2011 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational

Optima Batteries has this great idea of holding a competition of ultimate cars and trucks. A battle royale of road-worthy vehicles. They thought it would be cool to get the biggest and baddest street cars and their drivers to compete in an event with one winner. The car that won the event would hold the title of “Ultimate Street Car.” It would be the exact opposite of all those crummy kid’s sports where everyone is a winner. There are no 2nd place trophies or participant ribbons. This is a big kid’s competition.

#13. Kyle Tucker launched the Detroit Speed ’70 Camaro during the Wilwood Brakes Speed/Stop Challenge.

All the vehicles and competitors that compete in the event are done so by invitation only. The Optima committee picks the competition at regional qualifying events to increase diversity among vehicles, drivers and enthusiast segments.

These qualifiers will also help uncover talented vehicle builders and owners with the hottest street machines in the country for this year’s fourth annual Optima Invitational. Optima had at least 12 qualifying events in 2011.

Optima also recruits talent and vehicles at Goodguys autocross events across the country. Some cars are chosen by the sheer magnitude of the level of coolness. By the time SEMA rolls around, there are few spots left in the roster.

That’s when the Optima Batteries and FM3 Marketing team start walking the floor at SEMA with a dozen Golden Tickets to find the coolest and most unique street cars that made the cut to be used as marketing tools for manufacturers displaying their wares at the show.

#07. James Shipka and his ’67 Camaro are no strangers to events like this, considering that he’s won First place in Vintage American class at the 2010 and 2011 One Lap of America and done very well in a bunch of other events across the land. He’s running a Lateral Dynamics rear suspension, Hellwig bars, Speed Tech parts, and more. A new Vaporworx fuel system keeps the LS7 engine going strong. His Baer Brakes helped him place 9th in the Speed Stop Challenge.

#16. Bret Voelkel is the Head Honcho over at RideTech. He punished the 48-Hour ’67 Camaro that was built from a stocker to a full-blown bad ass LS-powered Pro-Touring machine. We’re not sure how far the cone under the 48-Hour Camaro rode around the Spring Mountain road course, but we’re sure it was a wild ride!

#31. Curt Ukasic of RPM Hot Rods raced Gerry Kerna’s ’62 Chevy II Nova aptly named, “Runt”. Here you can see him being chased by the K&N Filters camera car.

#31. Curt Ukasic's car won Goodguys Muscle Machine of the Year. The 658hp LS7 engine whipped Runt around the track in serious fashion.

Some of the vehicles invited at SEMA decline because their owners know OUSCI is a tough event and their machine just doesn’t have what it takes. But then there are the cool owners that have the competitive spirit even though they know they are bringing a water balloon to a gunfight and come out just for the sport of the event.

#48. Samuel “The Crazy Swede” Hubinette, 2-time Drift Champion, was right at home on the track. He was running his 2011 SS Andretti Edition Camaro for exhibition.

The event is aptly named, Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI). The 2011 OUSCI marks its fourth year! It gets bigger and badder every year!

Here’s how it plays out. There’s one winner from each of the five categories and the results from each category are tabulated to crown a single winner of the event.

This year’s list of competing vehicles was no exception. There was even the 2011 Street Machine of the Year winner included in the roster, the Roadster Shop-built Innovator ’67 Chevy Nova.

In the past, cars built to this caliber were garage queens. The bar has been raised and the Street Machine of the Year vehicles are built to do everything well.

#15. Mary’s talent won the invite to OUSCI back in July when she took second place to Mark Stielow at the Heidts Performance Car Challenge. She's been working closely with Hotchkis on their new 3-link rear suspension. The rest of the suspension is Hotchkis bolt-on TVS components. Mary Pozzi’s 402 LS powered ’73 Camaro was dubbed Project Jenny Craig since it went on a severe diet over the last year with a bunch of Anvil Auto Carbon Fiber body parts. She carried the reduction in weight to her personal life too and dropped 30 pounds to give even more weight advantage in the competition and it all paid off big with a 5th place overall at OUSCI.

#04. Dan Weishaar earned a golden ticket with his big street driven 440-powered ’69 Road Runner. He’s usually seen running his Hotchkis TVS-equipped Road Runner at Goodguy’s autocross events and on Southern California road course tracks and even the Spectre 341 Challenge Hill Climb! He recently installed a new Speedway Engineering full-floater rearend to fix some recent brake problems and the car performed great.

