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Old 07-23-2014, 07:40 AM
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Default Lance’s review of the Ultimate Street Car Challenge

This event is compiled of 5 separate competitions, Speed Stop, Autocross, Road Rally, Design and Engineering judging, and finally a Road course event. Points from each event were tallied up to see who earned the most for a chance to an invitation to the finale held in Las Vegas after the SEMA show. Geared towards Street cars, extra points could be made by having a horn that works, back up lights, radio and AC…some things that can normally be overlooked in a performance car build. You could also earn more points by finishing ahead of your competitors in time at each event or judging points. The idea is to take your car that you built to perform yet still remain street drivable and put it to a real performance test against other like kind cars. I had been planning on this event ever since it was announced at the beginning of the year. I even traveled to the USCA event at Daytona as a spectator just to see what it was all about and experience the feel of the event.

I was impressed then as a visitor and even more impressed as a participant after this weekend. The USCA folks put on a great show, everything was on time always and we never wanted for anything all weekend long. I believe we as a group of around 40 cars turned over 1,000 laps on the speed stop and autocross courses on Saturday and over 1300 laps on the road course on Sunday.

Gateway provided everything we needed for the event, the courses were professionally designed and staffed, Jet Hot Coatings provided the best of the best instructors for us to use if we wanted, and all of the events proceeded on a professional pace with a friendly flare. It really couldn't have been any better.

I've been working on making my 1985 Monte Carlos perform better for several years now while still keeping it in street driving form, so this seemed like a perfect place to test it out. There are just three classes of cars, cars over 3,000 pounds, cars under 3,000 pounds, and All Wheel Drive cars.

At tech and registration I was assigned car #057 and on Saturday the odd numbered cars went to the Speed Stop first while the even numbered cars tackled the autocross course. I had NEVER tried to Speed stop before and started out with zero instruction. I figured out pretty quickly that I'd have to change how I brake. See, I left foot brake when autocrossing and the first 9/10s of this course is like an autocross. The problem comes on that last tenth!! The first two runs I came to a stop using my left foot on the brake...killing the engine in the process. I then tried to adjust by right foot braking the whole run and that was just about as bad, I just couldn't get my timing down nor be smooth around the 180 degree turn. I ended up left foot braking and then once I was out of the 180 I'd literally lift my left foot in the air and hold it there (didn't know what else to do with it) until it was time to hit the brake and clutch to stop in the box. This actually worked pretty decent (for me anyway). I made 13 runs at it total and ended up finishing 15th in this event overall out of about 28 cars in my class...and beat some pretty impressive drivers and cars along the way. Not bad for my first time at I think anyway.

Here's the video of my Speed Stop runs. I left the camera running on my roof for a while to get some shots of the other cars launching...gives a pretty good idea of the other cars that were out there that day.



We had about 2 hours 15 minutes to make as many runs as we wanted. I stopped after about an hour and a half as I was starting to loose time again and figured that I'd got all I could get out of it and wanted to save my car for the next event. While I was hanging out the judges came by to score my car for the Design and Engineering part. The 5 judges asked a lot of questions and al made notes about the car on their clipboards…I think some of them liked that it’s mostly original paint, everything is still there and works, and it certainly fits into the Street Car theme. I finished 20th out of 27 cars in this element.

After a short break, I headed over to line up for the autocross runs. It had been several hours since I walked the course so the first few laps were just a manner of learning the course again and getting used to the track surface. Unfortunately the first two runs were all I recorded on my GoPro. Not sure if it was a battery issue or the header my camera took off the top of my car onto the track near the end of one of my faster runs…but I lost most of the autocross video. The course was fun, it was pretty wide open with a couple of pinch points and a long right hand decreasing radius sweeper that one had to set up for properly if they wanted to set a good time. I made 14 runs on the autocross course stopping several times to cool the car, cool the tires, and hydrate…as it started to get just a little bit warm out there finishing 17th out of 27 in overall best time.



After a short driver’s meeting we gathered up for the Road Rally. Basically it was a 17 mile drive down mostly back roads from the North Side of East St Louis to the East side where we gathered up in the parking lot at Gateway Classic Cars. At registration Saturday morning, they put our driver’s licenses into sealed envelopes and when we checked in at the Holley welcome party at Gateway Classic cars we had to present our still sealed envelopes to qualify for the Road Rally points. The USCA then fed us some fabulous BBQ and we were able to tour all of the nice classic cars for sale. DSE gave us all a nice swag bag and that was the end of the day’s activities. We headed back to our hotel to rest up for the next day’s activities.

