OPTIMA Goes to Laguna Seca – The Ultimate Street Car Series Hits One Of The Ultimate Race Tracks


OPTIMA Goes to Laguna Seca – The Ultimate Street Car Series Hits One Of The Ultimate Race Tracks

(Words by Jim McIlvaine, Photos by Kaleb Kelley)

Crack open an incognito window and Google “best race tracks in the world” and Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca will probably make most of the lists. Narrow it down to just the United States and it won’t be absent from anyone of them. The speed, the elevation changes, the iconic corkscrew- Laguna Seca has it all.

It should be no surprise then, that it is always one of the first tracks to sell out on the schedule for the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car series, presented by Advance Auto Parts, but that presents a bit of a conundrum for at least some of the competitors. Big fields full of competitive cars make wins and series points very hard to come by and that was certainly the case here.

If one has a fat enough wallet or searches long enough, they can probably find some kind of series that races at tracks like Laguna Seca, where just showing up guarantees a podium finish and in many cases, taking the green flag guarantees P1 in class. Crop the empty podium out, toss the photo up on Facebook and wait for the ego-stroking to commence.

That wasn’t the case here. The smallest class on this weekend, the Geaux Moto GTC Class has four entries and three classes had 14 or more. Wins aside, that makes it difficult for anyone in the field to accumulate points, which are coveted for season-long points battles. Competitors West of the Rocky Mountains get three shots- Thunderhill, Laguna Seca and Portland International Raceway. Have a bad weekend at one and the other two become critically important. Miss or stumble on two and the next closest track on the schedule is Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

That puts a lot of pressure on those looking to earn an invitation to the SEMA Show and OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) in Las Vegas. Matt Ramirez’s 2004 Mustang came into Laguna Seca clinging to a one-point lead over Dave Schotz’s Camaro and a two-point lead over Austin Barnes’ Mustang in the Viking Performance GT Class. Ramirez ran strong all weekend and had the fifth-highest point total (points are awarded in segments, regardless of class affiliation), but he still finished third in class, behind the defending champion Schotz and John Falkner’s 2021 Camaro.

Schotz came away with the points lead and now looks to continue running the gauntlet at Road America, where Austin Barnes’ Mustang will be making his second appearance of the season. Ramirez will look to reel Schotz in later this summer at Portland International Raceway, but if things get tight, the final two tracks are nearly in the Atlantic Ocean at Summit Point and VIRginia International Raceway.

In the After Dark Speed GTS Class, two-time and defending OUSCI champion, Bob Sobey’s 2012 Nissan GT-R held a 13-point advantage over Jordan Priestley’s ’21 Tesla Model 3 after Thunderhill and both competitors came to square off again at Laguna Seca. Wet track conditions on the first session of the Falken Tire Road Course Time Trial hurt all the EVs. Sobey wasn’t at his best either but was still faster than all but seven cars in the field and that created a gap Priestley couldn’t overcome in any of the other segments.

Sobey did show some vulnerability though, as his total in overall points on the weekend was just a single point more than Schotz’s Camaro. Historically, if you can put up 490 points at a regular season event, you must be on the short list of contenders for the OUSCI title, where no car has scored 490 or more points since 2019. Schotz now joins Sobey as the only two to have accomplished that feat in the last two seasons, but Chris Smith’s ’70 Camaro will look to join them at Road America.

Grabbing a lot of points at Road America won’t be an easy feat either, as the current registration for that track sits at 95 entries, including four Teslas, which have proven to be the cars to beat on the Classic Car Liquidators Autocross and the Peak Performance Challenge. Win those segments in any class outside of GTS at Road America and finish behind the Teslas and you’re already at 492 points on the weekend, even if you take the top overall spot on the road course and in the Wynrock Speed Shop Design & Engineering Challenge.

Nothing comes easy in this series, but if you can make it to the top of the mountain, the rewards are great, especially now that Racetreads.com has come onboard and offered up a free set of tires for every class winner and Summit Racing Spirit of the Event invitee for the rest of the season! It’s not to late to get in on the action, regardless of where you live. Head over to “http://www.driveoptima.com”www.driveoptima.com, check out the rules and sign up to run your street car or truck!

Top Ten Overall

1. Bob Sobey 2013 Nissan GT-R GTS 492 points

2. Dave Schotz 2022 Chevrolet Camaro GT 491 points

3. Lane Farka 2015 Porsche GT3 GTL 481 points

4. John Falkner 2021 Chevrolet Camaro GT 481 points

5. Matt Ramirez 2004 Ford Mustang GT 474 points

6. Jordan Priestley 2021 Tesla Model 3 GTS 471 points

7. CB Ramey 2024 Chevrolet Corvette GTS 460 points

8. Brandon Hurst 2021 Tesla Model S GTS 456 points

9. Bryan Reilly 2018 Chevrolet Camaro GT 453 points

10. Jake Jackson 2018 Chevrolet Camaro GT 451 points

2024 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Schedule

February 23-25th Sebring Raceway

March 1-3rd Thunderhill Raceway

May 3-5th Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca

June 28-30th Road America

July 26-28th Portland International Raceway

August 16-18th Summit Point Motorsports Park

October 4-6th VIRginia International Raceway

QA1 First Timer Award- Scott Lezchuk 2020 Tesla Model 3

Anderson Composites Competitor’s Choice Award- Keith Corrigan 1955 Ford Thunderbird

Operational Speed Supply Most-Improved Driver- Matthew Waeckerle 2005 Lotus Elise


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