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4th Annual Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational - Evolution
The best of the best square off in Nevada at the 4th Annual Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational
Apr 1, 2012
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4th Annual Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational - Evolution
Every year this event ratchets up a bit more in terms of how “upscale” it is. While the first year was more like a bunch of guys (and gals) meeting up for a friendly track brawl, the event has now morphed into quite a polished production. Optima Batteries even commissioned this rig that immediately made us think of Optimus Prime. Their “race event in a box” transforms from an innocuous trailer to an event headquarters complete with stage, results monitors, viewing platform, and PA system. Very cool.
This isn’t some Sunday cruise along the coast. Many of these cars will hit some serious triple-digit speeds, and as such, safety is the Number One concern. Each car had to pass a very thorough inspection to make sure they were up to the task of negotiating Spring Mountain’s 2.1-mile course.
It wouldn’t be a driving event without Kyle Tucker and his blue ’70 Camaro tearing up the asphalt. Here, we caught him being chased by the K&N camera car. On the road course, he came in Fourth place, and on the autocross he finished with a strong Seventh-place finish. The Speed/Stop Challenge, an event Kyle typically does great in, proved problematic. Still, even without those points, Kyle managed to nab 10th-place overall.
David Mikels piloted the Lingenfelter-prepped ’11 Camaro in the event. Given how nasty it sounded flying around the road course, we’re sure the engine is far from stock. On the 2.1-mile road course, David managed to place in the Top 10. He placed 18th in the Wilwood Speed/Stop Challenge (7.829 seconds), and 30th in the Ridetech Autocross with a best time of 44.056 seconds. Add it up and that was good for 18th overall. Given the talent at this year’s event, that isn’t bad.
It’s an Optima event so it was no surprise to see our favorite ’67 and official Optima spokescar at the race being piloted by James Shipka. A strong finish in the Speed/Stop Challenge combined with a 15th-place autocross time (41.820) and a 13th-place road course lap (1:54.348) netted him an 11th-place overall finish. Top 10 next year, James?
When it comes to safety, nobody is more serious than the folks over at Detroit Speed Inc. Before hitting the road course, Stacy Tucker donned a full fire suit and a Hans-equipped helmet. Her best road-course time was 1:54.852, best autocross was 42.160, and her Speed/Stop time was 8.096.
All drivers need some sort of special motivation before hitting the track and it seems that someone has figured out that Mary Pozzi’s is macaroni and cheese. Sort of makes us think of a Greyhound chasing a mechanical rabbit.
Brian Finch was set to compete in his silver second-gen, but an engine fire prior to the event sidelined his Camaro. Luckily for him he was able to borrow Mark Turner’s LS-powered, DSE-equipped, ’69. Brian finished in the Top 10 on the road course, autocross, and Speed/Stop Challenge in his BFG-sponsored ride. This consistency resulted in him securing a Sixth-place overall finish, which is something to be really proud of, especially in a back-up car.
One of the best-looking cars at event was Stephen Wetterau’s ’69 RS/SS. The stance was perfect and the paint was stunning. It also bucked the LS trend and had a tasty 596 big-block under the bonnet. On the road course, Stephen knocked down a best lap of 2:12.083, but mechanical issues kept him out of the other driving events. Still, it was sweet hearing that big-block blast around the Spring Mountain circuit.
Like the prior two years, this event was shot for an airing on the SPEED channel and also like last year, it will be hosted by Bill Goldberg. Here, we caught a few of the event’s big names walking the autocross course for the cameras.
The OUSCI rules mandated tires with a treadwear rating of 200 or higher, so getting the maximum grip out of them was uber-important. Mary Pozzi’s crew chief, her husband David, airs down the Falken tires for better grip. There aren’t any practice laps, so the drivers had to use the setup knowledge gained at other track events.
Ridetech’s Bret Voelkel brought out the “48 hour” ’67 Camaro for the competition. His ranking of 13th in the autocross (41.583), 27th in the Speed/Stop Challenge (7.935), and 17th in the BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge netted him a 22nd-place overall finish. We’re sure he was hoping for better, but the competition this year was tougher than ever.
If there was a long distance award, we’re pretty sure Florida’s Eric Cederberg would have won it. He drove his ’10 Camaro to the event, raced it hard then drove it home. It’s something few, if any, of the other drivers could claim. In the autocross, he ran a 42.983, and on the road course, he turned in a best time of 1:59.650.
Representing Camaro Performers magazine at the event was our very own columnist Mary Pozzi in her newly reincarnated ’73 Camaro. This is her car’s second OUSCI and her engine’s third (it was in our ’68 Camaro, which finished in First place in ’08, and Fourth in ’09). This year, Mary killed the autocross with a 39.414-second run, which was good enough for Second place. On the road course, she ran a 1:53.102 (11th place), and in the Speed/Stop Challenge, she came in Fourth with a best time of 7.413. This was especially impressive given her lack of ABS. It all combined for a Fifth-place overall finish, which in this group was quite the accomplishment!
At the last qualifying event of the year, Terry Neuville won a slot in the race and came out on a mission to do well in his Camaro. He ran a very strong 1:56.860 on the road course and a 40.750 on the autocross. In the Speed/Stop Challenge he came in Seventh-place and picked up 14 big points. But for reasons we don’t quite understand, his ’68 received zero points in the Design Challenge event. Even with that, he still held onto the 13th-overall spot.
Looking more like baked potatoes than Camaros, the cars from DSE were all wrapped up to keep the tires nice and toasty. This was especially important given the chilly air temps at Spring Mountain.
ABS, what ABS? Casey Cranton does a reverse burnout in the Wilwood Brakes Speed/Stop Challenge. Casey nabbed an invite to the race at the SEMA show and had little experience tracking his ’11 SS Camaro. Still, he had great time running his fifth-gen hard!
Last year’s winner, Mark Stielow, was back to defend his title in his supercharged ’69. Mark is a GM engineer and has been spending the last year perfecting his Camaro. It has more grip, more power, and his ABS system is now working flawlessly. In his talented hands, the Camaro flew around the various events. On the road course, he placed Third, and his big-powered first-gen killed the Speed/Stop with a Second-place finish. On the autocross course, he placed Seventh.
Vincent Allegretta’s ’69 Camaro is a serious track car that sees quite a bit of action at NASA driving events. The car is bare bones with a Lexan front windshield, full cage, and tons of attitude. This was Vinny’s first time at Spring Mountain and he drove the car hard on the road course for a best time of 1:51.584, while on the autocross he placed 18th with a 42.220-second run.
We absolutely loved Brian Hobaugh’s second-gen Camaro. Its huge 335 front tires just looked sick and the whole car screamed “drive me hard!” The extra grip came in handy on the road course where Brian came in Seventh, and he did even better on the autocross with a Third-place finish. The Speed/Stop tripped him up a bit with an 11th place (7.668) run, but he picked up some big points in the Raybestos Performance Design Challenge. This resulted in a Third-place overall finish, which we’re sure made Brian a pretty happy camper. On his tail, in this warm up lap, is Danny Popp in his track-prepped Z06.
After all the driving events, Mark Stielow was 14 points behind Danny Popp. But Mark picked up 14 points in the design portion of the event while Danny didn’t score a single point. This resulted in Mark and Danny being tied for First-place in the overall championship. The tie was broken by the rules, which stated that in the event of tie, the person with the fastest road course time gets the win. In this case, it was Danny. Still, Mark has to be very proud of his ’69. After all, compared to some of the other race car-themed rides, his air-conditioned, mellow-sounding muscle car was downright civilized.
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