Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsEvents
OPTIMA's 2018 Search for the Ultimate Street Car Begins
Season Five Heats up in Vegas
From beginning to end, OPTIMA Batteries' annual search for the ultimate street car takes about eight months. The qualifying series saw it's first stop in mid-March at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and will visit tracks in six other states before returning to LVMS in early-November for the 11th annual OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI). Most of these events sell out to competitors months in advance and the vehicles that show up aren't just track-capable street cars, but some of the very nicest examples to be found anywhere.
The series divides cars and trucks into six different classes, based on combinations of age, weight and drivetrain. There's even a class for EVs, so if you have a Focus Electric, bring it out and have some fun! Each class awards an invitation to the SEMA Show and OUSCI at each event and the QA1 GTV Class features pre-1990 cars and trucks that weigh over 3,200 pounds. While many think of early Pro Touring Fastbacks in this class, the 1989 cutoff allows most of the Fox-body generation to run with the older generations. Two showed up at Vegas in Curt Croshaw's 1986 Mustang and Joe Ayad's 1987 Mustang. Both made their rookie debuts and could return later in the season at Auto Club Speedway.
The top Ford in the vintage class in Vegas ended up being Matt Alcala's '65 Fastback, which is one of several different vehicles Alcala has run in the series over the years. Alcala's experience was evident, as the car was well-prepped for the Lingenfelter Design & Engineering Challenge, finishing 11th out of 79 entries, helping him capture a top ten finish in his class.
The Recaro GTS Class covers late-model two-seat coupes and all-wheel drive sedans over 3,200 pounds, which means lots of Vettes, Vipers and GT-Rs, but it's also become popular with Focus RS owners. Five competed in the series last season and Wes Drelleshak returned to Vegas in his 2016 Focus RS, finishing 11th out of 18 entries. Drelleshak has run a variety of vehicles in the series and is scheduled for two more events in 2018, so we'll see if he sticks with the RS or hops into a different ride later in the year.
The Franklin Road Apparel GT Class is where most of the Fords reside and 16 of the 24 cars running in that class were some variation of Mustangs. Mike Maier's 2017 GT was the class of the herd, posting top 25 overall finishes in all the timed segments en route to a runner-up finish in the class.
Nearly 300 different cars and trucks are set to run in the series during the 2018 season and a few spots still remain at NOLA Motorsports Park and Auto Club Speedway later in the season. If you're interested in competing or just spectating for free, check out www.DriveOPTIMA.com for more information.
QA1 GTV Class
(Pre-1990; 3,200+ pounds)
1. Chad Ryker, 1968 Chevrolet Camaro
2. Nick Relampagos, 1970 Chevrolet Camaro
3. Efrain Diaz, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
RECARO GTS Class
(Post-1989; 3,200+ pounds, two-seaters & awd vehicles)
1. Austin Barnes, 2010 Dodge Viper
2. Jordan Priestley, 2017 Chevrolet Corvette
3. Brandon Williams, 2009 Nissan GT-R
Holley EFI GTL Class
(Non-compacts under 3,200 pounds)
1. Ken Thwaits, 2006 Mitsubishi Evo
2. Rich Willhoff, 2006 Chevrolet Corvette
3. Duke Langley, 2002 Chevrolet Corvette
(BEV electric vehicles)
1. Matthew Scott, 2017 Hyundai Ioniq
(Two-wheel drive compacts, 107-inch wheelbase or less)
1. Kevin Schultz, 2008 Honda S2000
2. Sammy Valafar, 2004 Mazda Miata
3. Matt Trainham, 2018 Hyundai Veloster
Franklin Road Apparel GT Class
(Post-1989; 3,200+ pounds, 2wd sedans, four-seater coupes, trucks, etc...)
1. Eric Sheely, 2018 Chevrolet Camaro
2. Mike Maier, 2017 Ford Mustang
3. Chad Langley, 2018 Chevrolet Camaro
SPECTRE Performance Spirit of the Event Award: Duke Langley, 2002 Chevrolet Camaro
2018 OPTIMA Search for the Ultimate Street Car Schedule
Las Vegas Motor Speedway: March 17-19
New Orleans Motorsports Park: April 14-15
National Corvette Museum: June 2-3
Pike's Peak International Raceway: July 7-8
Barber Motorsports Park : August 4-5
Auto Club Speedway: September 15-16
Road America: October 6-7
OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational: November 4-5