Can you believe Formula Drift is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year? The 2023 season kicks off tomorrow, April 7 on the streets of Long Beach, California. However, the new sideways kid on the block—the 2024 Ford Mustang RTR drift car—has already proven its mettle on Long Beach asphalt and we’re here with some intense details.
Partially unveiled earlier this week, the 2024 Mustang RTR Spec 5-FD, to use its full name, employs a nitrous-fed V8 that allows drivers to control no less than 1,300 hp via a sequential gearbox.
Who are those drivers, you ask? Team owner Vaughn Gittin Jr. is sharing a car with YouTuber Adam LZ (have you seen his four-rotor Mk V Supra spare-time drift car?), so both of them can also pursue other adventures throughout the year. Naturally, each gets a dedicated livery, with the latter having chosen a dominant shade inspired by the Blue Ember launch color of the production Mustang Dark Horse.
Then there’s the multi-shade blue and orange car of three-time Formula Drift champion James Deane, as well as the mostly-yellow vehicle manhandled by Chelsea DeNofa.
Spins and a bit of crash damage? It’s all part of the 2024 Mustang RTR’s Formula Drift routing
During the competition, all these slip angle masters make it look easy with their door-to-door chases and other stunts. However, the drivers have to start getting the feel of the new car at Long Beach somewhere and this is precisely what we have here.
To be more precise, we’ve seen both Adam LZ and James Deane beating the hell out of their S650 ponies earlier this week. The athletes had to sort out details like the rev range where the nitrous “rounds out” the V8 muscle and the all-important front-rear grip balance, among others.
Of course, with no markers… or tire marks on the course, judging one’s entry point can be a complicated stunt, as Adam LZ points out in the YouTube video below. As you can imagine, though, this didn’t get in the way of these pros going from the crowd favorite which is the wall kiss.
Hey, Adam LZ’s shenanigans even resulted in a bit of rear-end damage. However, panels flying off is the natural FD way, and sometimes drivers aren’t even worried when the crash bars underneath get bent, which didn’t seem to be the case here.
If you’re looking for the main points of the clip, you may wish to see photo and video master Larry Chen in his Mk V Supra chase car at 1:09, James Deane at 2:17, and, of course, Adam LZ kicking off the sideways stuff at 7:09. He and DeNofa got into a… tandem spin (9:00 point), but there was zero contact between their vehicles.
Alas, Adam LZ got into a pretty serious crash with his 2024 Mustang RTR drift car during qualifying, but he was able to get back into the competition on the same day.
There’s also a perfectly executed wall kiss in the Instagram clip at the bottom of the page, with this coming from motorized ballet dancer James Deane.
Formula Drift initiating Hall of Fame for 2023
Remember kids: they’ve doubled the money prizes for each round of Formula Drift 2023—the Pro champion gets a$50,000 reward. However, long before we get to see who takes the title, Long Beach will welcome a Formula Drift monument that will sport the name of each Hall of Fame inductee (also a novelty for this year).