Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsEvents
2017 OPTIMA USCA: Wide Open in Wisconsin
2017 OPTIMA USCA
Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, was the seventh and final stop in the regular season of OPTIMA's 2017 Search for the Ultimate Street Car Series. While the series has run at Road America in each of the prior three seasons, 2017 marked the first time the series ran the full course. That included the motorcycle chicane, which helps reduce speed heading into “The Kink,” which has claimed quite a few cars over the years. Even with that precaution, Road America's 4.048-mile circuit is still one of the fastest and most-demanding road courses in the country.
That presented a unique challenge for several competitors, who were looking to qualify for the 2017 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) and saw this track as their last chance to do so. While some, like Mike Gallagher's 2016 Ford Focus RS, were confident they'd make the cut, others, like the Mustang of Vernon Jolley had plenty of work to do in Elkhart Lake. Do you push the limits on an unforgiving track, especially on your first visit?
Jolley started off strong, posting a top-20 overall finish in the Detroit Speed Autocross and a top-30 overall finish in the Lingenfelter Design & Engineering Challenge. Sunday brought new challenges in the PowerStop Speed Stop Challenge and the Falken Tire Road Course Time Trial on the big track. Jolley didn't run as well in those segments and perhaps held back on the road course, but by the end of the weekend, he had run well enough to earn an invitation to the 2017 SEMA Show and OUSCI.
Many others fell short of their goals at Road America, but that was inevitable in a series this competitive and at a track so demanding. Mike Maier's 2017 Mustang continued to make progress toward his goal of toppling three-time Franklin Road Apparel GT Class Champion, Bryan Johnson. Maier's Mustang edged out Ken Thwaits' Camaro by a single point for the class win, but it came at great expense, as Maier's engine let go near the end of the weekend.
Further down the GT standings in fifth place was Cliff Elliott's 2016 Mustang GT, just four points shy of a podium finish. It wasn't exactly the results Elliott was hoping for, but given the challenges dealt to his family by Hurricane Harvey, Cliff felt fortunate to be back on the track and enjoying his car. He solidified his runner-up position in the season-long points chase and locked in his invitation to Las Vegas.
GTV Class (Pre-1990, 3,200+ lb)
1. Larry Woo, 1968 Chevrolet Camaro
2. John Lazorack, 1988 Chrysler Conquest
3. Bryan Hobaugh, 1973 Chevrolet Camaro
Recaro GTS Class (Post-1989, 3,200+ lb, 2-seaters & AWD vehicles)
1. Austin Barnes, 2010 Dodge Viper
2. Jake Rozelle, 2003 Chevrolet Corvette
3. Randy Johnson, 2002 Chevrolet Corvette
Holley EFI GTL Class (Any non-compacts under 3,200 lb, including forced induction vehicles)
1. Robert DeuPree, 2009 Chevrolet Corvette
2. Logan Palmer, 2011 Chevrolet Corvette
3. Chris Jacobs, 2001 Chevolet Corvette
GTC Class (Naturally-aspirated 2WD compacts, 107-inch wheelbase or less)
1. Scott Budisalich, 2006 Honda S2000
2. Erik Vandermey, 2007 Mazda MX-5
3. Glen Barnhouse, 2005 Honda S2000
Franklin Road Apparel GT Class (Post-1989, 3,200+ lb, 2WD sedans, 4-seater coupes, trucks, etc.)
1. Mike Maier, 2017 Mustang
2. Ken Thwaits, 2014 Chevrolet Camaro
3. Mark Golovin, 2001 Chevrolet Camaro
SPECTRE Performance Spirit of the Event Award: Doug Osborn, 2013 Corvette; Justin Hendrickson, 2011 Camaro