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Revving Up: Formula Drift Driver Ben Hobson’s Road to Team RTR

FORMULA DRIFT DRIVER BEN HOBSON – THE JOURNEY TO TEAM RTR

From his early days tearing up dirt tracks to becoming Formula DRIFT PROSPEC Champion, Ben Hobson has navigated the twists and turns of motorsports with unmatched enthusiasm.

His evolution from a young dirt biker to a seasoned drift driver showcases Hobson’s commitment to excellence and his continuous quest to reach the highest level of drifting. With a passion for mastering his craft, Ben has made a name for himself as a standout drifting driver, captivating audiences with his skill, precision, and daring maneuvers.

Ben Hobson embarked on his motorsports journey at the age of four, starting with dirt biking before making a name for himself in AMA Supercross. In 2012, his passion pivoted towards drifting, a change that saw him transition to the sport in 2014. Through dedication and skill development in Lone Star Drift, Hobson emerged victorious in the 2020 Championship, securing his Formula DRIFT PROSPEC license as a result. This achievement paved the way for a significant career milestone in 2023 when he joined the team led by “Odi” Bakchis, marking a new chapter in his professional drifting career. Then, during the season break at the end of 2023, he got the call all drifters dream of.

Pennzoil hopped into the Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-FD for an exclusive conversation with the newest member of Team RTR, Ben Hobson, to explore his journey into the world of drifting, his passion for the sport, and the thrills and challenges of competing at the highest level.

PENNZOIL: Following your recent announcement of joining Team RTR, fans have been buzzing with excitement on social media. We’ve engaged with them directly, and one of the burning questions on their minds is: What’s your favorite generation of Mustang?

HOBSON: The 1967 model! I grew up loving the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds,” and Eleanor will always be my ultimate dream car.

PENNZOIL: With your recent debut as a member of Team RTR, fans are eager to learn more about your plans for the upcoming Formula DRIFT season. One question that’s been raised: as the newest member, what are you hoping to contribute to the team this year?

HOBSON: I’m going into this season with an open mind because it’s a whole new program for me. I’m excited to drive the Pennzoil Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-FD! This year, my mindset is to get comfortable, have fun, and show myself and the world what being a part of Team RTR means.

PENNZOIL: Did your interest in motorsports stem from any specific experiences or influences during your childhood?

HOBSON: I grew up in Alabama, where we had 13 acres of land to roam around. When I told my dad I wanted to ride a motorbike, he ensured I was suited up in jeans, boots, and a helmet. It sparked a love for motocross racing.

PENNZOIL: How did receiving a Mustang for graduation fuel your passion for drifting?

HOBSON: During my senior year, I received a Mustang that needed to be fixed up as my graduation gift. I was already fascinated by drifting, which inspired me to attend a local drift event at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. While there, I had the opportunity for a ride-along with a close friend who was on the brink of going pro at the time. After attending that event, I was determined to fix up my car, and I taught myself how to drive in my 2011 Mustang GT. I practiced until I felt confident enough to hit the track.

PENNZOIL: Drifting is known for its dedicated community, which many call a family. What was a memorable moment in the drifting community you’ve encountered thus far in your career?

HOBSON: Early in my career, I traveled to Texas for races while living in Florida. I worked five days a week in construction and was off on the weekends, so I would take off Friday after work and head to Texas. At the 2019 Lone Star Drift competition in La Marque, Texas, within 30 minutes of starting the race, my motor blew up.

After my motor blew, I was heading back to my car, but a stranger stopped me. He handed me his car keys, saying, ‘Take my keys, drive my car.’ I was so surprised by his kindness and him just handing his keys over to some kid, but I took advantage and completed seven hot laps in practice. Somehow, I secured third place on the podium with his car.

Advancing to the final four, I was determined to do the best I could for myself and this man who entrusted me with his car. I defeated a former professional driver and made it to the finals. I had never driven the car before, and I secured another podium finish, putting me in third place at the time. It really proved that once you are a part of the drifting community, they will always rally around you, and they do it simply for the love of driving.

