone that is out there for Formula D Vegas this weekend should stop by. Ford has given me some pretty cool Mustang 5.0 hats that I’ll be giving out to hopefully as many people who ask for them. I have this huge box that I just threw on the airplane. Stop by say hello and I’ll give you a hat.
Q. HOW DOES THE HEAT AFFECT YOUR DRIFTING?
A. I wouldn’t say it necessarily affects my drifting. Obviously, as a driver sitting in a [fire] suit all day can wear you down being out there for 12 hours in 120 degree weather. When the track is so hot, it gets slick and that can cause inconsistencies. The heat plays a lot of tricks on the track. When it cools down the track tightens back up. That’s one thing that we’re going to have to set the car up for and luckily, we have some practice Thursday and Friday to get used to what the track does throughout the different temperature ranges. Traction is very important in drifting. If you misjudge it you can get into the wall, or hit an opponent, or be a little bit slower than you need to be to be competitive. That’s my main focus going there this weekend, making sure we get the car set up right and fortunately that Mustang chassis is amazing. We have a great engine program with Ford Racing. We should be ready to rock and roll.
Q. IT’S BEEN QUITE A WHILE SINCE ROUND FOUR. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO SINCE THEN?
A. We’ve had some time off between Round Four. I went to Road America and did some demos out there and made some people fall in love with drifting. I’ve been working very hard on this Mustang RTR-X, my collaboration with Need for Speed for SEMA. It’s a ‘69 Mustang that I’m building starting out from a clean slate with a Dynacorn body and powered by a 5.0 liter Ford Racing V-8 engine that will actually debut at the Ford booth at SEMA. I’m excited about that car. It’s going to be a very innovative build and hopefully it’s going to blow the roof off SEMA this year.
Q. LOOKING AT THE PICTURES ON YOUR BLOG, IT LOOKS LIKE IT’S COMING ALONG.
A. It’s pretty neat to see a dream like that come to life. Last year I introduced RTR, which is my dealer package that is dealer-installed. That’s been selling really well. We also introduced the RTR-C. This year we’re taking it back to 1969 and going full-circle and adding my style to a ’69 Mustang. I hope everyone likes it like I do.
Q. YOU WERE ALSO FEATURED ON MTV’S FANTASY FACTORY WITH A SKATEBOARD MUSTANG. HOW DID THAT GO?
A. Rob Dyrdek and I and hooked up for his show ‘Fantasy Factory’ on MTV. We built a skateboard car. I went to Rob with this vision because drifting to me is so much like skateboarding. It’s personality. Its style. You can show yourself behind the wheel just like skaters show themselves on their board. I went to him and said I have this idea that I know will work and he was 100 percent all about it. Being the crazy dude that he is, we just built a car skatepark and we were doing 50/50 grinds, lipslides, boardslides and we just had a blast. It was on his premier episode. You can actually go and watch it on mtv.com they’re showing the full episode, in case you missed it. It was a lot of fun and it was so crazy because it’s been in my head for two years. It worked exactly how I’d pictured it once we got the car built. It was pretty epic and I look forward to having more fun with the skateboard Mustang in the near future. Hopefully in 2011 we’ll bring it out and do something even crazier.
Q. YOU ALSO WENT TO X GAMES A COUPLE WEEKS AGO AND SAW THE FORD FIESTAS IN ACTION. WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?
A. Ken Block is actually a good friend of mine and he invited me out to be his eyes and ears for him. I spotted for him doing the Super Rally. I’ve been going out there with him for the last couple of years. It’s a lot of fun. I’m an action sports kid and I’ve always been into it so to be there and be in the mix was really cool. I also did a bit of checking out the Rally and Rallycross. It’s something I’m interested in. Rallycross is coming to America, so it’s something that I might crossover into. Drifting is my passion and my priority but I think that I can be competitive in Rallycross and also have some fun. I come from a motocross background and obviously drifting and Rallycross seems to have both of those elements intertwined in it. All in all, it was incredible to see those Fiestas out there. They’re little rocket ships and everyone Ken [Block], Tanner [Foust], and [Brian] Deegan we’re out there driving them. They said they were a blast so I’m looking forward to possibly getting behind the wheel of one and see how fun they really are.