Vaughn Gittin Jr. competed in Round 1 of World Drift Series (WDS) over the weekend, China’s premiere drifting series. With help of Autosport Dynamic’s Ian Stewart and Dean Steele, as well as Adam Browne of Revolution Automotive, the Monster Energy Falken Tire 2013 Ford Mustang RTR was ready for battle against drivers from around the world. It wasn’t an easy feat, but Vaughn and the Mustang came out on top, starting of the season as the WDS points leader and dedicating this earned win to the recently passed but never-forgotten legend, Carroll Shelby.
Over fifty thousand fans filled north China's Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium for this heavily anticipated drifting event. One noted spectator in attendance and a new fan of drifting was former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox and his wife Martha Fox. The three-hour action-packed event did not disappoint, with acts such as fire breathing clowns, an amazing light show, professional dancers, and more to fill downtime between the drifting excitement.
“The local talent in China has gotten really good and there was some insanely close and challenging battles on the track,” says Vaughn Gittin Jr. “This event was truly amazing; the production and time WDS put into everything around it was so impressive. It was like we were at the Super Bowl of drifting. There is nothing like a crowd of over 50,000 on their feet in an Olympic stadium cheering for you. It is epic to see how huge drifting is growing globally!”
After defeating his competitors in the top 32 and top 16 battles, Vaughn moved into the great eight. He was matched with fellow Formula Drift driver, Fredric Aasbo, for one of the most exciting battles of the night that resulted in a one-more-time. After the OMT, Vaughn was deemed the winner and would move into the semi-finals.
Vaughn was matched with Chinese driver Zhang Sheng Jun in the semi-finals, and after an evenly-matched battle, a OMT was determined by the judges. Vaughn really dug in for the OMT to let there be no confusion in the eyes of the judges this time around. He took the win and would be moving on to the finals.
In the finals, Vaughn met Taiwanese driver and D1 Grand Prix veteran, Feng Ren Zhi. The competitors had a first battle that was too close to call, and went to a OMT. Vaughn was able to take advantage and the win after his opponent had a mechanical failure.
After being formally announced the winner, the Chinese, Hong Kong, and international media swarmed Vaughn. He also took part in a jam-packed press conference, giving a very heartwarming speech: "I would like to dedicate this to win to a very special man that we lost recently, someone I had the opportunity to meet just a few times, and someone that was a true inspiration to me personally and to the automotive world as a whole. That man is Carroll Shelby. He is someone that always did what he wanted to do no matter what anyone thought and I know he would be proud to know we are drifting Mustangs in Olympic stadiums here in China and bringing home a huge first place trophy back to the USA!"
Along with an individual points Championship there was a Team Drift competition before the start of the event. Vaughn was part of Team USA, alongside fellow American Formula Drift drivers, Chris Forsberg and Matt Powers. Matt, Chris, and Vaughn came out on top, with New Zealand in second, and the Chinese drivers in third.
“Despite some serious jet lag, lack of sleep, and other unexpected hurdles we were faced with, I am really pumped on the team effort that resulted in a huge win for us,” says Vaughn. “I am very thankful to have such incredible and unconditional support from the ASD crew and nothing but pure passion and commitment could overcome what we as a team endured over the weekend.”