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.
01. James Harrell from Summerville, South Carolina, brought out his LS1-powered 1967 Chevy Camaro for the weekend's festivities. The cool thing is that he's owned it for over 32 years. James managed a respectable 68.867 sec. on the autocross and a 1:59.558 on the road course.
02. Matt Adams came all the way from Waterford, Michigan, to bring out the Iconic Herb Adams '77 Cheverra. The car features a 460ci big-block, VSE suspension all around, and Hurst brakes. This car actually qualified for the 1981 24 Hours of Daytona. Matt's best on the autocross was a 66.886, and he finished the weekend with a 1:52.804 on the road course—good enough for 15th place.
03. It's good to see fourth-gens representing. Buddy Buchanan has driven his LT1-powered '95 Z28 on a few Hot Rod Power Tours and tons of other events, so it was no surprise that he made the trek down from Lynchburg, Virginia. Here, he hits the autocross where he posted a quick time of 68.101. His best road course lap was 1:58.534.
04. Camaro owner Deb McGilton is relatively new to the hobby but has been bitten hard by the racing bug. Her sweet '69 RS is armed with an LS2 that makes 440 hp to the tires and hosts a DSE Hydroformed front subframe and QUADRALink rear suspension system. Her 1:59.130 on the road course and a 72.538 on the autocross, proves she'll be one to contend with in the very near future.
05. Brian Peaco, on leave from the U.S. Army, brought out his beautiful '68 for some track time. He credits Camaro Performers magazine for turning him onto Pro Touring cars back in 2010, when he picked up his first issue. Loaded with a Heidts Pro G suspension up front and Heidts four-link out back, his first-gen made it around the road course in 2:00.856. The stat sheet shows no autocross times, but he made 24 road course laps. That's dedication, right there.
06. Gene Owans brought out one of the many black first-gens on the grounds. Hailing from nearby Charleston, South Carolina, he wheeled his '69 around the road course in 2:02.277. The car is powered by a big-block 402, and a Turbo 400 handles shifting duties; not the ultimate setup for road racing, but we're sure he had a blast anyway. Being this was his first time autocrossing, we're thinking he'll be a repeat customer.
07. Jerry Noonan has had a few cars featured in Camaro Performers magazine and is a die-hard Camaro fanatic. He brought out his recently purchased '13 ZL1 for some track time and to get familiar with the car's characteristics at speed. Posting a best road course time of 2:07.092 shows he's not afraid to beat on his new ride.
08. Another representative of the black first-gen brigade is Mills Robinson of Virginia Beach, Virginia. His '67 is a total home-built budget ride in which all the upgrades were done by Mills. Powered by an LS1, the chassis features a combo of C5 suspension up front and a C4 IRS out back. With a 67.790 on the autocross, he was putting his 30-year project to good use.
09. Peter Nikonovich lives in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina, so he decided to bring out his freshly built '69 for some shakedown laps. No times were posted, but the car is powered by a Nelson Racing Engines 632ci monster that makes about 800 hp.
10. Geoff Potter and his brother Mike built this '68 for some weekend autocross fun. It's been in the family since 1986 and was once built as a drag car. Today, it's got an LS1 backed by a T56 transmission and plays host to RideTech suspension components. Geoff wheeled his way to a 67.277 on the autocross and a best road course lap of 2:04.486.
11. Representing the second-gen crowd, and putting a Mustang in his rear-view mirror, Tony Clark brought his Z28 to the party and took numerous laps on the road course. His best time was a 2:00.856, and he managed an impressive 66.593 on the autocross.
12. He may be killing a cone in this photo, but Brett Smith from Savannah, Georgia, has had quite a bit of success with his very nice Pro Touring '71 RS. He took Second place in the Quickest Second-gen category at the 2012 Chevy High Performance Nationals. Powered by a 347ci LS6, his quickest autocross lap this weekend was a 68.685, and he worked his way around the road course with a 2:04.053.
13. A regular on the street driving circuit is Stacy Tucker and her very sorted out '69 DSE test car. Of course, it's decked out with all Detroit Speed Inc. suspension, and relies on Baer brakes to bring it down from speed. Running in the Exhibition Class, Stacy killed the autocross with a 63.694 and made a best lap on the road course with an impressive 1:48.891.
14. If you're a fan of the television show R U Faster than a Redneck?, then you may recognize JB Granger's Atomic Orange '67. It's powered by a Magnuson supercharged LS3 that makes over 500 hp to the tires and has been upgraded with Chris Alston Chassisworks suspension front and rear. JB's best autocross lap was a 65.534, and on the road course he worked in a 1:58.040. That's haulin' ass, especially for a redneck.
15. Falling under the "s#!t happens" category, Michael Tucker got a little out of shape on the road course and took his flat-black '69 into the tire barrier.
16. With a slightly bruised ego and some dented sheetmetal, he says he'll have the car back in shape in no time and is looking forward to hitting the track asap.
17. Karl Dunn's '68 might look familiar to you as we featured it in the September 2012 issue ("Blu Balz"). This thing is super nice and is about as far as it gets from a "trailer queen." Karl gets it out to as many events a year as possible, and it's one of the fastest cars on the ASCS circuit. It's got all DSE suspension components and is propelled by a wicked 427ci LS7. Karl's times: 1:48.828 on the road course and 61.501 on the autocross.
18. Tim McGilton got his second-gen project on the road in mid-2012. With all the DSE suspension tuned up, he can really work the Kurt Urban Performance LS7 to its full potential. He took First place at the 2012 Charlotte Goodguys event and has been hitting just about every street racing event since then. At "The Slam," he rocked the autocross with a best lap of 62.205 and managed a 1:49.840 on the road course. Taking 26 laps tells us he's got quite the addiction going on.
19. Having just finished building this fifth-gen, the crew at Detroit Speed couldn't wait to get their latest test car on the track. With a host of new late-model Camaro suspension components in development, DSE engineer Ryan Mathews had the honors of testing the car over the weekend. With a scorching 1:45.277 on the road course, we'd say they are on the right track. Look for a full feature on this car in an upcoming issue.
20. Having fun on the autocross is Kyle Tucker in his wicked-fast DSE '70 test Camaro. The LS7 makes a ton of horsepower and has helped put Kyle in the Winner's Circle at a number of events over the past few years. He too was running in the Exhibition Class, but had the quickest lap on the road course with a blistering 1:44.341, while a 61.000 on the autocross was the third quickest lap.
21. Larry Woo is known for building foreign exotics more so than g-Machine muscle cars, but he's recently been pulled into the American classic car side of the hobby. His just finished, blown '68 is basically a kick-ass show car on wheels. He was using this weekend to get familiar with the car and had a great time doing so. He'll be taking it out to a number of events this summer.
22. Not only is Brian Finch a regular cast member on R U Faster than a Redneck?, he's also the 2012 Holley LS Fest Grand Champion. Here, he takes a break from racing to do a little maintenance on his '71. Running in the Exhibition Class, he had a time of 1:46.194 on the road course and a 61.222 on the autocross. He was near the top of the leader board all weekend. Look for Brian and his furious second-gen at most any driving event throughout 2013.
23. Safety is never overlooked at any ASCS event, and as such, Carolina Motorsports Park track director Brian Smith talks the competitors through the course to inform them where passing is allowed and where it's prohibited. This all happens before a single engine comes to life. The rules of the facility are explained more than once to ensure there are no misunderstandings and everyone stays safe.