2011 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational Preview- Mark Stielow's Red Devil Camaro
We probably should've saved our preview of Mark Stielow's 1969 Red Devil Camaro for last, since he is the defending champion of the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational, presented by KN Filters and Wilwood Brakes. However, we had a chance to talk to Mark yesterday about his car, the OUSCI and what he thought his chances were this year.
If you are unfamiliar with the Red Devil Camaro, this CarDriver article should bring you up to speed. Mark has been in tweak mode with his Camaro, since winning the 2010 OUSCI, but that certainly hasn't kept him from continuing to push the car's limits.
In addition to competing in numerous qualifying events, we dragged Mark and the Camaro out to Willow Springs last month to shoot a TV commercial and stood in amazement, as he beat on the Camaro pass after pass, eventually roasting a set of brand-new tires in less than a day. While the tires gave up the ghost, the Camaro never flinched.
The Red Devil is currently parked in LA and has been in SoCal for the last month. Mark flew out a few weekends ago, to do some minor tweaking on the car and even had the opportunity to autocross it one last time, prior to the 2011 OUSCI. Mark passed on the opportunity, instead opting to go over the entire car, just to make sure everything was tight and exactly the way it should be, prior to arriving in Pahrump. Keep in mind that Mark Stielow's idea of going over the entire car might be somewhat different than your idea, as he assembled the Red Devil Camaro on three different occasions, before feeling comfortable with the finished product.
What does Mark think his chances are of repeating in 2011? It is safe to say Mark has looked at the field, is familiar with many of the cars and drivers and based on that knowledge, he didn't think a repeat was likely. In fact, given the caliber of cars and drivers entered in this year's competiton, Stielow indicated he thought a top-5 finish this year would be quite an accomplishment for him or anyone else.
While Mark might be saying that, it isn't going to stop him from making sure he is as prepared as he can possibly be for the OUSCI. One of the benefits of being a GM employee and one of the engineers who fine-tunes the suspension on new Cadillacs, is that Mark is able to participate in Cadillac's customer appreciation events around the country, if he so chooses.
Conveniently enough, Pratt Miller will be hosting one of these events this weekend at the same Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch, in Pahrump, Nevada, where we hold the OUSCI. Since Nevada is a state known for gambling, would you care to place a bet that Mark Stielow will be there, squeezing in a little track time?
The OUSCI is open to spectators for the first time ever, so if you'd like to be there the following weekend, buy your ticket today, as less than 600 remain.