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OPTIMA Invitational

Posted: Nov 28, 2017

OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational Champions

Ten years of OPTIMA's Ultimate Street Car Invitational competition are now in the books and while it seems like the event is relatively-new, it already has a significant amount of history behind it, from iconic cars to some of the most well-known owners and drivers in the automotive aftermarket. There is also a steady stream of folks who are new to the OUSCI, the cars and drivers, who don't know the full history of the event.

The origins of the event began at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the annual trade show for the automotive aftermarket. It was there that OPTIMA's Director of Product Development and Marketing, Cam Douglass, asked FM3 Performance Marketing's Jimi Day, how many of the cars on display at the SEMA Show could actually be driven on the street and enjoyed on the track?

In 2008, they set out to find the answer and invited a select few vehicles from the SEMA Show to come out to Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch after the show and battle it out on the track. Many didn't survive the weekend, but it was clear that the event asked and answered important questions about the vehicles on display at the SEMA Show and there was tremendous interest generated by the event. While the format has gone through some modifications over the years, the core of what comprises the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational has remained the same- a road rally on public roads, an autocross competition, a time trial on a road course, a design & engineering competition and a speed-stop competition.

In addition to invitations being handed out to vehicles on display at the SEMA Show in the early years, other invitations were extended to well-built, street-legal cars and trucks that had proven themselves capable of being driven hard at events around the country. These included open road races, like the Silver State Classic Challenge and Sandhills Open Road Challenge, as well as regional one-off events, that had similar formats to the OUSCI, including the OPTIMA Faceoff at Road America, Holley's LSFest, Run to the Coast and the Motorstate Challenge. As required by the rules of this event, all entries were required to be on display at the SEMA Show all week long. Television coverage soon became a fixture of the event, with former wrestler, Bill Goldberg, serving as host for specials that aired on SPEED, along with co-hosts Jamie Howe, Adrienne Janic and Amanda Salas.

Major changes arrived in 2014, as the OUSCI switched venues, moving to Las Vegas Motor Speedway and added a full-blown qualifying series- OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car. Bangshift.com's Chad Reynolds became the host of the series, joined by co-host Katie Osborne and qualifying events were scheduled at ten tracks around the country, all of which were filmed for broadcast on a new TV network home, MAVTV. The majority of the entries in the OUSCI now come through those qualifying events, although one-off entries are still extended at select events, like Holley's LSFest and the Motorstate Challenge. Up to ten invitations are also awarded to vehicles on display at the SEMA Show and all the vehicles that run in the OUSCI are on display all week long at the SEMA Show, many of them located in OPTIMA Alley, in between North Hall and the Westgate Hotel.

In 2016, all past episodes of the series airing on MAVTV became available on the OPTIMA Network on Roku and Amazon Fire, which are both free downloads. For more information on the qualifying series, please visit www.DriveOPTIMA.com. Below you will find the list of all the past champions of the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational-

Year

Vehicle

Owner

Driver

2008

1968 Chevrolet Camaro

Steven Rupp

Steven Rupp

2009

1966 Shelby Cobra

Bruce Cambern

Jim McKamey

2010

1969 Chevrolet Camaro

Mark Stielow

Mark Stielow

2011

2006 Chevrolet Corvette

Todd Rumpke

Danny Popp

2012

1967 Chevrolet Camaro

Mark Stielow

Mark Stielow

2013

1965 Chevrolet Corvette

Brian Hobaugh

Brian Hobaugh

2014

2003 Chevrolet Corvette

Danny Popp

Danny Popp

2015

2003 Chevrolet Corvette

Danny Popp

Danny Popp

2016

2003 Chevrolet Corvette

Danny Popp

Danny Popp

2017

2006 Mitsubishi Evo

Ken Thwaits

Ken Thwaits


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