Nurburg, Germany - For obvious reasons, drifting around the Nurburgring isn’t allowed; it’s usually crowded with drivers of varying capabilities, all going as fast as they can, so there just isn’t room to throw it safely sideways.
But once in a while somebody like champion drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr pitches up with his 660kW Ford Performance 5.0 Aluminator XS powered Ford Mustang RTR, and rules tend to get broken - or at least badly bent.
“The Nordschleife is one of the most iconic circuits in the world,” he said, “I’ve been in love with the danger and folklore of the ‘Green Hell’ since I can remember. I went there in 2013 and promised myself then that one day I would come back to drift all the way round.
“That, to me, is the ultimate challenge: a lot of people question whether it’s possible and whether the car would survive - so I had to find out.”
Some drivers have drifted sections of the Nordschleife, including two drivers doing drift demos during a race weekend, but Gittin was the first to try drifting the whole 20.7 kilometre lap.
His RTR Mustang’s five-litre V8 has a Vortech JL Trim supercharger and is capable of 515-660kW, depending on its state of tune. Just as important, the front suspension has been modified to increase its steering lock to 65 degrees, which is how Gittin can throw the car almost completely sideways and still retain a modicum of control.
But that didn’t mean it was easy
“I didn’t know the ‘Ring’ nearly as well as I thought I did,” Gittin admitted afterwards. “Everything changes when you’re going sideways at those speeds - I was out of my comfort zone for the most of the hot laps.”
For Gittin, the goal was “a good time, not a lap time” - but he still hit the rev limiter in top gear at 241km/h on the sideways entry to some of the faster corners, and shredded three sets of Nitto rear tyres on each lap full-tilt boogie lap.
“When we stopped for the first tyre change I had to catch my breath,” he said. “That’s something I haven’t experienced behind the wheel since I was a rookie. You won’t see it on the video but I scared myself a bunch of times.”
He also wrote off a drone during filming.
“My favourite shot of the video is the 360 into shooting the drone with rocks, it just could not get any more perfect,” he said. “But the craziest part is the jump on Pflanzgarten. The speed of that whole section was intense and as soon as the car landed I had to flick it hard sideways to slow down for the sharp right hander - there was zero margin for error.
“Damn that was crazy.”