With races being cancelled or postponed in so many locations this year, Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car series has been incredibly fortunate to be able to get in their races. But being the first event of the season that was East of the Mississippi, the east coast racers were clamoring to get to Atlanta Motorsports Park to battle it out. Dawsonville Georgia is home to this awesome, and incredibly scenic, race track that is an absolute riot to throw hot rods around on. And what a group there was this weekend! I can’t believe the number of serious players that made the trip to this one, but thanks to the Kaleb Kelley we’ve got all the photos to share with you from the event. Plus we’ve got a complete weekend recap below as well! So read on, and big thanks to Optima Jim for sending this in for all to enjoy!
CHECK OUT A FULL GALLERY OF PHOTOS BELOW, AND CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO MAKE IT LARGER AND TO CLICK THROUGH THEM ALL IN A SLIDESHOW
(Words By Jim McIlvaine, Photos by Kaleb Kelley)
Seven events make up OPTIMA’s 2020 Search for the Ultimate Street Car series, presented by Advance Auto Parts. The top contenders in seven different classes from those seven events are all invited to the SEMA Show and the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational in Las Vegas at the end of the year. As luck would have it, the first three events of the 2020 season all took place West of the Mississippi river, so it took until late-July before the series finally ran an event for the “Back East” folks.
Atlanta Motorsports Park was the venue in beautiful Dawsonville, Georgia, home of NASCAR’s Elliott clan and the action was intense! A competitor’s best three events count toward their season-long point total and GTS Class leader, Austin Barnes was riding a 15-event winning streak. That came to an abrupt stop when his ’09 Corvette refused to do the same. Austin and his Vette are both a little sandy, but otherwise fine and he still has the high watermark for points in the series.
Chris Smith’s ’70 Camaro posted a solid win, as he looks to reel in CB Ramey’s C4 Corvette in the Classic Car Liquidators GTV Class and defending GTE Class champion, John Laughlin’s Tesla Model 3 set a series record for points with a 475-point performance.
The DriveOPTIMA series is designed for amateur competitors, although professionals are allowed to run in the Outlaw Class. Eric Fleming is no pro, but he drove like one taking home the Outlaw Class hardware for the weekend. However, Vegas wasn’t in the cards for him this year, so the invitation to compete for the Outlaw Cup went to runner-up, Adam Ulrich’s ’01 Corvette.
Brian Johns continued his dominance of the GTC Class in the largest field of the year for those entries and was also joined by his wife, Tara, who had a rookie outing in a Mazda Miata. Jonathan Blevins’ ’08 Shelby GT500 bounced back from a rough performance at the Pike’s Peak event to take home the class win at AMP and Robert DeuPree’s Lamborghini notched it’s first victory of the year in the Holley EFI GTL Class.
Three more events are on the slate, with Road America coming up next. If the series makes a stop near you, be sure to check it out in person and if it doesn’t, be sure to watch the TV series every Friday night at 8PM Eastern on MAVTV. The website where you can learn more about the series and how you can enter your own street car is www.DriveOPTIMA.com
GT Class (post-1989, 3,200+ pounds, 2wd sedans, 4-seater coupes, trucks, etc…)
1. Jonathan Blevins, 2008 Shelby GT500
2. Kong Chang, 2017 Shelby GT350
3. Luke Vigneault, 2011 Dodge Challenger R/T
Classic Car Liquidators GTV Class (pre-1990, 3200+ pounds)
1. Chris Smith, 1970 Chevrolet Camaro
2. Cody Puckett, 1970 Chevrolet Camaro
3. Bret Voelkel, 1967 Chevrolet Camaro
GTS Class (post-1989, 3200+ pounds, two-seaters & awd vehicles)
1. Ryan Mathews, 2002 Chevrolet Corvette
2. Mike Gallagher, 2016 Ford Focus RS
3. Nate Mckeever, 2003 Chevrolet Corvette
GTE Class (Electric vehicles)
1. John Laughlin, 2019 Tesla Model 3
Holley EFI GTL Class (non-compacts under 3200 pounds)
1. Robert DeuPree, 2013 Lamborghini Gallardo
2. Paul Curley, 2003 Chevrolet Corvette ZO6
3. Garry Walsh, 2004 Chevrolet Corvette ZO6
GTC Class (two-wheel drive compacts, 107-inch wheelbase or less)
1. Brian Johns, 1993 Mazda RX-7
2. Darren Garvin, 1973 Datsun 240Z
3. Dayton de la Houssaye, 2016 Mazda MX-5
Outlaw Class (relaxed aero rules, pro drivers allowed)
1. Eric Fleming, 2006 Chevrolet Corvette
2. Adam Ulrich, 2001 Chevrolet Corvette
3. Corrin Tyson, 2009 Honda Civic
Spirit of the Event Award:
Charles Davis, 1973 Chevrolet Camaro
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 November 7-8