RTR Propels Ford to the Top of the Formula Drift Championship

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Vaughn Gittin Jr Drifting Ford Mustang

Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Chelsea DeNofa drove their Ford Mustang drift cars to the final four in Orlando.

Vaughn Gittin Jr. played a key role in putting Ford on the map in the world of Formula Drift, so it comes as little surprise that his RTR Motorsports team has helped put the Motor Company atop the manufacturer’s championship standings early in the 2019 season. After having a rough start at the season opener in Long Beach, Gittin and teammate Chelsea DeNofa bounced back in the second event, working through an early crash to hold two of the four positions in the semifinals.

Both Mustang drift cars lost their semifinal run, but in claiming two of the top four finishing spots, RTR Motorsports has set up themselves and the Motor Company to a championship run in 2019.

A Rough Start

To open the season, the RTR Motorsports Mustang drivers qualified in the middle of the field, with DeNofa starting in the ninth spot while Gittin qualified 11th. They both won their first round matchups, with each of the Ford racers beating Nissan racers, but they both lost their second round race against different Nissan drift cars.

Vaughn Gittin Jr Drifting Ford Mustang

The team came into the Orlando event looking to improve on the second round departure in the first event, but things looked bleak early when Gittin crashed his Mustang during the final practice session ahead of the Top 32 elimination rounds. However the RTR team hustled to get the car back in running order, essentially saving the race day for Gittin and Ford Racing.

Battling Back

Once the Ready-To-Rock team got Gittin, Jr.’s Mustang back into running order, he made the most of the opportunity to pile up points. He beat the Dodge Viper of Dean Kearney in the first round, the Toyota Corolla of Fredric Aasbo in the second round and the Nissan S14 of Forrest Wang in the third round to meet Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis and his S14 in the semifinals.

Vaughn Gittin Jr Drifting RTR Ford Mustang

Meanwhile, DeNofa knocked off the Cadillac ATS of Taylor Hull in the first round, the Chevrolet Corvette of Matt Field in the second round and the Nissan S15 of Piotr Wiecek in the third round, setting up a semifinal battle with Chris Forsberg and his Nissan 370Z.

Gittin and DeNofa both lost in their semifinal matchup, but that strong finish helped moved Ford into the top spot in the Formula Drift Auto Club (manufacturer’s) championship.

This weekend we really came into our new cars with respect to all the major changes we made in the off season” said Gittin, Jr. “Between round one and this weekend’s battles we defined what our new refined suspension and new tires need to excel in the heat of competition.”

The next Formula Drift event will be held on May 9 through the 11 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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"Before I was old enough to walk, my dad was taking me to various types of racing events, from local drag racing to the Daytona 500," says Patrick Rall, a lifetime automotive expert, diehard Dodge fan, and respected auto journalist for over 10 years. "He owned a repair shop and had a variety of performance cars when I was young, but by the time I was 16, he was ready to build me my first drag car – a 1983 Dodge Mirada that ran low 12s. I spent 10 years traveling around the country, racing with my dad by my side. While we live in different areas of the country, my dad still drag races at 80 years old in the car that he built when I was 16 while I race other vehicles, including my 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and my 1972 Dodge Demon 340.

"Although I went to college for accounting, my time in my dad’s shop growing up allowed me the knowledge to spend time working as a mechanic before getting my accounting degree, at which point I worked in the office of a dealership group. While I was working in the accounting world, I continued racing and taking pictures of cars at the track. Over time, I began showing off those pictures online and that led to my writing.

"Ten years ago, I left the accounting world to become a full-time automotive writer and I am living proof that if you love what you do, you will never “work” a day in your life," adds Rall, who has clocked in time as an auto mechanic, longtime drag racer and now automotive journalist who contributes to nearly a dozen popular auto websites dedicated to fellow enthusiasts.

"I love covering the automotive industry and everything involved with the job. I was fortunate to turn my love of the automotive world into a hobby that led to an exciting career, with my past of working as a mechanic and as an accountant in the automotive world provides me with a unique perspective of the industry.

"My experience drag racing for more than 20 years coupled with a newfound interest in road racing over the past decade allows me to push performance cars to their limit, while my role as a horse stable manager gives me vast experience towing and hauling with all of the newest trucks on the market today.

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Rall can be contacted at [email protected]

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