Today (January 13th, 2024) RTR Vehicles opened up its operations in Concord, NC to celebrate its first Formula D championship, as well as the first Formula D championship for the Ford Mustang. This was a very special year for RTR for a variety of reasons. After taking a year off, RTR President and Chief Fun-Haver Vaughn Gittin Jr. decided to rejoin the team, which also added hot-shoe James Deane – the Irish giant who owns three consecutive Formula D championships from 2017 to 2019. The two joined YouTuber Adam LZ and RTR stalwart Chelsea Denofa as a four-driver, four-Mustang team. But not just any Mustang, a brand-new S650 that was delivered just in time to make this season.
As noteworthy as the new drivers and new cars are, they pale in comparison to the fact that this would be Denofa’s final and most successful season of his career. The last four years, in fact, have been quite successful – finishing second in 2020, and fourth in 2021 and 2022 before securing the 2023 Formula D championship. He’s been drifting for 20 years and during today’s ceremony, he was a little emotional about being able to go out on a high note. Denofa didn’t give anything away when it comes to his future, but it seems very possible we could see him behind the wheel of some other vehicles, in other forms of motorsport and doing some very exciting things.
The day’s proceedings included a Mustang car show on RTR’s drift pad, autograph signings, sim racing and drifting, food and games, and (my favorite) a drift circuit on Taxi Garage electric carts. The day concluded with an exclusive viewing of a documentary covering the entire season, including James Deane’s bad crash at Irwindale and triumphant return with a broken collarbone, Adam LZ’s first-ever Formula D win and the rapid development of the new 2024 Monster Energy Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-D. Of note, the majority of the car is carbon fiber which RTR molds themselves and although all four cars are similarly-built, Deane’s Mustang is actually right-hand drive which presented some unique challenges to add a degree of difficulty with a tight timeline.
With Jarod DeAnda MC’ing, the team bid its adieu and sincere gratitude to all those who came to celebrate. Gittin Jr. lead the way by sharing how far RTR has come, from the teal and blue S197 that was laughed at in a sea of Japanese competitors to a four-person team that dominated each event. Here’s to another W for Team Mustang!