Amidst screeching tires, revving engines and clouds of smoke, acclaimed drift racer Vaughn Gitten Jr. dazzled crowds Sunday outside the Warrior Way Specialty Store.
Sponsored by Monster Energy and Ford Motor Company, Sunday’s event was a sample exhibition to give Fort Hood a taste of what drifting entails, said Abby Gitten, team manager and wife of Vaughn.
It is a sport that is judged based on skill, unlike a typical car race. Drivers oversteer their cars to drift dangerously close to barricades, driving in dizzying loops to impress audiences.
Fans of all ages posed for photos in front of the rainbow of cars on display, including several in Monster’s signature electric green. T-shirts, posters and calendars were given out, along with free energy drinks. The display was family-friendly, with both children and adults taking turns driving remote control cars and lining the barricades to watch the exhibition.
“I’m excited,” Gitten said before suiting up for the demo. This is the fourth military event this year for Gitten’s team. They previously held exhibitions at Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Lewis, Wash., and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Sunday’s demonstration followed a professional competition Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Gitten and fellow drifter Ryan Tuerck spent four hours showing off their tricks with lucky soldiers riding along as passengers, stopping only for brief intervals to pose for photos and sign autographs.
“I’m an extremely big fan,” said Staff Sgt. Kurt Legnon, who was one of the 14 people randomly selected to ride along with Gitten. He parked his jet black Mustang nearby, hoping Gitten would have a chance to autograph it, calling the opportunity to meet his idol “amazing.”
Sunday’s event was one of the largest the store has held in the past five years, said Ethel Cofield, Warrior Way general manager.