Keep Drifting Serious – Vaughn Gittin Jr.
If you’re a hardcore drifting fan like me, I’m sure you’ve heard of the documentary Keep Drifting Fun (KDF). I thoroughly enjoyed the sentiment of the film and love that it captured such a large cultural segment of the drifting world.
Over time, the KDF movement swept the drift community and brought out the passion and lightheartedness of grassroots drifting. Although I initially loved this movement, I noticed a backlash and divide that was created between grassroots drifting and competitive drifting. Don’t get me wrong – drifting “just for fun” is perfectly reasonable for some. Not everyone enters the sport with the end-goal of Formula Drift or with a desire to be judged on their driving in a competitive realm.
On the flipside, there are many folks out there that have dedicated their entire lives to competitive drifting. It seems in recent years there has been a great divide between the grassroots and competitive drifting worlds. So much so that many fans have deemed competitive driving as boring, stupid, not true to the sport or its roots, and many other negative things. I’ve seen many arguments claiming that grassroots drifting keeps drifting fun and that’s all drifting should be.
What many fail to realize is that there is an incredible amount of passion and fun to be had in the competitive realm. Fun and competitive/pro drifting are not mutually exclusive. It’s not a decision between keeping drifting fun and competitive driving. There is not more passion in the grassroots world. The two are just very different. The point of this editorial series is not intended to further divide professional and grassroots drifting, but rather to bring the two together and showcase that there are many similarities in the passion, commitment, and enjoyment levels for those involved in either.
So in an attempt to showcase the passion of the individuals who have dedicated their lives to competitive drifting, I would like to introduce the new editorial series, Keep Drifting Serious.
We have a lineup of some pretty impressive drivers and programs to be featured in this series, but I wanted to start with arguably one of the most successful drift programs in the world – Vaughn Gittin Jr in his Monster Energy Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR and his team. Remember, Vaughn started off in the grassroots world and still does a lot of just-for-fun drift events, so this is a perfect testimony of what the pro world looks like. We chatted with Vaughn for a bit. Check it out:
Some drifting fans say they prefer grassroots drifting because professional drifting lacks style and passion. What are your thoughts on that?
That's the amazing thing about drifting. There are diverse ways to experience it and participate in it. Grassroots drifting lends itself to have some more diversity on the track based on the fact that at those events there is no judging that needs to happen, there is no playing field that needs to be level. Just a bunch of drivers having fun trying new things with an open line, and hitting a freestyle run in his or her car. This is why most of us got into drifting, it was skateboarding with cars essentially. When you add a competition element at the grassroots level and especially at the pro level that free spirit changes. You now have an objective defined by the judging criteria and mistakes have serious consequences so everyone is attempting the same things. Most of us pros have a unique style but there is only so much you can show in a competition. I would simply have to say that grassroots and pro drifting are unique and amazing in their own ways. It's to each's own which they choose to watch/participate in.
Some drift enthusiasts claim that drifting should always be kept “fun”. What are your thoughts on that? In what ways do you consider competitive driving to be fun?
I guess everyone has an opinion of what drifting should be, everyone also has an opinion of what fun is. I think everyone should do what they enjoy most. If you just want to have “fun” great. If you want to chase being the best at competition and that is fun to you great. Competitive drifting is a huge challenge, it's stressful, it's taxing on the mind and body throughout a weekend. The fun comes to those of us that enjoy all of the elements of surviving a competition weekend. Personally, I enjoy both competition and grassroots events and I participate in both.
Take us back 15 years. What did pre-Formula Drift Vaughn Gittin Jr. look like in the drift world? (i.e. what car were you driving, did you have any intention of going pro, etc.).
I had a 240SX with an SR20DET that I built on my back in my garage. I drove to events with my chest on the steering wheel cause I had the back seats replaced with spare wheels and tires. I never thought to go pro when I started drifting, hell I was just excited to get a track that let us drift on it! I was just having a blast hanging with friends and slaying tires. I was hooked and wanted to challenge myself more and more and that drove me to start competing.