Last weekend marked the first Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenge in Las Vegas, aside from the invitational held after SEMA. This event was number three of ten in the series and was held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a mecca of fuel burning fun in the Las Vegas area.
Driving to Vegas is always an exciting trip, since it’s only about four hours away. For roughly three solid hours it’s nothing but bushes, dirt, and rocks. Then you start to see the faint glow of city lights on the horizon – a few more miles and turns, Las Vegas comes into view with an overabundance of lights, hotels, and fun. But we weren’t there for glitz and glamour, we were there for horsepower and burnt rubber.
Saturday started bright and early with tech inspections, driver meetings and walking of the courses. The autocross and the speed/stop challenge were next to each other, with a K-Rail enclosed walkway between the two which was great for spectating.
The Detroit Speed and Engineering autocross was a challenging course, with lots of switchbacks just trying to get the ass end of cars to spin around for them. The course was spread out over a large parking lot, making it a faster paced course, with many completing the course in under thirty seconds.
Unfortunately there was one major casualty claimed by the course. A maroon Mustang was pushing his car to the limits – and went a hair too far. The car lost traction, slid towards the K-Rail while completing a 180 degree spin, and slammed the passenger side into the barrier. Crews were there in seconds, and the driver was okay – minus some hurt pride. He drove the car off the course, fixed it, and was back out for the rest of the event.
The Wilwood Brakes street stop challenge was an exciting event to watch as well, with lots of people getting into the excitement. The drivers started with a long sweeping left turn, which led into a straight away. There was a slight jog in the middle of the straight away, then they had to slam on the brakes.
Many just clipped the cones in the jog, and a few overshot the stop box, plowing through a few cones. The Black Widow Exhaust S-10 had a hard time keeping the truck inside the box, and the back end of the truck often swung around, but he managed to stay inside the box.
The other event going on Saturday was the Lingenfelter Design and Engineering challenge. This is where a select group of judges look over every single car. They are looking for things like overall look of the car, fabrication, how street worthy it is, etc. This means that an all out “street legal” race car isn’t going to judge as high as the guy who still has a full interior in his ride. Afterall, this is the search for the ultimate street car!
All day Saturday it was fairly windy, but not overly cold. However looking off in the distance towards the South, you could see dark clouds and rain. The R-word was forbidden to be spoken around drivers, as they wanted all the traction they could get. But as the day went on, it was apparent rain was on it’s way. By 5PM you couldn’t see the mountains to the South, only a thick haze of rain.
The drivers then hopped in their cars shortly after 5PM to start the road rally. A few drops, but nothing major until they hit the interstate. That’s when the flood gates opened and the highway had puddles of water all over it. Again, these are street cars, so they flipped on windshield wipers – if they had them working – and cruised away.
Road Course Action
Luckily, the crazy rain from Saturday night cleared up, the clouds moved out, and Sunday was a beautiful day. The participants were eager to get on the Falken Tire Hot Lap road course and push their machines to the max. After some warm up laps where they get to learn the course, they were let loose!
Right off the bat a C4 Corvette fell casualty to the extremes of the road course. Smoke started billowing out from underneath the car, and the race came to a stand still until the car was removed. The other car that had a tiny bit of trouble was Jake Rozelle in his ’69 Camaro, when he decided to see how the car liked the dirt. No harm was done to his car, and he was back on the track seconds later.
Overall, the event was a great success – even being somewhat of a last minute addition to the schedule. We can’t wait till the next event! As always, results and a massive gallery are below:
|Registrant (16)||Car #||Road Rally||Design||Hot Lap||Autocross||Speed Stop||Score||Rank|
|Registrant (12)||Car #||Road Rally||Design||Hot Lap||Autocross||Speed Stop||Score||Rank|
|John Lazorack III||50||25||21.2333||20||18||18||102.2333||4|
|Kenneth Allan Mitchell||16||25||19.7667||14||14||13||85.7667||7|
|Registrant (18)||Car #||Road Rally||Design||Hot Lap||Autocross||Speed Stop||Score||Rank|
|Registrant (1)||Car #||Road Rally||Design||Hot Lap||Autocross||Speed Stop||Score||Rank|