Chevys Run Wild at Optima
The seventh annual Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) in Las Vegas took place the weekend after the SEMA Show and it was bigger and more competitive than ever. The big change this year was the move from Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country Club to Las Vegas International Raceway. There were a lot of really fast drivers in very well-prepared cars. Still, Chevy-powered machines comprised half of the top 10 spots and, once again, took home the big trophy.—Photos this page: Steven Rupp
At the end of the weekend Danny Popp found himself, once again, in the top spot. His 2003 Vette was set on “kill” and his finishes of First in the road course and Second in the autocross portions were big factors in his overall victory.
Last year’s winner, Brian Hobaugh, found the competition even tougher this time, but he still managed to wheel his 1965 Corvette to sixth-place overall. Brian’s Sting Ray was the only 2000 model year or earlier car in the Top 12, so that’s something to be really proud of.
Two-time OUSCI winner Mark Stielow also found the competition to be ruthless. His freshly built, supercharged 1969 worked (and looked) great all weekend.
Kyle Tucker knocked down solid times in all the events, but electrical gremlins caused him to miss the second cruise on Saturday night. That loss of 20 points kicked him from 18th place all the way down to 70th. This is why it’s so important to do well in all the segments.
In the exhibition class was Robby Unser (yes, that Robby Unser) in the Speedway Motors-built 1965 Nova. There were no official times, but it sure looked fast on the autocross.
Billy Utley squeaked into 20th in his beautiful 1972 Nova. It’s nice to know that cars that look this good can run that fast.
MBRP to Race Continental Tire Challenge in A Z/28.R
Martin Barkey is moving from a Porsche 997 to a new Camaro Z/28.R to be part of Mantella Autosport’s all-Canadian assault on the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge championship. Moving to the Camaro Z/28.R from the Porsche 997 will mean a huge adjustment to the greater horsepower and over 51 percent increase in torque. As Mantella Autosport is also making the move from the Aston Martin Vantage there will be a learning curve in the pits as well as on the track.
The 2015 season shaves two events from last year, putting the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in line with the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule. All races are 2 1/2-hour endurance events. As part of the Rebel Rock team, Barkey and co-driver Kyle Marcelli posted a 13th place season points total in a field of 33 GS class cars.
“2014 was my rookie season,” said driver and team owner Martin Barkey. “I learned so much racing at a professional level and am very excited to be joining Mantella Autosports for the 2015 season. Andrew and his team of professionals combined with the Z/28 Camaro platform should be nothing short of spectacular. I have already tested the car; it is a beast ... totally different than last year’s car. I am looking forward to learning how to get the most out of its obvious advantages.”