Here are some random shots of the Tucker's walking the autocross before competition, John Hotchkis and David Pozzi seeing if David got 'the shot,' the last time of the day, and Optima!

We love old 'Vettes with sidepipes! Dan Livezey brought out his SCCA-prepped ’69 Corvette for some serious competition.

Last Year’s Winner

The most prestigious way to get invited to OUSCI is to be the winner from the previous year. They are always invited to return in an attempt to keep their title for another year. This year it was Mark Stielow who came back to defend his title, winner of the coveted Optima Ultimate Street Car award from 2010! He brought his Supercharged LS7 ’69 Camaro Camaro, dubbed Red Devil.

#23. Dan Livezey was flying around the course in his SCCA-prepped ’69 Corvette.

The name derived from being equipped with the powerplant from the 2009 ZR1 Corvette nicknamed the Blue Devil. If you’ve seen this car perform in person, you’d understand how it won the title last year.

It’s not a race car pretending to be a street car. This car is a true Ultimate Street Car! Mark did a fine job building this beast and he almost pulled off a repeat win!

The Track

The main event is held the day after SEMA at Spring Mountain Raceway in Pahrump, Nevada. It’s a 3.4 mile road course, but OUSCI only uses 2.2 miles of it. The road course is big, fast, and technical. The RideTech Autocross and Wilwood Speed/Stop Challenge is held on a large asphalt area in the center of the south track loop. The autocross is set up with a couple of tight turns and some really wide sweepers.

SEMA 2011 was the first year I left the building in a car. I was lucky enough to get a seat in a car for the Road Rally on Friday evening, which included a scavenger hunt. I was Mary Pozzi's co-pilot in her newly modified '73 Camaro. It was a great ride with good company. For the scavenger hunt we made a great team. Mary would keep the car running in the check-in line out front while I ran into the casinos and grabbed swag with their logo. After fighting the downtown traffic, we made our last stop at IN-N-OUT Burger for dinner and hooked up with four other competing vehicles. All five cars caravanned to the checkpoint in Pahrump by way of the long route around the snow that fell on the pass between Las Vegas and Pahrump.

#17. Wanda Goldberg put her Baer Brakes and BFGs to the test in the Wilwood Speed/Stop Challenge. She had a blast and did really well in all the events.

#45. Pete Callaway gets our award for best sportsmanship by ripping the master cylinder off his supercharged 2008 Callaway Corvette SC652 to loan it to Danny Popp so he could finish his necessary runs…and won the entire OUSCI event. That’s dedication to being a great sportsman.

Road Rally!

The weather didn’t seem like it was going to cooperate with the event. On Friday when the participants were supposed to drive in the Detroit Speed Engineering Road Rally/Scavenger Hunt, it started raining. The participants drove their vehicles all over Las Vegas picking up branded souvenirs from major casinos, chapels, and IN-N-OUT Burger restaurants. During the rally, Mike Maier’s Mustang suffered an electrical fire and Vinny Allegretta had an excessive rear differential leak (both cars were repaired and raced the next day).

Since it was chilly, the rain turned to snow on the pass between Las Vegas and Pahrump. Some of the street cars took the extra-long route around the pass and some drove right through the snow on the way to the final checkpoint. This further proved how road-worthy these amazing cars were.

#01. Mark Stielow brought his 7.0L Supercharged LS7-powered Red Devil ’69 Camaro to defend the title as the winner of the 2010 OUSCI. With Detroit Speed suspension and the high-powered LS7, he was successful in a tie with Danny Popp’s modified 2006 Z06 Corvette. Mark’s Hot Lap time of 01:45.410 was not enough to beat Danny’s 01:42.208 in the tie breaker, so Mark took 2nd place overall in the 2011 Optima Batteries OUSCI. Stielow placed 7th in the Raybestos Performance Design Challenge, 3rd place in the BFG Hot Lap Challenge, 7th in the RideTech Street Challenger Autocross, and 2nd in the Wilwood Brakes Speed Stop Challenge.

In true hot rodding fashion Mark is good for a solid burnout after a smoky stop in the Speed Stop Challenge. We didn’t ask, but we assume he does this to round out the tires to clear off a couple of flat-spots. Even if that’s not the reason, it’s fun to watch!

#42. The Lingenfelter L28 681hp LS7-powered 2010 Camaro was driven by David Mikels. It had Pedders and Hotchkis suspension pieces, 15-inch rotors with big 6-piston Brembo brakes, and placed in the Top Ten on the road course. Seeing it perform made us want an L28!

