The Ultimate Power Source ™

OPTIMA Invitational

Posted: Dec 18, 2014

2014 OUSCI Recap- Martin Pond's 1980 Ford Fairmont

p-Martin-Pond-1980-Ford-Fairmont-OPTIMA-Ultimate-Street-Car-Invitational-2014-BFGoodrich-Hot-Lap-Challenge_98.jpgWhat kind of cars and trucks compete in the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational, presented by KN Filters? All kinds. Case in point- Martin Pond's 1980 Ford Fairmont. Pond picked up an invite to the 2014 OUSCI at the first Ultimate Street Car Association event, which was held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and opened a few eyes in the process.

While the Fairmont was never a popular choice among Ford performance fans, it does share the same Fox Body platform as it's far more popular cousin, the Mustang. That means many of the modifications that can be made to Mustangs of that era can also be made to work on Fairmonts. To that end, Martin upgraded the stock mill to a 408 cubic-inch Windsor, producing over 500 horsepower. Obviously brakes, wheels, tires and the suspension have all received significant upgrades as well, although the gray paint job downplays what lurks within.

Pond had so much fun at the first USCA event, we ended up seeing him again at the California Speedway and Portland International USCA events. Even though he was a lock for the OUSCI already, those events offered him valuable practice time, especially on the Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed Stop in Portland, which was one of the USCA events that gave a glimpse of what was to come in that event in Las Vegas. The weeks leading up to SEMA were a mad thrash and we saw pictures of engine parts and read stories on Facebook about all the last-minute work Pond had to finish on the car, just to get it to SEMA in time.

With that struggle in his rear view mirror, Martin's goals for the week were simple- "Do the best I could and be able to put the car in the trailer under it's own power at the end of the weekend (as well as get some TV time for me and my sponsors)." While the Detroit Speed Road Rally is often viewed as "easy" points in USCA and OUSCI events, that is definitely not the case for all competitors, including Pond. "I had a major overheating issue on the cruise Saturday night, when I had an electrical connection fail to my electric fan," says Martin. He was able to remedy the situation and make it to the final stop at Shelby American world headquarters, but knew he had dodged a bullet.

It wasn't his first issue of the weekend though. "I was using the heck out of the fan, trying to keep the car cool in between runs and when I killed the engine during the stop of my final run of the day in the Speed Stop, I didn't have enough juice in the battery to get it started," says Martin. "I had to have it push-started in front of the crowd, which was mostly Chevy people, that's embarrassing!"

Even with those hiccups, Pond still ran consistently all weekend long and was able to drive his car onto his trailer under it's own power. In the Lingenfelter Performance Design Challenge, the Fairmont was one of four vehicles to tie for 52nd place. On the RideTech Street Challenge Autocross, the Ford was one of seven vehicles to run 47.x times and Martin finished in the middle of that pack and 71st in the event with a best combined time on the mirrored courses of 47.334. His performance was even better in the Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed Stop Challenge, where he was once again in the middle of a pack of five vehicles that all posted 16.1x times, with Pond ending up in 61st place.

Martin's strongest track performance came in the BF Goodrich Hot Lap Challenge, where he led another pack of 1:59.x lap times, placing 61st for the event and 74th for the weekend. Satisfied with his performance, Pond wouldn't change a thing in how he prepared for the event. However, that doesn't mean he'd do the entire week the same way next year. "The only thing I would do differently is go through the SEMA show with no more than one other person, so that I could absorb more of the overwhelming automotive coolness the show had to offer," says Pond. "That and maybe avoid the naked bathers at TAO hahaha!!!!!!!" Aren't you supposed to leave those stories in Vegas, Martin?

"I felt out-classed by the field of cars at the event, but the people were amazing and made the competition FUN," says Pond. "I think I showed a few people the back end of a Fairmont and they did not expect that, but the big surprise for me was the amount of track time we had. It was like a regular track day with five sessions and Event Directpr, Jimi Day, did an amazing job of pairing the groups with similar-performing cars, without any prior time at this track to use for comparison."

Competitors who most surprised and impressed Pond include Wes Drelleshak's 1959 Chevy Apache and JF Launier's Ridler-winning 1964 Buick Riviera. "Wes and his truck always surprise me," says Martin. "It was also great to see the Ridler award-winning Buick get run hard on a track." Martin would encourage future competitors to enjoy every moment of the OUSCI, because it goes by really fast. He also has a rather extensive "thank you" list, starting with his wife, Julie, who never complained about all the time he spent running all the events or the money he spent to repair his unexpected engine breakage right before the SEMA Show. "She is an amazing person and made doing this event that much more fun," says Martin.

His other thanks goes to sponsors Maximum Motorsports (incredible products that not only fit right out of the box, but turned my lowly Fairmont into a real contender), Performance Software for their generous financial support, Alameda Collision Repair, Jongbloed Racing Wheels, Bay Bolt, Oakland Machine, Little House Cafe, Ethan's Service Plumbing and of course his own business (that he always seems to forget to mention during interviews), Tidewater Tire.

Martin tells us we haven't seen the last of him or his fleet of Fox Bodies either. "Currently, I am working on a Mercury Zephyr wagon to prepare for the USCA events in 2015," says Pond. "I took both cars to Laguna Seca because I didn't know which car to run in the event and chose the Fairmont, which worked in my favor." We can't wait to see what he has in store for 2015!

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