About five years ago there was an explosion of events geared towards guys who wanted to run their cars hard rather than just endlessly polish and preen them. The main problem for those of us on the left coast was that all these driving events seemed to be way too far east. Luckily, a few rednecks (no really, they're actually on a show called “R U Faster Than a Redneck?”) back east took pity on us and, in 2010, organized the inaugural Run to the Coast event. It combined a full-blown road course, autocross, and speed-stop competition into two days guaranteed to satiate the needs of those wanting to haul ass in their hot rods.
Since then, driving events have gained in popularity to the point where Bill Howell, Yancy Johns, and Brian Finch created the American Street Car Series. ASCS's mission is to organize driving events around the country geared towards American muscle cars. This year the whole grid of 80+ spots sold out in just a matter of days after registration opened.
Pent up demand? Maybe, but all we know is that seeing so much classic and modern muscle getting beat on warms our editorial hearts. As a bonus for us, the field was thick with Camaros of all generations.
Like previous years, the anchor event was a 2.1-mile road course set up by Orange County Race Craft's Nathan Swartzbaugh on the defunct El Toro air base runways. The course was very fast with cars reaching over 120 mph and a few over 130 mph on the back straight. Their autocross was set up to test driver reaction times and how well the car sticks in very quick turns and transitions. Given the high-horsepower cars in attendance, the course layout moved away from über-tight 180-degree turns and gave the cars room to stretch their proverbial legs a bit. Making a return appearance was the ASCS-created Speed-Stop-Squared (SS2). Two cars lined up, and when the girl dropped the flag, they both launched down a 700ish-foot straightaway in opposite directions. At the end each car turned right 180 degrees and back through a slalom course. The run culminated in a stop box. It was a blast to watch and a challenge to run since hitting a slalom cone or failing to stop in the rather small stop box resulted in a DNF.
The event rules were simple: cars had to pass a safety inspection, be street legal, and have tires with a treadwear rating of 200 or higher. There was also a contingency program sponsored by BFGoodrich, with stacks of prize money up for grabs for those running parts from the various series sponsors. Aside from all the driving events there was a Friday cruise and lots of late night bench racing at the host hotel.
Driving events can be hectic affairs, so it's nice to have these more relaxed activities to hang out with fellow gearheads and enjoy what this sport is all about: making friends and enjoying our cars.
01. Jordan Priestley brought his heavily modded 2011 out to the party where he knocked down a killer 1:53.276 road course time and placed fourth in the autocross with a 30.799 second lap. In the Speed-Stop-Squared (SS2) his best time was 22.022 seconds.
02. Ryon Chandler drove his stunning 1968 to a best time of 2:00.918 on the road course and 32.282 seconds at the autocross.
03. If you want to see a real-deal budget ride kick butt, then you only need to watch Gerald Lum's 1971 fly around the course. His best road course time was 2:02.155 while he managed a 32.385 on the autocross and 22.087 in the SS2.
04. Lots of modern Camaros were at the event, including Dannie Pinard's brand-new 2013 1LE. There must have been a transponder issue since we don't have a road course time, but he knocked down a solid 32.311-second run at the autocross.
05. OK, stop the presses! Casey Corin's 1992 was one of two third-gens at the event! Could this be the start of a trend? We can only hope. Casey wheeled the RS to a 1:59.991 on the road course, 31.381 on the autocross, and a best run of 22.47 in the SS2.
06. Another stunning Camaro at the event was Robb McIntosh's 1969. No road course time, but he ran a 35.424 in the autocross and 25.249 in the SS2.
07. Our publisher, John Barkley, and his son Greg, ran their 1971 Camaro hard all weekend. Greg's best road course time was 2:04.783 just squeaking past his dad's 2:04.798 time.
08. Tom Foglesong lives in Arizona, but we see him at just about every driving event we have here in Southern California. Fielding a budget-built 5.3L LS engine, Tom ran a very quick 1:55.690 on the road course, 32.606 in the autocross, and 22.448 at the SS2 event.
09. The SS2 is all about killer brakes and timing everything perfectly. Here, Gregory Gelfand gets his 1995 LT1-powered Z28 stopped in the box with a time of 24.630. On the big track, his best time was 2:15.710 and 37.813 was his fastest autocross time.
10. Robert Byrd took home our award for fastest modern Camaro with times of 1:51.577 on the road course, 31.370 on the autocross, and 22.423 in the SS2.
11. William Garrett was also representing third-gens in his retrolicious 1991. His best time on the road course was 2:08.719 while he managed a 35.683 at the autocross.
12. One of the nicest cars at the event was Greg Blundell's LS7-powered F-body. He churned out a smokin' fast time of 1:52.959 on the 2.1-mile road course and laid down top-of-the-curve times of 31.476 at the autocross and 21.31 in the SS2. He also picked up our award for fastest early Camaro.
13. Nick Licata brought out his 2001 Z28 project car, Black Betty, for a little fun. Crazy high oil temps kept him off the road course, but he laid down a solid run of 31.342 on the autocross and 21.94 in the SS2.
14. Michael Provencher had a blast driving his two-tone 1967 hard all weekend. His best times were 2:09.528 on the fast track, 35.609 through the cones, and 24.318 in the SS2.
15. Who says show cars can't be fast? A few years back Matt Alcala's 1969 was nice enough to win the coveted GM Design Award at SEMA, but these days his car is flogged more than posed. Matt turned in a 2:03.306 on the road course, 31.196 on the autocross, and 22.38 in the SS2. His continued willingness to beat on such a nice car won him a spot in this year's Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational. Go get 'em Matt!
16. No road course time for Ryan Murray and his 2000 SS, but he did register a 36.241 on the autocross and a 23.521-second run in the SS2.
17. Steven Rupp was also taking a break from his camera duties and driving Bad Penny, his 1968 project at the event. His times were 1:56.655 on the road course, 31.444 in the autocross, and 22.21 in the SS2. Rupp let track manager Nathan Swartzbaugh take Penny for a spin and as usual Nathan had lower times, much lower.
18. Another sweet fifth-gen was the 2010 SS piloted by Don Gonzales. Best times were 1:59.991 on the road course, 31.970 on the autocross, and 22.73 in the SS2.