With the folks at Detroit Speed Inc. at the forefront of building some of the best Pro Touring and performance aftermarket suspension components for classic and, now, late-model muscle cars (they also happen to build some pretty bitchin cars, too) it was only a matter of time before a street driving event would bear their name as the title sponsor. That event came to fruition this past April when the American Street Car Series (ASCS) rolled their rig into Kershaw, South Carolina, for the Detroit Speed Inc. Southern Slam held at the Carolina Motorsports Park.
If you've been reading this here mag for the past five years or so, then you've no doubt seen the DSE test cars in these very pages as full-blown car features or in event coverage tearing up just about every road course and autocross in the country. And if you've been to any Goodguys car show, ASCS, or Optima driving event in the past few years, then you also know that these cars mean serious business. They get driven hard and often, and are usually at or near the top of the leader board.
The crew at ASCS first got their wheels rolling about eight years ago by putting on a casual driving event in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, called Run to the Hills (RTTH). At this point they weren't an organization—just a bunch of local hot rodders looking to have some fun with their cars. The first RTTH had a total of 12 cars competing with the understanding that the winner would be crowned "King of the Hill." That was it—bragging rights were the sole prize. But the main purpose of the whole deal was to entice local muscle car guys to get out of their lawn chairs and to burn some big fat rubber.
Today, the ASCS is recognized as the premier street driving sanctioning body; they now put on a minimum of six events per year. "With events now reaching both coasts, what we provide is a safe racing environment for guys who want to put their car and their driving abilities to the ultimate test," said ASCS's co-founder Bill Howell. "Our competitors range from experienced racers to the guy who just wants to get out on the track to see what his car can do. We also get a lot of first-timers. It's great that we get drivers of every skill level. It isn't long before the rookies get a few events under their belts and become skilled drivers. The racers have gotten better and quite competitive over the years, but still the common goal is to have fun, which is our main focus at these events."
The awards have become slightly more sophisticated than what the winners got in the early years (a home-made wood plaque), and another cool aspect of the ASCS is that a number of their events are qualifiers for the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational held in Pahrump, Nevada, the Saturday following the SEMA Show held in Las Vegas. It's the biggest driving event of the year; the one that everyone hopes to get an invite to. And it's not always about who are the quickest that get the OUSCI invitation—take, for example, Mike Holleman. He took home the Southern Slam's "Spirit of the Event" with his '65 El Camino and was awarded a spot to compete in the year-end driving event.
Each ASCS event is run according to the facility's size and ability to accommodate the individual exercises. For instance, the length of each autocross is dependent on available space, the road courses are obviously different in layout and length, and the Speed-Stop Squared is run only if there is available space. These are the unique features that keep every ASCS event fresh and different.
Although there was a lack of acreage to lay out the always-popular and challenging Speed-Stop Squared competition, the inaugural Southern Slam went off without a hitch, and although the air was chilly, there were plenty of Camaros turning up the heat for two days on the 2.2-mile road course and the relatively large autocross.
Check out www.americanstreetcarseries.com for news, results, and upcoming events.