Deep in the heart of Nascar country, Vaughn Gittin Jr is at his shop, Ready to Rock in Charlotte, North Carolina, making tweaks to his Mustang. And we aren’t talking about any ordinary tweaks to any ordinary Mustang — we are talking about his drift specific Ford Mustang RTR; 950 horses worth of pure drift madness. Read on to find out what makes Gittin Jr’s Mustang an incredible drift vehicle, and worthy of the pony car’s iconic badge.
For the uninitiated, Vaughn Gittin Jr is a drifting legend. Self taught, with an aggressive, smoky, lead-footed, all-American style, Gittin Jr. is the only American to win a D1 Grand Prix event, which he has done twice. He’s competed all over the world at drift competitions, beating drivers from the home of drifting in the D1 Grand Prix USA vs. Japan event, and taking home the championship in China’s premier drift series, the WDS. In fact, he can do more than drift and has even competed in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
For those unenlightened souls who haven’t see The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, we’ll break down the sport for you. Drifting is basically linking turns through controlled oversteer; a driver will get as much speed going as they can heading into a corner and then, often using the handbrake, will throw the back end of the car out resulting in a slide. Once the back of the car is sliding, the driver will balance their steering and throttle to control the vehicles angle as well as its speed. And while conventional wisdom might suggest that a vehicle with a loose rear axle would be the optimal set-up, in reality a tighter rear axle and a ton of grip is the best set-up for drifting. Which brings us to Vaughn Gittin Jr’s Mustang.
Vaughn Gittin Jr has been driving Mustangs for over 10 years and basically introduced American muscle cars into the world of drifting — although V8s are fairly common now in drifting thanks to their wide torque curves. Gittin Jr’s Mustang RTR is an absolute beast; a Roush Yates 436 Mustang that clocks over 950 horsepower, running a four-speed dog-box transmission that would be completely at home in a stock car. Gittin Jr says that his Mustang, “revs all day to 9,000 rpm,” but what makes it so perfect for drifting is the wide torque band with a “4,500 rpm window” of power. The majority of the work done to the Mustang lies in the suspension however, and while they retain the S550’s MacPherson strut-based suspension, they have custom built an inverted coilover with in-house, machine billeted uprights and control arms. Not only does this help the wheels clear the frame when they are locked, but it gives the front tires an incredible 71 degrees of steering angle. This particular model is also the first time that Vaughn Gittin Jr has driven with an independent rear suspension as opposed to alive axle, giving him even more control over the vehicle. Gittin Jr notes that, “a car with flexible handling is a more capable car to drive,” and the independent rear suspension allows for unparalleled handling on the track — even when that is handling the car sideways.
Vaughn Gittin Jr has had an enormous impact on the sport of drifting, especially in North America. His tenacity and ingenuity on the track and in the shop is one of the main reasons he is a Ford ambassador, and one of the main reasons he has his own modified Mustang RTR available through select dealers around the world. If you’re interested in learning more about Vaughn Gittin Jr, or the Ford Mustang, come by Team Ford and talk to one of our sales specialists.