#38. Jason Childress whipped the Gateway Performance Suspension ’69 Mustang around the track. Although the fender said BOSS 302, but we didn’t get a look under the hood to confirm it.

Race Day

Saturday was race day. The morning was very cold. Everyone was washing the dirt, ice, and snow off their cars. Racers and friends were performing some last minute tweaks and checking the all-important tire pressure. Tires were going to be a huge factor in the outcome of today because of the cold temperatures. A cold track with cold tires was going to cause troubles.

Murray Pfaff's Imperial Speedster was looking awesome at the Optima Batteries trailer.

Some racers from back east and colder climates were prepared or figured out how to warm their tires. Racers from warm climates were stuck with the hand they were dealt.

Competitors will be more prepared next year. You never know what the desert weather will bring. The weather at this 4th annual OUSCI is the coldest by far.

This year was the first year that spectators were allowed at the track. Hundreds of admission tickets were sold.

Compared to year’s past, there was a lot more energy this year. Optima Batteries knew that this event is growing exponentially every year, but they were surprised at how many gearheads wanted to experience OUSCI firsthand.

After Danny turned a couple of laps on the big track, his brake master cylinder failed! He was not going to be able to finish the event because he still needed to compete in the Speed Stop Challenge. Fellow Corvette racer Pete Callaway showed the ultimate in sportsmanship and pulled the master cylinder off his 'Vette and loaned it to Danny so he could finish the event. If it wasn’t for this gesture, Danny would have been eliminated from the competition. Bill Goldberg can be seen here intently watching Danny’s much anticipated Speed Stop Challenge run. In the end, Danny placed 3rd in the Speed Stop event and he owed it all to Pete Callaway.

#14. Danny Popp is a seasoned driver with tons of track time under his belt (7 SCCA National Championships and 30 Regional and Divisional Championships), so it was no surprise when the results were announced that he wheeled his modified ’06 Corvette Z06 to a tie in points with Mark Stielow’s ’69 Camaro. Danny’s Hot Lap Challenge time broke the tie and placed Danny as top dog of OUSCI 2011!

#22. JF Launier surprised the crowd with some great driving and performing ’57 Chevy Bel Air from JF Kustoms in Osooyos, BC.

#22. JF Launier whipped the ’57 Chevy Bel Air around the autocross in style.

Final Standings
1. Danny Popp, #14 (80)
2. Mark Stielow, #01 (80)
3. Brian Hobaugh, #47 (72)
4. Gary Rubio, #34 (63)
5. Mary Pozzi, #15 (62)
6. Brian Finch, #11 (58)
7. Mike Maier, #50 (57)
8. Pete Callaway, #45 (50)
9. Filip Trojanek, #44 (49)
10. Kyle Tucker, #13 (42)

True Sportsmanship Award!

There was a winner of an unsung award, the top sportsmanship award. The winner is Pete Callaway!

After Danny Popp finished his road course laps, he lost braking control. His master cylinder was toast. Callaway finished his driving events and pulled the master cylinder off his Corvette and gave it to Danny Popp so he could finish his driving events. If it wasn’t for this grand gesture, Popp would not have won the event.

In the end, it was Danny Popp and Mark Stielow in a tie with points. The tie was broken by the fastest lap during the Hot Lap Challenge. Danny’s fastest lap time was 01:42.208 and Mark’s was 01:45.410, so the official winner of OUSCI 2011 is Danny Popp.

#11. Brian Finch built and raced Mark Turner’s ’69 Camaro dubbed “Kryptonite”. Brian picked up his ticket to OUSCI by winning the “Run to the Coast” event earlier this year. He had a fire in his awesome 2nd-gen Camaro so he ran Mark’s Detroit Speed-equipped ’69 and placed an awesome 6th overall in points standings in a car he wasn’t completely familiar with.

#18. Mike Musto's Daytona Clone was gettin' it on around the road course!

#39. Stephen Wetterau’s ’69 Camaro is dubbed “Hellcat”. It started out as mild-street build and went out of control. It looked very controlled on the track with a Detroit Speed front subframe and Quadra-Link rear suspension and powered by a 770hp Pfaff-built 598 cubic inch big block Chevy for motivation. It’s seen here in a rare photo when two cars were racing side-by-side at this event.

#40. Big man Matt Farah of The Car Show and The Smoking Tire fame had some seat time in his ’98 C5 Corvette. He gained extra cred with fans by looking pretty good on the course.

