2019 GTC Class Preview
- Advance Auto Parts
The GTC Class in OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car, presented by Advance Auto Parts, focuses on two-wheel drive compact vehicles that have a maximum wheelbase of 107 inches and the 2019 season looks to be the most-competitive to date! Last year, four different cars ended up running at least three events, which allowed them to compete for the class championship.
While there were a few GTC cars that were able to eclipse the 400-point mark at events during the regular season, Brian Johns' '93 Mazda RX-7 was the only one to do it three times, which resulted in a dominant 1,342-point performance for the regular season, the class championship and the Class Cup at the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI).
Johns is signed up to defend his championship, but he could have twice as much competition in 2019. Seven GTC cars are currently signed up to run in at least three events and Jeff Schwartz, who qualified for the OUSCI at Daytona, is now looking to find his way into two more fields and make a run at the championship. Currently, Sammy Valafar's 2000 Mazda Miata leads the points chase after his 407-point performance in Las Vegas, but Thomas Litton's Miata is signed up for three more events, which could help him significantly add to his point totals. Dayton de la Houssaye is also signed up for two more events, but he can't afford to miss the first day as he did at Daytona, if he wants to make a run at the championship.
We thought we might see Doug Wind's Neon at Daytona, but he wasn't able to make that event. He is signed up for three more and has a championship resume to put his alpha skittle in serious contention for the title. The GTC Class continues to be one of the most-diverse classes in the series, including the entries of Jason Goodick's 2004 Toyota MR2 and Angela Barnhouse's 2005 Honda S2000, which will also both be in contention for a championship in 2019. Regardless of what the make or model is, all the cars we've mentioned so far have one thing in common- they are likely locks for invitations to the 2019 OUSCI.
Each class offers up seven invitations to the OUSCI at each of the seven qualifying events, two of which have already been secured by Valafar and Schwartz. One of the seven GTC cars entered at NCM Motorsports Park will receive the next invitation and by the end of the season, the top-three non-qualifiers based on season-long point totals will also receive invitations. While it's possible to have GTC cars that will come in and “steal” an invitation by running and winning the class at a single event, the three invitations at the end of the season will go to cars that have run multiple events, as was the case last season.
That can change if more GTC cars enter the fray in multiple events, but it's hard to believe proven contenders like Litton, Barnhouse and past champions Wind and Johns won't lock up four of those remaining five entries at some point during the regular season. That means one-off competitors will need to bring their A-game if they want to punch their ticket to Sin City. Stay tuned and see how the season unfolds on the OPTIMA Network, a free download on Roku. Learn how you can get your street car into this series at www.DriveOPTIMA.com