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Drifting with Vaughn Gittin Jr.

Written by Nicole James

Photos courtesy of Vaughn Gittin Jr. 

[dropcap style=”style1″]D[/dropcap]rifting is not the quickest way to get around a track, but there is something inherently exciting about driving on a road course with the car completely sideways to the course and counter-steering in direction of the slide. It’s a delicate balance between the right amount of power applied and the appropriate steering angle so the car doesn’t spin.

Competitive Drifting originated in Japan with the D1 Grand Prix series in 2001. Drifting is a driving style in which the driver tries to keep the car in a condition of oversteer while going from turn to turn. Three years after its debut in Japan, the Formula Drift series launched in the U.S..

LARY7351Vaughn Gittin Jr. is one of the pioneers in drifting in the U.S. and is the only American to win a D1 Grand Prix event twice — and one of those times included the D1GP World Championship. In 2010, he earned his first Formula Drift championship, becoming the second-ever champion with a strictly drifting background. In 2011, Gittin Jr. competed in China’s premier drift series, World Drift Series, and won the championship.

In preparation for Round One of Formula Drift taking place in Long Beach, Gittin Jr. says that he is always working on his skills and is “very focused on working on my mental game and my team is focused on taking our car to the next level.”

When it comes to Gittin Jr.’s favorite part of competitive drifting, surviving the battles is the best part.  “In all seriousness a weekend of competition is one of the most incredible challenges I can imagine.

“It is a constant internal battle as you continue to force yourself into scenarios behind the wheel that your brain and physics are not meant to accept. It is sensory overload and you are using everything you have to make it all come together.

“I love the fact I can show my personality and style behind the wheel and drifting encourages you to be aggressive with your car where many other sports are all about finesse and running the same laps over and over, drifting is something different every lap for the most part.”

LARY4534For drift fans, the tandem battles are some of the most exciting and fun parts to watch. Gittin Jr. says he loves to chase, “Drifting a course is one thing but when you have to do it and anticipate another driver while being on his door is unexplainable. Just an epic feeling.”

When in the tandem as the chase car “don’t run this dude over” is one of the things on Gittin Jr.’s mind. “If you are so focused on being one step ahead of where you currently are there, is nothing else on your mind but that moment. If you have something else on your mind you are in the wall.”

With no other formal motorsports background, Gittin Jr. has applied everything he has learned from skateboarding, to BMX, to racing motorsports and even his own business experience from delivering newspapers to working in information technology has been used to gain car control skills that can translate to just about any form of motorsports behind a wheel. “The feel, control and overall understanding of a vehicles dynamics and making it move the way I want has been gained.”

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