#02. Bruce Scherman’s ’68 Ranchero was at the SEMA show and received one of the 12 Golden Tickets, so he brought it out to the race and had some fun. It’s sporting a built 351 Cleveland, a Shelby-esque front bumper, aluminum tonneau cover with spoiler, including chassis and other body modifications.

Detroit Speed & Engineering Road Rally
1. Mark Stielow, #01
2. Bruce Scherman, #02
3. Chris Jacobs, #03
4. Dan Weishaar, #04
5. James Shipka, #07
6. Brian Finch, #11
7. Vincent Allegretta, #12
8. Kyle Tucker, #13
9. Danny Popp, #14
10. Mary Pozzi, #15

Raybestos Performance Design Challenge
1. Phil Gerber, #24 (25)
2. Curt Ukasic, #31 (22)
3. JF Launier, #22 (20)
4. Brian Hobaugh, #47 (18)
5. Mike Langford, #05 (16)
6. Kurt Grimes, #58 (15)
7. Mark Stielow, #01 (14)
8. Stephen Wetterau, #39 (13)
9. Randy Johnson, #29 (12)
10. Filip Trojanek, #44 (11)

After the racing was done and the points were being added up by the OUSCI team, the film crew got all the cars together on the front straight for a group photo. The light was perfect!

#27. Bob Michaels drove his modified Vette-like ’10 Cadillac CTS-V hard and did it with comfort.

#12. Vinny Allegretta had a few mechanical troubles over the weekend in his Jakes Rod Shop LS-powered ’69 Camaro “Sure Shot”. It started with a differential leak during the Road Rally and then a U-joint failure during his second autocross run. He ran hard and neither issue stopped him cold. He placed 10th in the B.F. Goodrich Hot Lap Challenge with a lap time of 01.51.584.

#55. John Wente wheeled the 1952 Chevy built by ICON4X4.com. This thing has all updated running gear and LS-power, cool classic interior, 17” steel wheels, and tons of patina! It was fun to watch.

BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge
1. Danny Popp, #14 01:42.208 (25)
2. Pete Callaway, #45 01:44.749 (22)
3. Mark Stielow, #01 01:45.410 (20)
4. Kyle Tucker, #13 01:48.430 (18)
5. Gary Rubio, #34 01:48.441 (16)
6. Mike Maier, #50 01:48.721 (15)
7. Brian Hobaugh, #47 01:48.879 (14)
8. Filip Trojanek, #44 01:50.265 (13)
9. David Mikels, #42 01:51.319 (12)
10. Vincent Allegretta, #12 01:51.584 (11)

Professional wrestler Bill Goldberg and his wife Wanda Goldberg, TV show host and stuntwoman, were at the event with her black ’70 Trans Am.

#29. Randy Johnson let it all hang out on the autocross! He worked under the thought of, “If you’re going to push the car past its limits, you may as well go BIG!”

#19. Dan Oliver raced the 600hp twin-turbo 5.0 Outperformance Shop 2011 Mustang.

#13. Kyle Tucker slung the Detroit Speed ’70 Camaro around the cones and the track with ease. The Camaro has the whole DSE catalog on it. It’s good to be the king of your own Pro-Touring domain! Kyle performed great as always and took 10th overall.

#59. Amber Alberta’s 2007 Mustang was one of the Golden Ticket winners and had fun showing off her big bad Mustang out on the track!

Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed Stop Challenge
1. Gary Rubio, #34 00:06.541 (25)
2. Mark Stielow, #01 00:07.096 (22)
3. Danny Popp, #14 00:07.378 (20)
4. Mary Pozzi, #15 00:07.413 (18)
5. Mike Maier, #50 00:07.425 (16)
6. Brian Finch, #11, 00:07.479 (15)
7. Terry Neuville, #28 00:07.491 (14)
8. Filip Trojanek, #44 00:07.530 (13)
9. James Shipka, #07 00:07.545 (12)
10. Joe Shown, #46 00:07.568 (11)

RideTech Street Challenge Autocross
1. Danny Popp, #14 00:38.251 (25)
2. Mary Pozzi, #15 00:39.414 (22)
3. Brian Hobaugh, #47 00:39.502 (20)
4. Pete Callaway, #45 00:39.626 (18)
5. Mike Maier, #50 00:39.654 (16)
6. Brian Finch, #11 00:39.658 (15)
7. Mark Stielow, #01 00:40.017 (14)
8. Kyle Tucker, #13 00:40.031 (13)
9. Gary Rubio, #34 00:40.117 (12)
10. Mark Rife, #53 00:40.167 (11)

#49. Robb Holland is a NASA Champion and World Challenge driver. He landed a seat in the sweet Raybestos-giveway ’64 Pontiac GTO-R. This car looked awesome out on the track. We think Robb held back so not to break the car before the new owner took possession of it. The car turned out better than the original rendering, which is a hard task to manage. You can follow the build in video segments at RaybestosGarage.com. We should have entered to win this bad boy!

