Event It wasn't that long ago that the most excitement at a static car show was when someone fell out of a lawn chair or tripped over one of those creepy dolls posed next to street rod. But then a renaissance occurred. Thanks in large part to the folks at Air Ride Technologies, a little driving was introduced as a new component at a few Goodguys shows. It was the spark that lit a fire under many gearhead's butts and got them to actually use their cars. It wasn't long before more events started popping up that were hybrids that combined the classic static car show with performance driving opportunities. In addition to the Goodguys shows where the autocross component was quickly gaining popularity, there were other events like the Optima Ultimate Streetcar Invitational and regional events such as the Run Through The Hills and YearOne Experience.
When we heard another mega event was set to go down in the Midwest, we were all over it. After all, when there's driving involved, we're as afflicted with the "go-fast" sickness as anyone. We spoke with Scott Wahlstrom of Motor State Distributing about how the event came to be. "Our involvement in Pro Touring has been going on for a while now," Scott explains. "We have several dealers, which specialize in building these types of cars, so we've been watching the market to see what we, as a warehouse, need to have on hand for them. We're "hands-on" people so we thought the best way to see what everyone was using and wanting was to get involved. We made a trip down to Bill Howell's Run Thru the Hills event last year and hung out with everyone for the entire weekend. Several of our dealers were there with their cars, so that made for a great time. Bill put on an exceptional event and everyone had a blast. It was very cool to see these cars driven hard. Whether it was on the 60-mile cruise, the autocross, or the dragstrip, these guys are all about seat time. In the evenings, people would hang out and work on broken cars or bench race. Everyone would jump in and help if anyone was in need. That's what it's all about. We were so impressed that by the time the weekend was over, the initial groundwork was put in place for the Motor State Challenge." Rather than tepidly step into it, the decision was made to go all-in with the event. On Friday there was a 60-mile cruise followed by a hosted barbecue and car show. Saturday featured some hard-core road track time at GingerMan Raceway, and Sunday was reserved for an SCCA-organized autocross.
To be in the running for one of the awards, a car had to finish all three of the driving events. This kept trailer queens and race cars out of the mix since neither would want to tackle the cruise, especially given Friday's stormy weather. The track time at GingerMan was broken down into two groups: "Time Trial" and "Touring." Time Trial consisted of timed laps. No aggressive passing was allowed, but cars were spaced out enough to allow for max-effort laps by those willing to really push their cars. The Touring Class was set up for those who wanted to have fun on the track, but weren't concerned about lap time. For this class, participants wound their way around GingerMan Raceway behind a pace car. This way, even the novice drivers could enjoy the event.
Sunday was as simple as it was fun-maneuver through the SCCA (South Bend Regional) autocross course as quickly as possible without hitting cones. Time Trial winners were determined by adding their quickest road track time with their quickest autocross time. For the Touring group, the one with the best autocross time, provided they ran in the other events, took home the trophies and prizes.
Overall, the event went off with few problems. A huge storm blew through the area on Friday, but cleared in time for the cruise. Cars in the Time Trial group ran hard Saturday morning in an effort to get into the Top 15 for a run-off in the afternoon. Our '68 Camaro project, Bad Penny, was at the event and driving duties were shared between Steven Rupp and David Pozzi. David turned in a great qualifying lap, but the street pads couldn't take the abuse of us doing back-to-back sessions and the cooked brakes resulted in progressively slower lap times. Next time we'll take the time to swap to track pads capable of handling the higher temps.
Kyle Tucker of DSE also suffered a setback when, after turning in one of the best qualifying times (1:36.40), an electrical problem cut short his run-off lap. A couple of cars ended up in the grass, but none of the off-track excursions resulted in any real damage. Nick Licata got to spend the weekend behind the wheel of our new '10 2SS Camaro project car. Considering it was bone stock, we were impressed with how well it did, both on the road course and the autocross.
Steve Chryssos, the event's Technical Director, summed it up well when he stated, "I think we were all universally blown away by the extraordinary show that was organized and run by Motor State Distributing. Sure, there were a few minor 'inaugural' hiccups, but looking back, the Motor State guys' efforts exceeded everyone's expectations. The result was truly a great hot rod event. No amount of pictures, words, or videos can effectively convey that message. Those who weren't there will never appreciate that fact. Those of us who were there might take it for granted, but when you think about how hard these cars were pushed and how well they performed, the Motor State Challenge should really be labeled as a milestone event."
Also, while there's room for growth, attendance at the event was high with 55 cars on the cruise and road race (50 of them in the Time Trial class). A few cars were lost to mechanical failures, but 41 of them made it to the autocross on Sunday.
Plans are already underway for next year and the team is looking at ways to allow for more cars. All we know is that we're hooked and are already looking forward to the 2010 event. After all, it seems that the only cure for what ails us is more seat time.
Main Event Sponsors: Air Ride Technologies www.ridetech.com Detroit Speed Inc. www.detroitspeed.com Baer Brakes www.baer.com K&N Filters www.knfilters.com Flowmaster www.flowmastermufflers.com Eibach www.eibach.com
Associate Event Sponsors: •MSD •ARP •Edelbrock •Hedman Hedders •Royal Purple •B&M •Heidt's •Scat •Be Cool •Energy Suspension •Moroso •TCI •Centerforce •COMP Cams •Grant Steering Wheels •Painless Performance •Hotchkis Suspension