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OPTIMA Invitational

Posted: Oct 15, 2013

2013 OUSCI Preview- George Poteet's 1969 Ford Torino

George-Poteet-1969-Ford-Torino-OUSCI.jpgGeorge Poteet is a hotrodder's hotrodder and a rarity of the automotive world. Poteet's vast collection of cars have graced the pages of every significant automotive enthusiast magazine for more than a decade now and during that time, he has helped many of the country's top builders establish a reputation for themselves, by commissioning them to build cars most customers simply aren't capable of financing.

Usually when a collector/enthusiast becomes so well-known, a certain segment of the population will emerge to offer criticism in some fashion. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who has anything negative to say about Poteet or the cars in his enormous garage. Even the H.A.M.B. board managed to have a thread about Poteet run more than a half dozen pages without a single negative word posted (that could be a first in the history of all internet message boards). They love the cars he loves, they love his taste in re-building them, they love that he drives them and races them, they love that he shares them with so many fellow enthusiasts. They love him enough that some suggested he should run for office. In short, they love the fact that George Poteet is doing exactly what they'd all be doing, if they had the same resources at their disposal.

Even though getting into the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational, presented by Royal Purple and KN Filters is one of the toughest tasks to accomplish in the automotive aftermarket, Poteet mentioned getting an invite to Hot Rod magazine over a year ago, as if it were a given. How could he be so confident without coming off as being arrogant? Because Poteet's stuff is simply that good and everyone knows it. The Torino was going to be so good, Troy Trepanier of Rad Rides displayed the car in bare metal at the 2012 Grand National Roadster Show.

There are several ways to get into the OUSCI- qualifying events, at-large invitations, sponsorship invites, and being picked off the SEMA Show floor are where most competitors originate. However, only one invitation is extended each year to the winner of the Goodguys OPTIMA Street Machine of the Year and even that invite is no guarantee the car will make it to Pahrump (last year's SMOTY winner ended up backing out). If anyone was going to get in the hard way, it was Poteet and that's exactly what happened when his 1969 Ford Torino picked up top honors in Columbus (an event that now requires autocrossing as part of the competition).

Trepanier will handle driving duties in Pahrump, but not because Poteet is afraid to get behind the wheel. If fact, Poteet just set a new land-speed record at Bonneville this year, running well over 400 mph (you can read about Poteet's racing exploits here). Having Trepanier drive will give Rad Rides more exposure on TV (for the last two hotrodders who never heard of them).

As for the car, every square inch of it could be considered hand-crafted automotive art, inside and out. Hot Rod's summary could probably better describe all the incredible craftsmanship and fabrication that was involved in this car's construction than we ever could, but we'll be happy to cover some of the highlights and changes that may have taken place since that article ran last year.

There was talk in the article that the super-rare Boss 429 with an even rarer, experimental mechanical fuel injection system was going to be replaced with a newer Ford block Kaase heads, built by Bob Sweeney at FX Engines in Mokena, Illinois. That appears to have happened, as the information Trepanier supplied indicated the powerplant is now an FX-built 529, featuring Rad Rides digital injection and producing 700 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque.

Gears are shifted with a Bowler-prepped Tremec five-speed, mated to a Spec clutch and 3.90 gears through a Mark Williams nine-inch rearend and into 20-inch wheels from Billet Specialties. Wilwood brakes are mounted on all four corners and a Flowmaster exhaust system is tucked underneath an Art Morrison chassis outfitted with Rad Rides suspension upgrades.

Last year, 25 points in the OUSCI was good enough for 23rd-place overall. That also happens to be the amount of points awarded for the winner of the Lingenfelter Performance Design Challenge. There's no guarantee the judges will pick the Torino as the top car in that competition, but it'll likely be in strong consideration. Add in an additional 10 points for completing the Detroit Speed Road Rally and 35 points last year was good enough for a top-15 finish.

Just doing the math, Poteet's Torino is likely to be a lock for a top-20 finish if it just makes it to Pahrump. If Trepanier can coax some decent times out of it on the track, the sky is the limit. Like meeting it's owner, seeing Poteet's Torino in person is likely to be an experience any car guy will remember, relish and re-tell countless times in subsequent years. You can get to know the man behind the car by reading this profile on him, but you probably won't have a better opportunity to see the Torino in person and in action, than at the 2013 OUSCI. Buy your tickets today!

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