ABOVE Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s ’Stang hits ideways, smoking perfection, thanks to a strong road car platform tweaked and optimized for the role it will perform.
orsepower, grip and steering angle…those are the three
essential elements that go into an excellent drift car
according to 2010 Formula Drift champion Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Horsepower seems fairly obvious – you need a lot of grunt to keep
those wheels spinning. And, of course, steering angle is critical – when
you’re so sideways you’re practically backing into the turn, you’ve
got to have a lot of wheel movement to keep the car moving in the
right direction. But grip? Isn’t the whole purpose of drifting to slide?
Yes. But also...no.
“Our cars have a lot more grip than a lot of road racing cars,”
explains Gittin. “My Monster Energy/Falken Tire Ford Mustang
will pull up the inside front tire during drifts. It’s all about forward
bite and side bite. You want to set up your chassis to have good
weight transfer so that, when you’re on the throttle, you’re
putting the weight on the rear tires.”
A pro-level drift car is purpose built with those three things in
mind, plus safety, adjustability and reliability. To add lightness, every
part that’s not necessary is removed and much of the steel is
replaced with carbon fiber. End result is a car that wouldn’t look at
all out of place lapping a road racing circuit and would perform well in that environment. An amateur drifter, though, can get by with a less-developed machine, notes Gittin. “For just having fun drifting, all you basically need is a rear-wheel-drive car and enough power to keep both tires pinning. You could go to the Ford ealership, get a stock Mustang, disable the traction control and go out and get crazy and have a blast at your local
grass-roots drifting event.”
Because it’s such a good basis for a
drift car as is, Gittin has chosen the
Mustang as his weapon of choice to win
Formula D and international drifting
events. “The Mustang has proven itself
everywhere – drag strip, road course,
touring, drifting. The ease of making
“While the Ford
Mustang has a
big presence, it’s
actually very nimble”