#49. Robb Holland flew around the autocross at full throttle in the Raybestos-giveway ’64 Pontiac GTO-R.

#18. Mike Musto also known as Mr. Angry! He wheeled his black ’69 Dodge Daytona clone dubbed “ANGRIER” at this years’ OUSCI and put the car through its paces. These cars broke all the records in NASCAR, but they weren’t designed for this sort of racing. Mike upgraded the suspension and brakes to perform better than stock. For a little extra downforce Mr. Angry adjusted the rear wing and installed a large (and functional) front spoiler. Powered by a 471 stroker big block backed by a 5-speed TKO-600.

Casey Scranton kept the CGSmotorsports supercharged 2011 Camaro on the track and looked good doing so with the 24x15-inch wide rear wheels wearing P405/25/24 tires and 22-inch diameter front wheels.

#51. Detroit Speed had a 2nd company car in the event and it was Stacy Tucker and her ’69 Camaro. Stacy’s ’69 has all the first-gen DSE products on it too!

#52. Bret Barrett raced the STS Twin Turbo 2010 Challenger. The rear-mounted turbos make an unreal amount of power and looked like the car would be a blast to drive.

#50. Mike Maier is a seasoned SCCA champ and drove his ’66 Mustang with all Maier Racing suspension and the latest addition of a carbureted Roush-Yates engine to motivate the car to an insane new level. He took an extremely respectable 7th place overall.

#53. Mark Rife’s 1963 split-window Corvette looked great out on the track. What’s not to like about a ’63 Vette with a vintage road race look and modern performance? He placed 10th in the Street Challenge Autocross!

#30. Kevin Miller drove Albert Melchior’s Carbon Kustoms-built supercharged LS-powered ’70 Pontiac Formula, dubbed “Cochise”…and he drove it like he stole it! This car looked flawless and very fast going around the track!

#46. Joe Shown flogged his 650hp ’90 Corvette ZR-1 out on the track. Shown's 'Vette was clocked at 181.5mph back in 2007 during the Sandhill Open Road Challenge; becoming the 'One Mile Street Champ.' This year, he placed 10th in the Speed Stop Challenge.

This ’68 Camaro was Terry Neuville’s first car. He purchased it at the age of 15 and it was a daily driver from 1980 to 1994. He rebuilt it and started having fun with it in 2009 using a Detroit Speed Quadra-Link rear suspension, Global West front suspension, Baer Brakes, LS2 engine, a 4L65E automatic transmission, and more. Terry sure knows how to build a car and proved that automatic transmission cars can do well at the track.

#05. Mike Langford was one of the golden ticket winners off the SEMA show floor. He had a blast at the event with is ’01 PT Cruiser that he had stuffed with a fuel injected 426 Chrysler HEMI…and not a new HEMI. It’s an old fashioned Elephant. It was a clean install and surprised a lot of people.

#44. Filip Trojanek looked good in the flared CorteX Precision Racing Technology ’66 Mustang.

#44. Filip Trojanek wheeled the CorteX Precision Racing Technology ’66 Mustang, dubbed “Xecution”. It’s not every day that you get to see an awesome flared Mustang with an incredible suspension and powered by a 568hp GM LS7! This bad ass Mustang finished in the top ten overall.

#43. Marty Sokulski’s Hotchkis suspension-equipped ’68 Dodge Charger looked awesome and had some great manners out on the track!

#24. Phil Gerber was not afraid to let it all hang out on the autocross! One of the course workers got a little nervous. If the cones could run, they would have too!

#37. Allan Miller is the President of BMR Suspension and showed that there are perks that come with the job while he raced the 2010 BMR Camaro. He did well on the track but went a little too deep on this corner on the autocross and punished a cone or two for good measure on one run.

#03. Chris Jacobs won the Street Machine class at the 2011 Heartland Nationals autocross event earlier in the year. It looked awesome with its massive rubber and stance. It was right at home out on the track. The emblem on the grill says 427, but it wasn’t a rat, it was an LS backed by a 6-speed and Chris knew how to use them.

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