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Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational 2015: Fords Chase OUSCI Title
Fords Chase the Ultimate Street Car Title: The Blue Oval Brigade has captured the title just once in seven years. Would 2015 bring about change?
OPTIMA's Ultimate Street Car Invitational, presented by K&N Filters, was conceived at the SEMA Show and the concept was fairly straightforward- could the cars at this industry showcase actually be driven hard on a track or were they just show queens? Fewer than 30 cars accepted the first challenge back in 2008 and nearly half the field was unable to finish the weekend. The event has expanded considerably since then, moving to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the process and now includes a year-long qualifying series that visits tracks all around the country and boasts national TV coverage.
In the second year of the OUSCI, Bruce Cambern's Shelby Cobra won in such convincing fashion, that rule changes were brought about regarding driver eligibility and tire tread wear requirements (at least 200). Ford hasn't been back to the top of the podium since, but not for a lack of effort. The 2015 OUSCI saw more than a dozen Fords and one Mercury in a field that had more than 90 contenders and 81 vehicles completing the five-event format. Danny Popp's Corvette once again took the top spot, holding off an all-out assault from a variety of all-wheel drive contenders.
The competition is absolutely ferocious and there is only one winner at the end of the weekend. While the Las Vegas Motor Speedway venue remained the same, the Detroit Speed Autocross and Wilwood Speed Stop Challenge were re-located on the property. The Falken Road Course Time Trial used the same course as 2014, so there is some basis for comparison. The fastest lap time last year was a 1:43.593. This year, four competitors eclipsed that time. The difference was even more pronounced throughout the field, as a 1:50.199 lap time that would've been good enough for a top-20 finish last year, wouldn't even place in the top-30 this year.
This all came the year after new aero rules eliminated massive aftermarket wings and spoilers that many thought would significantly slow down the field. Help is on the way for the Ford camp, as several competitors have their eyes on the new Shelby GT350R and the Focus RS has the potential to compete with many of the Evos that have been making a name for themselves in these events. There is also hope a new GT owner will have the gumption and chops behind the wheel to make a solid showing somewhere down the road as Bruce Cambern did with his GT back in 2010.
Dates and locations for the 2016 qualifying series have already been announced and the opportunity is there for anyone who wants to bring out their version of the ultimate street car and see how it stacks up against the competition. Visit www.driveoptima.com for more information.
Thunderhill (CA), February 27-28
Palm Beach International Raceway, April 9-10
Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 23-24
New Jersey Motorsports Park, May 21-22
Charlotte Motor Speedway, July 30-31
Circuit of the Americas, August 6-7
Road America, August 27-28
New Orleans Motorsports Park, September 17-18
Auto Club Speedway, October 8-9
2016 OUSCI (Invitation-only) Las Vegas Motor Speedway, November 5-6