27 November 2009|
|ALL STAR STATUS|
|Vaughn Gittin Jr.|
When it comes to drifting in North America, no company has been more influential than Falken – period. The name is synonymous with the sport because the foresight and resources they have invested are unparalleled! Although it was not the first event, I think the turning point for drifting in the US was at the Falken Drift Showoff on March 2, 2003. The Irwindale Raceway venue was expecting 2,500 people but when nearly 10,000 showed up they had to turn many away. It was clear at this point the sport of drifting had been cemented into the car culture of SoCal and would gradually spread throughout North America. Although this drifting demo only had three pro D1 drivers not competing against each other, the crowd went into a frenzy and it has been contagious ever since.
The coveted 18-34 male demographic was hyped about the explosive new form of motorsport. This generation was latched onto anything that was coming out of Japan and getting sideways in the mountains has been a leisure activity for Japanese youth for decades. Drifting was unlike doing burnouts in a parking lot, it was extreme car control while seemingly out of control. The sport had all of the elements needed and incorporated the best of what motorsports had to offer: billowing smoke, screeching tires, reckless moves and of course lots of crashes! The kind of stuff that make fans of other motorsports rise to their feet and cheer. Falken knew this well in advance of many other aftermarket manufacturers doing business in the US and their product was the main focus. Burning tires up only meant good things for the company and that is why the Falken name continues to dominate the drifting scene here.
The top brass at Falken understood that shredding up tires in drift competition would equate to better sales and priceless brand exposure. They also figured out supporting a sport enthusiasts love translates to respect among tuners and quickly lead to fans considering their brand when shopping for tires from Falken’s massive applications list.
By carefully selecting the right drivers in the hottest cars, Falken appeals to many fans at events and in the number of TV and DVD broadcasts of the motorsport. All of the mass market appeal of their efforts were fully realized in April of 2004, when the Formula Drift series was born. Despite tough times and obstacles, Falken has stuck with Formula Drift and built a solid reputation. Today they are a force to be reckoned with by inking deals with some of the top drivers around and building machines that not only caught attention on the track, but took their talent onto the podium event after event.
Falken’s efforts and true dedication have really paid off in many ways but none more important than their recent accomplishment during Formula D Round 3 at Wall Speedway in New Jersey. Dubbed “The Gauntlet” by series organizers, the unforgiving track has claimed dozens of cars into its menacing walls. The tricky transitions and banked surfaces equate to a track that it difficult to drift solo never mind in tandem. However, the tandem battles ensued and Falken drivers battled through mechanical problems, deep-sixed former champions and took their game to a whole new level. Despite almost losing their star driver Vaughn Gittin Jr. to mechanical problems, the remaining members and their crew forged through anything the fierce competition could throw at them. In the end, it paid off in copious amounts of praise for the team, as their first ever sweep on a Formula D podium. Irishman Darren McNamara in the Falken Saturn Sky won over teammate Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the legendary Falken Mustang who graciously took second spot. The third and final place would be decided in a heated tandem battle between young superstar Ken Gushi versus Tyler McQuarrie in the V8-powered Falken 350Z. With McQuarrie victorious, history was rewritten by Team Falken. A win this big doesn’t come easy, as every Falken driver, car and crew earned this victory over their years of Formula D competition. Their all-star line up of drivers and high performance drift cars are committed, dedicated and proven professionals who represent the scene (and Falken brand) to the fullest.
Drifting has rapidly become a cornerstone of racing in the USA and throughout the world. Falken has built its reputation on the momentum of the sport as well as the tires its teams run on to make it a household name among enthusiasts and fans. Falken has invested heavily to reach the right customers and put their tire brand ahead of some competitors at least in the tuner market. The plan was to introduce an entire younger generation to what the Falken brand is all about. The bold racing colors of teal and blue are instantly recognizable, as are their always stunning umbrella girls. The Falken models have been winning over fans for years and even launched a few careers in the process. The results speak for themselves as Falken has not only left their mark on the drift world, but cemented the now recognizable Falken brand thanks to their supportive contribution to put drifting where it is today and where it will be tomorrow.
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