PENNZOIL: How have you used your early struggles in drifting to improve your approach and resilience toward chasing your championship goals?

HOBSON: In 2021, I transitioned to the PROSPEC series, the entry-level for Formula DRIFT. Despite facing numerous car issues in my first year, I managed to finish every round in 10th place that year. The following year, 2022, brought its own set of challenges with consistent car problems throughout the season. Even though I had championship aspirations, car troubles prevented me from achieving my goals. It was frustrating, but it happens to everybody.

That’s when I started to doubt my abilities and question whether I belonged in the sport, feeling like I was wasting not only my own time but also that of my supporters, who sacrificed so much to be there for me. I had to remind myself that I was in a position that people dream of being in, and the only option was to figure it out.

The moment I knew I belonged in the sport was in late 2022 when “Odi” Bakchis called and offered me the opportunity to drive his car for the 2023 Formula DRIFT PROSPEC season. Until that phone call, I still had some self-doubt, but that changed everything.

PENNZOIL: What was your initial reaction when Vaughn Gittin Jr. reached out to you?

HOBSON: I was blown away! I received a DM on Instagram from Vaughn Gittin Jr., asking about my plans for the upcoming season. It left me speechless for a solid minute. I’ve admired and looked up to him so much throughout my career. He told me that I was on their radar to join the team for the next year. I was beyond ecstatic that the top team in FD was interested in having me drive their car.

PENNZOIL: How did joining the team unfold after the first message?

HOBSON: Throughout the offseason, Vaughn and I continued our discussions, and then we traveled to SEMA together in November. Chelsea DeNofa asked me to drive the demo car during the drifting event, which led to some great bonding experiences, including grabbing dinners together. It was during one of these dinners that Vaughn said I would be driving Chelsea’s car the following day.

After getting into the driver’s seat, I felt that RTR was where I belonged and hoped to be chosen to join the team in 2024.

PENNZOIL: How has being a member of Team RTR been so far?

HOBSON: RTR has really treated me like family, even before it was announced, and I felt instantly included. For example, they recently gave me the opportunity to travel with them to the 2024 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube where I met other legendary drivers in the Pennzoil family such as Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney. It is still mind-blowing that I’m able to have these opportunities since I’m just a crazy kid from a small town in Alabama!

PENNZOIL: Are there any superstitions that you have or rituals going into races?

HOBSON: My socks became my lucky charm. I wore the same pair to every event, and they even brought me a championship once. They’re sitting in my trophy case, stained with champagne, but I can’t wash away those memories! I won’t wear them again; it’s a bit of a Michael Scott moment for me, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.”

For pre-race rituals, my spotter pumps some old-school rap, like 50 Cent, through my mic. It helps me unwind and get in the zone before hitting the track.

PENNZOIL: Pennzoil is powering your performance this season. How does it feel to have Pennzoil under the hood of your car?

HOBSON: It’s an honor. I’ve got some big shoes to fill! I am grateful to be trusted both with the car, powered by Pennzoil, and the legacy of last year’s championship-winning team.

PENNZOIL: Pennzoil’s campaign is called “Long May We Drive,” and it celebrates the essence of driving, whether it’s professional driving or the daily drive. What does that phrase mean to you?

HOBSON: It means long live the gas-powered clutches, screeching tires, the smell of a track, 6-speed manual transmission cars and V8s; long live it all. The fact that Pennzoil is so supportive of so many different levels of driving, from regular drivers to motorsports athletes, is really inspiring.

PENNZOIL: What advice would you give to aspiring drifters?

HOBSON: Don’t stop. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do something because the only person that can stop you is you. You are your own worst enemy, so keep going, and you’ll get to where you’re supposed to be.

Stay tuned for Ben Hobson’s journey as the newest member of Team RTR in the 2024 Formula DRIFT season. Follow him on Instagram for the latest updates!

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