Ford has already had involvement with the steadily growing sport, through its support of Team Falken Tire and drivers like two-time D1 Grand Prix champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. Ford says the move is part of an effort to reach an alternative buyer, aged 18 to 34, and interested in cars like the Fiesta, Focus, Mustang or F-150 SVT Raptor.
According to Formula Drift co-founder and vice president Ryan Sage, "Ever since Ford came into the series competitively in 2005, we have seen the power of what a factory-backed effort can do... Now we are even more excited to have them on as an official partner for the final event of the year and into 2013."
The final event to which Sage is referring is the "Title Fight," the finale of the 2013 season, recently held in Irwindale, CA. It is the home of the first sanctioned drifting event in 2003. Ford joined the sport in 2005, and had its first win at Irwindale with Gittin at the wheel in 2008. With factory works teams like Hyundai backing out, the increased commitment from Ford comes at at an important time for the sport. Click below for the press release, which also provides a link to watch the season finale live.
-Ford Motor Company announces its official sponsorship of Formula DRIFT through the 2013 season
-Professional drifting is a major part of Ford's outreach to new audiences that are interested in emerging action motorsports
-The Formula DRIFT finale will be streamed live on www.FormulaD.com/live Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13
IRWINDALE, Calif., October 12, 2012 – Ford is expanding its involvement in professional drifting competition by becoming an official partner of Formula DRIFT and the 2013 Formula DRIFT championship.
"Our involvement with Formula DRIFT is not new, but we are taking it to the next level with this announcement," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. "Enthusiasts can now see our great Mustangs on the track with great drivers like Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Justin Pawlak, and they'll get a better chance to interact with our stars as well as our exciting production vehicles off track through consumer outreach at all the events. Formula DRIFT is a major part of our action motorsports program targeting new audiences for Ford."
Ford has actively supported the professional drifting efforts of Team Falken Tire and drivers including Gittin, Pawlak and others since 2005. Two-time D1 Grand Prix champion Gittin won the 2010 Formula DRIFT championship at the wheel of a Mustang GT and leads the 2012 series going into this weekend's finale. Pawlak, the 2011 Formula DRIFT series runnerup, won the first two rounds in 2012 and currently sits fourth – 70 points behind Gittin.
Initially popularized by fans of import sport compacts, professional drifting has taken root with a younger, more active audience that's interested in nontraditional, emerging motorsports. Formula DRIFT estimates 87 percent of its fan base is 18 to 34 years old. Ford involvement in Formula DRIFT is a significant part of the company's outreach to this group that might consider a Ford vehicle like the Fiesta, Focus, Mustang or Raptor.
Drifting is one of many nontraditional approaches Ford is using to reach new customers including social network conversations, soliciting user-generated content through programs like Fiesta Movement and Social.Ford.com, cross-platform marketing programs like Random Acts of Fusion, and the Octane Academy experiential program featuring Gittin, Ken Block, Brian Deegan and Tanner Foust.
"Ever since Ford came into the series competitively in 2005, we have seen the power of what a factory-backed effort can do," said Ryan Sage, co-founder/vice-president, Formula DRIFT. "Now we are even more excited to have them on as an official partner for the final event of the year and into 2013."
The finale of the 2012 season of the Formula DRIFT championship is taking place this weekend at Irwindale Speedway (east of Los Angeles) on October 12-13, 2012 for the final event of its ninth season. The Mustangs of Gittin and Pawlak are both in contention for the championship. The Formula DRIFT championship event will be broadcast live on www.FormulaD.com/live Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13.
Ford Formula DRIFT competition highlights:
2005-2007 – Ford Racing uses an entry in Formula DRIFT for an engine development program for supercharged 4.6-liter V8 crate engines; Mustang driver Ken Gushi wins first-ever Formula DRIFT event for Mustang (Houston)
2008 – Ford Racing shifts its technical and product support to the Team Falken Tire's drift program, featuring Vaughn Gittin Jr.'s teal and blue Mustang; driving his Mustang, Gittin wins Formula DRIFT season finale (Irwindale)
2010 – Gittin introduces Monster Energy to Team Falken Tire and Formula DRIFT, securing partner support; wins two Formula DRIFT events (Long Beach, Infineon) and earns six podium finishes in seven events on his way to Formula DRIFT championship; Pawlak joins Team Falken as the driver of that program's teal and blue Mustang
2011 – Pawlak rides Team Falken Tire Mustang to two Formula DRIFT victories (Long Beach, Road Atlanta) before finishing as the series runnerup just 5.75 points behind first place
2012 – Both Pawlak (Long Beach, Road Atlanta) and Gittin (New Jersey, Washington) score two wins each for Mustang before entering the season finale at Irwindale, sitting fourth and first in the championship, respectively, setting Mustang on the podium at five of the six Formula DRIFT events
2005-2012 – Mustang has earned one Formula DRIFT championship, 10 Formula DRIFT event wins and a total of 22 podium finishes