Formula Drift’s first slide into Orlando was bad luck for Mustang drivers
By Steve Turner
Photos by Steve Turner and courtesy of Ford Performance
While some people might be under the impression that we only focus one kind of motorsport, we do, indeed, cover it all on the Front Page. If it involves Ford performance and we can get our cameras into the venue, we are up for giving you a look at it. Case in point is Formula Drift. For years, there’s been a significant Ford presence on the drifting scene, and with the likes of Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Justin Pawlak piloting high-horsepower Mustangs in the series, we were excited when the sanction planned a stop in Orlando, Florida.
“We were happily surprised with the at capacity crowd attendance for our first time at Orlando Speed World,” Jim Liaw, President of Formula DRIFT, said. “Florida has always been a key demographic for the Series and now I think we have found a sweet spot in Central Florida.”
If you aren’t familiar with how drifting works, it’s not the typical auto sport where the quickest or fastest vehicle wins. Instead, drivers slide their vehicles around the course, and they are judged based on how close they follow the prescribed line around the track, how aggressively they angle the car throughout the course, and how much style they exude on a run. Think of it like boxing. You need to execute, but you have to do so in style.
Once the drivers qualify, they are paired in tandems. The first driver out sets the tone for the run and the second driver tries to follow the first driver and out-do them. Then the two cars swap running order and run again, so each driver gets a fair chance to go first. The judges evaluate both runs and elect a winner, who gets promoted to the next round.
In Orlando our Ford representatives, Justin Pawlak and Vaughn Gittin Jr. qualified in the fourth and 13th spots, respectively. They both looked strong early on, but mechanical issues ended Justin’s day in the first round, and Vaughn eventually fell pray to the rainy Florida weather. Had they both advanced, we would have seen an epic Mustang vs. Mustang battle, but it wasn’t to be.
Despite the bad luck for the Mustang drivers, it was still great fun watching the skill of these drivers in piloting Mustangs with huge performance. They can get these cars to maneuver on the absolute edge of traction. Watching these talented drivers slide around the course with a trail of tire smoke behind them really is a thing of high-performance beauty.
At the close of the Orlando event, Ford sat at number three in the manufacturer’s championship points’ chase. Formula Drift brings its display of tire smoke and car control to Wall Speedway in Wall Township, New Jersey, on June 26-27. There are seven more events across the world on the schedule, so if you want to attend one, be sure to check out the schedule here and see if there is one near you.
Formula Drift Orlando 2015 Gallery