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OPTIMA’s Wet Search For The Ultimate Street Car: Real Street Cars Run In The Rain

OPTIMA’s Wet Search For The Ultimate Street Car: Real Street Cars Run In The Rain

(Words By Jim McIlvaine) There is a certain segment of automotive enthusiasts, who brag about owning cars that have “never been in the rain.” They only take their cars out when the forecast says it will be dry and they bring along their custom-made car cover, just in case. There’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s what they enjoy doing. With non-stop attacks on the future of the internal combustion engine and the people who love them, the automotive aftermarket needs every enthusiast it can get. However, the cars and drivers that compete in OPTIMA’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car, presented by Advance Auto Parts, are not in that group of enthusiasts.

These cars are every bit the equal of anything you’ll see at the SEMA Show (and many have been on display there before), but most are far from bone-stock, they expect them to get rock chips, cone rash and caked with brake dust and they don’t even flinch at the prospect of rain. Unless lightning is in the area, this series runs in just about any weather conditions, which has included light snow flurries. Fortunately for those competing in the regular season finale at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, competitors just had to deal with some rain.

For some, it was the last chance to grab crucial points or possibly even an outright invitation to the 2020 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI), which even a pandemic cannot stop. The SEMA Show may be shelved for this year, but the OUSCI will take place during the Hi-Performance Expo at Circuit of the Americas on November 2nd & 3rd.

Why weekdays for this event? Because by the time the plug was pulled on the SEMA Show, those were the dates COTA had available. Most of the competitors had those dates planned for a trip to Vegas anyway and most of the fans who watch the OUSCI catch it on MAVTV on Friday nights at 8PM ET/PT, so it’s full steam ahead. However, if you happen to live near Circuit of the Americas, you’ll definitely want to check this event out. There will be a lot going on, including a winner-take-all autocross on November 1st, that could be worth up to $25,000, drift exhibitions and ride-alongs with Tanner Foust, Vaughn Gittin Jr, Cleetus McFarland & more! Check out www.hiperformanceexpo.com for all the specifics and check out this massive gallery of images from NCM Motorsports Park, to see a preview of some of the cars that will be competing for the Ultimate Street Car title.

GT Class (post-1989, 3,200+ pounds, 2wd sedans, 4-seater coupes, trucks, etc…)
1. Cliff Elliott, 2016 Ford Mustang
2. Robert Weathers, 2018 Chevrolet Camaro
3. James Thomas, 2016 Ford Mustang

Classic Car Liquidators GTV Class (pre-1990, 3200+ pounds)
1. Jason Bottenfield, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
2. Jim Stehlin, 1973 Chevrolet Camaro
3. Tom Farrington, 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle

GTS Class (post-1989, 3200+ pounds, two-seaters & awd vehicles)
1. Ryan Mathews, 2002 Chevrolet Corvette
2. Alex Peitz, 2020 Chevrolet Corvette
3. Chris Neal, 2014 Chevrolet Corvette

Holley EFI GTL Class (non-compacts under 3200 pounds)
1. Paul Curley, 2003 Chevrolet Corvette
2. Richard Forsythe, 2008 Chevrolet Corvette
3. Jacob Fisher, 1985 Porsche 944

GTE Class (Electric vehicles, no hybrids)
1. John Laughlin, 2019 Tesla Model 3

GTC Class (two-wheel drive compacts, 107-inch wheelbase or less)
1. Brian Johns, 1993 Mazda RX-7
2. Douglas Wind, 2004 Dodge SRT-4
3. Dallas Reed, 2004 Mazda RX-8

Outlaw Class (relaxed aero rules, pro drivers allowed)
1. Matt Busby, 2002 Chevrolet Corvette
2. Adam Ulrich, 2001 Chevrolet Corvette
3. Brian Tyson, 2013 Chevrolet Corvette

Spirit of the Event Award:
Sam Schmidt, 2020 Chevrolet Corvette

2020 OPTIMA Search for the Ultimate Street Car Schedule
Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 14-15
Willow Springs International Raceway May 29-30
Pike’s Peak International Raceway July 11-12
Atlanta Motorsports Park July 25-26
Road America August 14-15
NOLA Motorsports Park September 19-20
NCM Motorsports Park October 10-11
OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational at COTA November 2-3

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