Las Vegas Motor Speedway was the second stop in the 10-event series known as Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car, presented by Advance Auto Parts. It proved to be a very good weekend for Chevrolet in general, and more specifically, Camaros. The field grew by about 20 percent over 2015 as more folks are getting in on the action, and 31 Chevys competed across the four classes, with very strong results.
Camaros swept the podium in the GTV class for vehicles built before 1990 and weighing over 3,200 pounds. Jake Rozelle’s 1969 Camaro led the way, picking up his second class win of the young season. That win moved him out in front of the more than 30 GTV competitors in the chase for the regular-season title. A pair of 1968 Camaros rounded out the podium, with Larry Woo edging out Chad Ryker for Second Place. Each class winner at these events is also invited to the 2016 SEMA Show and the 2016 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI). Since Rozelle already punched his ticket to Vegas at the first event of the season at Thunderhill, the next-highest placed finisher receives the invite, which would be runner-up Larry Woo.
Only 7 of the 14 entries in the GTL class (any vehicle under 3,200 pounds) were Chevys, but Bow Ties again captured the top four spots. Mike DuSold led the way with his wicked-fast and incredibly built 1967 Camaro, followed by a trio of late-model Vettes driven by Rich Willhoff, Duke Langley, and Karl Dunn.
Ken Thwaits continued his march toward a second regular season championship as his Showtime Motorsports Camaro won the GT class (post 1989 vehicles, over 3,200 pounds, two-wheel-drive sedans, four-seater coupes and trucks) for the second event in a row. Jordan Priestley kept him honest in his sixth-gen Camaro, which came home with the GT class invitation to SEMA and the OUSCI, while Andrew Nier’s Mustang rounded out the podium.
Lynn Proctor’s Dodge Viper was the lone exception to a Bow Tie-dominated weekend. Proctor captured the top spot in the GTS class for post-1989, 3,200-pound plus, two-seat and all-wheel drive vehicles, but he was followed closely by the Corvettes of Brian Hobaugh and Glen Barnhouse.
West Coast folks will now wait until October for their next event as the series moves east, stopping next at New Jersey Motorsports Park on May 21 and 22. Registration for this event is still open to all street-legal production cars and trucks, and spectators and newcomers are always welcome. To learn more about the series, visit driveoptima.com or watch the series on MAVTV every Friday night at 8 p.m. Eastern.
GTV Class (pre-1990, 3,200+ pounds)
1. Jake Rozelle, 1969 Camaro
2. Larry Woo, 1968 Camaro
3. Chad Ryker, 1968 Camaro
GTS Class (post-1989, 3,200+ pounds, two-seaters and AWD vehicles)
1. Lynn Proctor, 2005 Dodge Viper
2. Brian Hobaugh, 2003 Corvette
3. Glen Barnhouse, 2012 Corvette
GT Class (post-1989, 3,200+ pounds, 2WD sedans, four-seater coupes, trucks, etc.)
1. Ken Thwaits, 2014 Camaro
2. Jordan Priestley, 2016 Camaro
3. Andrew Nier, 2012 Ford Mustang
GTL Class (anything under 3,200 pounds)
1. Mike DuSold, 1967 Camaro
2. Rich Willhoff, 2006 Corvette
3. Duke Langley, 2002 Corvette
Spectre Performance Spirit of the Event Award: Bob Gawlik 1968 AMC AMX
Ken Thwaits and his Showtime Motorsports Camaros are fixtures in Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car, and the car to beat in the GT class every time they show up at an event. Even with the target growing on his back, Thwaits continues to answer the bell, winning the first two events of the season.
He’s a year older but he’s still “The Kid.” Jake Rozelle takes it all in stride as he won the GTV class for the second time this season in his 1969 Camaro.
As soon as the sixth-gen Camaro came out, the automotive aftermarket began a mad scramble to design parts to make it even better. Jordan Priestley of JDP Motorsports is squarely in that mix, but he takes things a step further than most by proving the worth of his parts on the track. His results have been impressive so far, including a Top 5 overall finish in the PowerStop Speed Stop Challenge.
Rich Willhoff’s 2006 Corvette won the GTL class at Thunderhill and he looked to build on that momentum in Las Vegas. While Mike DuSold took home the class win, Rich did build on his lead in the season-long points chase, making him the man to beat in GTL.
Duke Langley hasn’t punched his ticket to the OUSCI yet, but he’s a threat every time out. Langley’s Corvette won the Detroit Speed Autocross and finished on the podium in the Falken Tire Road Course Time Trial and the PowerStop Speed Stop Challenge.
Karl Dunn is a series regular who ran a reduced schedule in 2015. He’s back stronger than ever in 2016, posting a solid Top 5 finish in the GTL class in his freshly painted 2002 Corvette.
Brian Hobaugh’s 2003 Corvette already secured an invite to the 2016 SEMA Show and OUSCI at the first event of the season. Las Vegas was about dialing in his combination and maintaining his lead in the GTS class. Hobaugh still holds the lead, but Lynn Proctor’s Viper closed the gap and will be a formidable competitor all season long.
This is a street car event and all competitors are required to complete the Lucas Oil Road Rally or risk losing significant points toward an overall win. Glen Barnhouse’s 2012 Grand Sport had no issues and finished third in the GTS class.
It takes a well-rounded car to be competitive in Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car. Larry Woo’s 1968 Camaro not only performs well on the track but it impresses the judges in the Lingenfelter Design & Engineering Challenge, where it won top honors in the GTV class.