Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational - Pandemonium

We Head Back To The Desert For Fun And Fast Cars.

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Over the summer, our '68 had been getting beat on at events all across the country. After returning from the Run Through The Hills event in Tennessee, we only had a month to get the Camaro ready to race. After making some changes (detailed in the February issue), we were confident in the car's handling. Unfortunately we had zero experience on the Hoosier A6 racing tires and didn't know what type of feedback we would get on the road course. In hindsight, we should have brought the car home sooner so that we could get some track time.

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Our '10 was on the same "rush-to-get-ready" schedule. Blowers, brakes, suspension, and wheels were hastily bolted into place. The new Boze wheels and Nitto NT05 tires were installed literally days before the race. It was crazy, it was hectic, it was hot rodding, and it was fun.

Our '68 was set to be displayed at the SEMA show, so we drove it from Pahrump, Nevada, to Vegas, and after SEMA, we made the 60-mile drive back to Spring Mountain in Pahrump. Unfortunately we had screwed up installing our new brakes by running the wrong master cylinder push rod. This overheated the brakes and warped the brand-new rotors. Thankfully, Todd Gartshore over at Baer took pity on us and hooked us up with a fresh set, but the only time to put them on was the night before the event, in the dark, and using headlights for illumination. Ten hours before the race was to start, we were driving around the Spring Mountain complex trying to bed in the rotors, or at least burn off the zinc coating.

When morning came, the track was alive with the sound of muscle cars firing up and all the other cacophonous sounds associated an automotive event of this scope. Tech inspections, driver's meetings, and warm-up laps started unfolding at a frantic pace. The Ridetech autocross event was running on the upper paddock area, while the road course competition, sponsored by BFGoodrich, became a blur of activity. In the afternoon, that same upper paddock area was reconfigured for the Baer-sponsored 0-60-0 event. If there was any hope of running all 50 cars through the various events, the organizers knew everything had to run smoothly. Concurrent to the performance events, judges were visiting all the cars to score them in the style category. During the day there were failed parts, off-road excursions, scattered engines, and a host of other hiccups, but for the most part everyone had a great time. Sure we were all there to compete against one another, but in a friendly way. When we had to replace a bad pump, tools were offered and assistance rendered, and this wasn't just an isolated incident. With that said, nobody was cutting slack out on the track.

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In the end we didn't win, although among our peers, we finished just behind two very badass, sorted out Camaros. Even with the mechanical issues, our '68 did us proud and fought hard. Our '10 also did well, and even though we discovered a few areas that needed addressing, it ran hard and didn't let us down. But most of all, we got to spend the day beating on cars, and that's always a win.

Road Course Report
Driving Bad Penny at Spring Mountain this year was like driving a different car. Gone was the excessive understeer, body roll, and unbalanced handling in left-hand turns I felt last year. Shifting was also much easier due to the new T56 Magnum transmission, and I found I could heel and toe downshift under braking without much trouble. Turn-in and precision was made better by the Pfadt spherical bearings in the A-arms. With all this good stuff happening I expected lap times to drop by several seconds.


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