Optima is now halfway through their 2017 Search for the Ultimate Street Car after a sold-out field converged on Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR) July 8-9, 2017. In just three short years, the PPIR stop has gone from a lightly attended points bonanza to a sold-out slugfest where cars from both coasts converged to battle for invitations to the SEMA show and the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI).
The Holley EFI GTL class for vehicles weighing less than 3,200 pounds was packed with heavyweights from the series. Rich Willhoff, driving his 2006 Corvette Z06, broke the street tire track record at the PPIR roval, while tying the series record for most points at an event (494 out of 500). Mike DuSold and his lightweight 1967 Camaro also turned in a strong performance, which moved him into Second place in the point standings on the season. DuSold can pass Holley EFI GTL points leader Ken Thwaits’ 2016 Mitsubishi Evo if he can turn in a 488-point performance at the regular-season finale at Road America. However, Rich Willhoff might catch and pass both of them when he runs his third event of the season at Fontana.
In the GTV class for pre-1990 iron, Brian Hobaugh brought his iconic 1973 Camaro out of semi-retirement and took home the class win and SEMA/OUSCI invitation over Larry Woo’s equally impressive 1968 Camaro. Woo’s strong performance did move him into Second place in GTV points, and he is now poised to either capture a class win at Road America or punch his ticket to Vegas with another strong outing.
In the Recaro GTS class, Jeremy Swenson’s 2011 Corvette ZR1 couldn’t chase down class winner Austin Barnes’ 2010 Dodge Viper or Jake Rozelle’s 2003 Corvette Z06. He did turn in his third solid performance of the season, moving him past Brandon Williams’ 2009 Nissan GT-R for the points lead.
The Franklin Road Apparel GT class ended up having the tightest competition of the weekend, as the 20-car class featured a five-way battle for the win between two Camaros and three Mustangs. Fords prevailed on this weekend, as Jonathan Blevins’ supercharged Mustang took full advantage of the track’s altitude to run down John Grow’s Camaro ZL1 and Chad Langley’s 2017 Camaro SS. While the points battle looks tight for now, two-time class champion Bryan Johnson returns to action next month at New Jersey Motorsports Park where he’ll look to make a run at his third-consecutive regular season championship in his 2013 Camaro.
Just three regular season events remain before the series moves to Las Vegas for the grand finale following the SEMA show. While there are still a handful of spots available for competitors at NJMP and Auto Club Speedway, the regular season finale at Road America has sold out long ago and now has a rather extensive wait list. Spectators are always welcome, as are TV viewers, who can tune in to catch Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car every weekend on MAVTV, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern on Friday nights. If you’d like to learn more about this series and how you can get involved, please visit driveoptima.com.
Pikes Peak Results:
GTV Class (pre-1990, 3,200+ pounds)
1. Brian Hobaugh, 1973 Camaro
2. Larry Woo, 1968 Camaro
3. Greg Thurmond, 1965 Corvette
Recaro GTS Class (post-1989, 3,200+ pounds, two-seaters and AWD vehicles)
1. Austin Barnes, 2010 Dodge Viper
2. Jake Rozelle, 2003 Corvette
3. Jeremy Swenson, 2011 Corvette
Holley EFI GTL Class (any non-compacts under 3,200 pounds, including forced-induction vehicles)
1. Rich Willhoff, 2006 Corvette
2. Mike DuSold, 1967 Camaro
3. Brandon Ranvek, 2006 Mitsubishi Evo
GTC Class (naturally aspirated two-wheel drive compacts, 107-inch wheelbase or less)
1. Kevin Schultz, 2008 Honda S2000
2. Cody Mason, 2013 Scion FR-S
3. Anthony Cuthbert, 2015 Dodge Dart
Franklin Road Apparel GT Class (post-1989, 3,200+ pounds, 2wd sedans, four-seater coupes, trucks, etc...)
1. Jonathan Blevins, 2008 Ford Mustang
2. Mike Maier, 2017 Ford Mustang
3. Chad Langley, 2017 Camaro
Spectre Performance Spirit of the Event Award: Alex Peitz, 2011 Cadillac CTS-V
Remaining 2017 Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car Schedule:
New Jersey Motorsports Park August 25-27
Auto Club Speedway: September 1-3
Road America: October 6-8
Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational: November 4-5
Photography by Jim McIlvaine