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Search for the Ultimate Street Car

Posted: Jan 09, 2018

Austin Barnes' 2010 Dodge Viper ACR

Austin Barnes' 2010 Dodge Viper ACR won the RECARO GTS Class in OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car series and it is a serious contender for the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational title.

Austin Barnes has done so well in OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car series, that folks may not remember when or where we first saw him. Barnes' first run in the series was at Texas Motor Speedway in 2015 and he did it in a Corvette. The following year, Barnes returned to the series at Circuit of the Americas in his 2012 Mitsubishi Evo. It was a massive field of incredible vehicles and top-notch drivers, but Austin managed a fourth-place finish behind Curt Trawick's 2016 Porsche GT3 RS, 2013 OUSCI Champion Brian Hobaugh's '03 Corvette and multi-time SCCA national champion, Andy Hollis' 2012 McLaren 12C.

Barnes returned again in 2016 at the regular season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This time, it was Barnes who topped another multi-time SCCA national champion, in Scott Fraser, who was piloting a 2014 Porsche GT3, earning a 17th place finish in the RECARO GTS Class points championship for the season and an invitation to the 2016 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI). Barnes stepped it up again in Vegas, finishing ninth overall, bolstered by a runner-up finish in the PowerStop Speed Stop Challenge and a fifth-place finish on the Detroit Speed Autocross.

The 2017 regular season opened up for Austin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where his Evo finished a distant 15th, missing the Falken Tire Road Course Time Trial entirely. Barnes shifted gears and rides for his next appearance, arriving at Pike's Peak International Raceway in a 2010 Dodge Viper ACR. The new ride was an instance success, topping the field and catapulting Barnes into a points chase for the RECARO GTS Class Championship. Jake Rozelle's Corvette got the best of the Viper at Auto Club Speedway, but Barnes moved into the overall points lead by nine points heading into the regular season finale at Road America.

Even though both competitors are based in Southern California, both wanted the RECARO GTS points championship badly enough, that they hauled Eastward all the way to the final event at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Barnes managed to top Rozelle by just four points, capturing the regular season championship, but he immediately shifted his sights back Westward on Las Vegas and the 2017 OUSCI.

Barnes won the Falken Tire Road Course Time Trial, but capturing the OUSCI crown takes near-perfection and Ken Thwaits' 2006 Mitsubishi Evo topped Barnes' Viper in three other segments, capturing the overall title by just three points!

The ACR Viper is registered to run in the three Westerly events in 2018 and Barnes hopes to repeat once again as RECARO GTS Class Champion and take another shot at the OUSCI title. However, we expect the competition will be ready for him. Don't miss a minute of the action. Tune in to MAVTV every Friday night at 8PM Eastern and add the OPTIMA Network on Amazon Fire for free!

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