Sunday was Road Course day. We were divided up into three groups based on road course experience, Novice, Advanced, and Expert and each group was to get (5) 20 minute sessions on the track, two each then a break for lunch the 3 more after lunch. Once again Jet Hot Coatings provided 5 instructors for us to use if we wanted. My initial plan was to only do 1 or 2 sessions and see how it went then decide how much more I was going to do. I had instructor Chris get in the car with me for my second session and during the 18 minutes of actual track time…he got me from just cruising around the track in 4th gear to diving into corners, blasting down the straights, and chasing down cars in the twistys that should have been much faster than my old Monte Carlo. The car did great! The brakes held up fine, tires were looking good, suspension was working fantastic…it was all so good I stayed around for the after lunch sessions. Chris rode with me 2 more runs and we worked on a bunch of different things, some worked, others did not. For instance we tried to get me used to left foot braking for about 3 laps and I just could NOT get used to that. My timing was all messed up, brake pressure all wrong and about halfway through the third lap he just said, screw that…go back to right foot braking. We worked on lines, braking points, speed, he showed me where we could make back up the time I was losing to other cars by being out run on the straight stretches. During the 4th session, he had me braking at only two points on the track, at first I thought he was crazy until I ran a lap like that and saw how much time I made up on the other cars in those corners…and how stable the car still felt. It was a HOOT!! This first video shows our first session together and how much faster he got me in just one 18 minute run on the track.



The second video is my last of the day, session 5. I'm by myself and start out following my friend Dan in his 1984 Monte Carlo. You'll see a black Challenger at one point, that is the MAV TV Camera Crew Chase car...I'm certain they got some great video action over the day of us two racing together as we came upon them several times. You'll also see Dan kick a cone directly into my line and I chose to take out 2 other cones at full speed instead of trying to dodge them at that speed. This caused a short black flag to allow them to reset the Chicane then a quick restart. On the next lap Dan had a little off course excursion in turn 1 right in front of me. I saw right away that he was okay and in fact he got back on the track and was behind me pretty quickly thereafter. I made a few more laps at speed and common sense kicked in and I said to myself “I've had a ton of fun, learned a bunch, the car and me are still all in one piece”…so I called it a day and cruised in for a slow finish. I ended up finishing 18th out of 27 cars in the Hot Lap portion.



Overall I ended up finishing 17th overall out of 27 cars in my class. WAY better than I ever imagined I would. The final results can be seen here.

http://ultimatestreetcarassociation.com/events/

You have to click the link to open a spreadsheet, then view the different pages to see the details of each event.
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Old 07-23-2014, 07:40 AM
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We got the car loaded up on the trailer and everything packed for the trip home, then went over to the awards ceremony where the USCA gave out the awards for the weekend. This is where I was honored, surprised, and excited to be given the Ridetech Renegade of the Event award.






This award is given to a participant that embraced the “doing more with less” mentality. One who didn't necessarily spend the most money on his car, but put the time and effort into it that made it still perform right alongside the higher dollar cars there. It is a beautiful trophy too…

Getting that award made my weekend. I’d had such a good time, and everything went so smooth and to top it off by being recognized like that…just blew my mind. Huge thanks to Bret Voelkel of Ridetech and Jimi Day and the rest of the USCA crew for giving me one of the most memorable weekends I've ever had. IF anyone reading this is wondering if they should attempt one of these USCA events or not, stop…just sign up and go. Trust me you'll have the time of your lives…and who knows, you just might end up getting some TV time as well. I know I can't wait to start watching the shows that start airing on MAV TV this Friday night.
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Old 07-23-2014, 10:47 AM
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Congratulations on the award! Looks like you had a really great time out there. Your car sounds great, and it looks from watching the video, that your car turns in really well also. Great job!
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Old 07-23-2014, 10:48 AM
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Nice job Lance! Very respectable finish. Wish I could've made it to that one. I'm signed up for MIS in August, can't wait. It's Motorstate Challenge this weekend though, another awesome event.
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Old 07-23-2014, 11:15 AM
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Thanks Scott and Aaron.

Motorstate should be a blast. The USCA guys and gals worked on me pretty hard to get me to try to go to MIS but it just isn't in the cards this year.

If the schedule is nearly the same next year, I'll back off on my SCCA racing and plan on doing the USCA at Texas, Gateway, Michigan, and possibly Road America instead.
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Old 07-23-2014, 11:23 AM
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Awesome Lance, that is really COOL!!
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Old 07-23-2014, 12:01 PM
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You winning the Renegade Award is perfect ... because very few have done more with less. You have built a great handling car with a small amount of purchases and more "sweat".

Getting the geometry equal from side to side ... improving your caster/camber combo ... and balancing your spring & sway bar rates ... was the key.

Congrats buddy !

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Old 07-23-2014, 12:41 PM
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Very cool and congrats. Great write up.
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Old 07-23-2014, 12:43 PM
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That means a lot to me Ron, thanks...

I owe you a large debt of gratitude for all of your help with my build. Not only the geometry expertise you so graciously provided but just as important were the "talk me back off the ledge" phone calls when things just weren't going right and I was about to throw the towel in on the whole thing. Hot rodding these cars to make them handle isn't easy and sometimes things don't always go as planned. You walked me through those stages perfectly...

Folks, even last Sunday...between sessions on the track, I talked with Ron several times on the phone...giving him my tire temps and pressures, telling him how the car felt, and he offering up suggestions of what to try next. I'm certain I sounded like a rambling idiot the first time or two, but Ron has a way about him of cutting to the chase, breaking things down quickly and moving on. Ron Sutton in action is a form of art and is why he is so good at what he does. It is no wonder to me why he won so many races as a car owner.
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Old 07-23-2014, 09:00 PM
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WIENER WIENER!!!!!

you rocked it
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