Posted: Jan 09, 2018
Erik Vandermey's 2007 Mazda MX-5
Erik Vandermey's 2007 Mazda MX-5 has been a regular competitor in OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car series.
Erik Vandermey has been a regular competitor in OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car series since the 2015 season. His 2007 Mazda MX-5 was often outgunned in the early years, as it was forced to run in the Holley EFI GTL Class, competing against lightweight Corvettes and all-wheel drive Evos. In spite of the Miata's knife in a gunfight profile in those early years, Vandermey still managed to post a top-ten finish in his first event at Michigan International Speedway and in the upper half of a stacked Holley EFI GTL Class at Road America.
In 2016, Erik posted another top-ten in the Holley EFI GTL Class at NCM Motorsports Park, followed by a sixth place finish in his return visit to Road America. Vandermey punched his first ticket to the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) via his participation at the Motorstate Challenge and his ability to follow that up with the successfully compete in an OUSCI qualifying event. You can read more about that 2016 run here. Erik's first trip to Vegas proved he could more than hold his own against the best of the best that typically ends up in the OUSCI. Out of the 77 cars that were able to finish the event (and not everyone did finish), Vandermey finished in 53rd place, well ahead of a host of Camaros, Mustangs and Corvettes.
Erik has always taken a very analytical approach to competing in the series and was excited to see the addition of the GTC Class for competition during the 2017 season. The GTC Class was specifically designed for shorter wheelbase, lighter weight vehicles, like Honda S2000s, the FRS/BRZ and Miatas. When Erik returned to NCM Motorsports Park in 2017, GTC Class leader, Scott Budisalich, had already qualified for the OUSCI at the previous event at NOLA Motorsports Park. While Erik was not able to run down Budisalich's S2000 at NCM, his runner-up performance punched his ticket early for the 2017 OUSCI.
Vandermey's MX-5 tied Jeff Hahn's '99 Honda Civic at the next event at New Jersey Motorsports Park, with the Design & Engineering tiebreaker going to Hahn, but the finish still propelled Erik's Mazda into the forefront of the GTC Class points chase with Budisalich. Both drivers returned to the regular season finale at Road America, where a stacked field made points very hard to come by. Budisalich managed to top Vandermey for the win at Road America and the season-long points championship, but a runner-up finish was still an impressive accomplishment. The 2017 OUSCI saw 92 entries finish the grueling two-day event and in spite of the larger field, Vandermey's MX-5 finished even better than the year before in 47th place overall and once again, with a pack of Camaros, Mustangs and Corvettes in his rear view mirror.
Registration for the 2018 season shows Erik's Mazda will return once again to Road America, which is close to his home in Illinois, but we may see him elsewhere, including in OPTIMA's all-new DriveAutoX series. You can see Erik's Mazda and a whole bunch of other amazing cars from OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car series every weekend on MAVTV, starting Friday nights at 8PM ET. If the DriveOPTIMA series is coming near you in 2018, be sure to check it out in person, as admission is free!