Jim McIlvaine
July 26, 2019
Contributers: Jim McIlvaine

 

Fords are definitely in the minority in OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car, presented by Advance Auto Parts, but what they lack in quantity, they tend to make up in quality. Case in point, the Classic Car Liquidators GTV Class, which saw just saw two Blue Ovals enter at Pike's Peak. John McKissack's 1966 Fairlane didn't win the class, but he emerged as the new class points leader with a trail of 14 GM vehicles now pursuing him. Even if they catch him in one of the three remaining events, McKissack has now positioned himself well for an at-large entry into the OUSCI with three solid performances.

The series also saw a first-time entry in Mike Trenkle's 1982 Mustang. Trenkle was formerly a long-time volunteer in the series, but finally put together a car to campaign. His positive attitude & approach were rewarded with the Spectre Spirit of the Event invitation to Las Vegas. The bulk of Ford entries typically find their way into the GT Class, where the Mustangs and Camaros go to battle, but on this weekend, the series saw a surprise entry in the GTC Class in Jordan Cooke's 2015 Focus ST. Cooke had previously-competed at Las Vegas in his Mitsubishi Evo, but when that proved not to be ready, his wife's ST was pressed into duty and performed admirably against some seasoned competitors.

More than a dozen Mustangs went to battle in the GT Class for late-model, four-seat coupes and sedans, and while they didn't get the win, they did get some favorable results. Jonathan Blevins' 2008 GT500 came up just three points short of the win, covering Tony Scalici, but moved himself into a good position to overtake Scalici in the points chase, with another strong finish.

Five Mustangs now sit inside the top ten in points, although none are currently higher than fifth-place Kong Chang's 2017 GT350. We expect that could change significantly at the next stop at Road America. If Blevins posts a 429 or higher (and Scalici doesn't improve his point total), he would move ahead of the current points leader, possibly into the overall lead.

Road America will offer a slightly different format in that the event will take place on Friday and Saturday, instead of the usual weekend schedule. That allowed the series to move their date into the summer, versus the late-fall date they had been running in the past. So, if you're in the area and plan on spectating, be sure to put in for a day off on August 16th now. You can also catch up on the series every weekend on MAVTV, as the show typically airs throughout the weekend, starting Friday nights at 8PM Eastern.

 

Classic Car Liquidators GTV Class (Pre-1990, 3,200+ pounds)

  1. Brian Hobaugh, 1973 Chevrolet Camaro
  2. Eric Sheely, 1972 Chevrolet Corvette
  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. Steve Kepler, 2013 Nissan GT-R

Holley EFI GTL Class (Non-compacts under 3,200 pounds)

  1. Mike DuSold, 1967 Chevrolet Camaro
    2. Lynn Proctor, 2005 Dodge Viper
    3. Carrie Willhoff, 2010 Chevrolet Corvette

OPTIMA Chargers GTE Class (BEV electric vehicles)

  1. Karen Thomas, 2018 Tesla X
    2. Vernon Jolley, 2015 Chevrolet Spark

GTC Class (Two-wheel drive compacts, 107-inch wheelbase or less)

  1. Thomas Litton, 1997 Mazda Miata
  2. David Stock, 2006 Mazda Miata
  3. Jordan Cooke, 2015 Focus ST

Optima Batteries GT Class (Post-1989, 3,200+ pounds, 2wd sedans, 4-seater coupes, trucks, etc... )

  1. Tony Scalici, 2018 Chevrolet Camaro
  2. Jonathan Blevins, 2008 Mustang
  3. Wes Drelleshak, 2018 Chevrolet Camaro

Outlaw Class (Relaxed aero rules, pro drivers allowed)

  1. Jeremy Swenson, 2011 Chevrolet Corvette
    2. Cody Mason, 2018 Chevrolet Corvette

 

Spectre Performance Spirit of the Event Award

Mike Trenkle, 1982 Mustang

2019 OPTIMA Search for the Ultimate Street Car Schedule

 

Auto Club Speedway September 14-15
NOLA Motorsports Park October 5-6

OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational November 9-10

 

Cliff Elliott's 2016 Mustang clinched its Vegas invite earlier this year at Daytona, but he's still looking for a strong showing in the points chase. He certainly has a car/driver combination that can challenge for the championship with another strong finish.
Most times when the series visits this track, they are met with near triple-digit temps. However, the weather on this weekend was comfortably in the high 70s and even had a little light rain that forced the driver's meeting into the garage.
Matt Ramirez is based in Southern California, but is looking to qualify for Las Vegas this year. He missed the Vegas qualifier earlier this season, so he made the long haul to PPIR and plans to make an even longer haul to NOLA Motorsports Park later this season. Repeat performances of his run in Colorado should make him a lock for earning an invite, although he's just happy for a weekend where the car doesn't go up on jack stands.
Fox body Mustangs fall in between the GTV and GT Class, depending on their year of production (pre-1990 go to GTV). That can make them either very competitive in one class or up against some serious modern power in the other. None of that mattered for Mike Trenkle's 1982 Mustang, as he punched his ticket to Vegas with the Spectre Performance Spirit of the Event invitation.
John McKissack's 1966 Fairlane is the Classic Car Liquidators GTV Class points leader after the first four events. Whether he stays there or not remains to be seen, but he's going to bask in the glory as long as the sun is shining.
Jonathan Blevins put a serious run on for the GT Class points championship last season and came up just short in the final event. He's positioning himself to make another strong run in 2019 and we expect him to be in the mix down to the end once again.
When Jordan Cooke's Mitsubishi Evo gave him lemons, he turned them into Focus ST lemonade, bringing his wife's car out to PPIR instead. Interestingly enough, Cooke ran it well enough, that if he brought it out to another event, it could end up qualifying for the OUSCI at the end of the year.
Because of the way the schedule is laid out, many West Coast competitors are laying in the weeds after the first four events and probably will continue to do so until the series returns to Fontana, California. Paul Molina's 2017 Mustang is one of those cars that could rise up and win his class at his next event or at the very least almost certainly move into the top ten in points and qualify for the OUSCI.
Nasario Birrueta is piloting a new ride in 2019 and after three events, he sits in sixth place in points. However, that is not likely to last and Nasario knows if he wants a points entry, he'll need to turn in a strong performance in Fontana.
You wouldn't know it by looking at it, but Saroja Day's 2010 Mustang is one of the most-unique sounding cars in the series, thanks to her PPG sequential gearbox.

Step By Step

View Photo Gallery
012 1019018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2

Photography by Jim McIlvaine