How To Get Your Vehicle Selected for the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational
Hundreds of people have applied for entry into the 2010 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational this year and countless others have inquired at SEMA this week. The big question seems to be, what does it take to be considered for the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational?
You can read the complete rules here, but the first requirement is a street legal car and it certainly doesn't hurt if the car looks cool and goes fast. Rule changes for this year also require that either the car owner or builder drive the car, preventing "ringers" or professional drivers from influencing the outcome of the event. All vehicles also need to have tires with a minimum treadwear rating of at least 200 and be based on regular production vehicles.
There is space for up to 50 vehicles in the OUSCI, but by the start of SEMA all but 8-10 slots will have already been determined. With 1,000+ vehicles at the show, the chances of being selected at SEMA are extremely slim. It's not whether or not the Race Directors will see a vehicle, as they'll walk the show for two days, making sure they see every vehicle out there. It's more a matter of whether a particular car or truck falls into a category they are looking for or really knocks their socks off with build quality and visual appearance.
Even if there were 100 vehicles entered in each of the nine qualifying events (there wasn't), the vehicles in those events end up filling about 80% of the available spaces. In short, your chances of getting in are much better if you don't wait until SEMA to show us your stuff. If you do wait until SEMA, you may have waited too long.
This year's field going into SEMA was dominated by domestic vehicles, particularly Camaros. Since the OUSCI is open to all vehicles and since we would like to see many makes and models represented, race organizers at SEMA made a concerted effort to find the best non-Camaros at the show, specifically, several quality non-domestic vehicles. That doesn't preclude us from selecting additional Camaros or domestic cars for competition, but with amazing machines like the Code Red Camaro and Mark Stielow's latest '69 already in the field, a Camaro chosen at SEMA would have to be an extremely exceptional example to even garner serious consideration.
How did all those Camaros get into the field? Many of them qualified at one of our OUSCI qualifying events, held around the country, prior to SEMA. The more exposure a vehicle has to our Event Directors, the better the chance it has to be selected or qualify on it's own merits. That puts cars that debut at SEMA at a decided disadvantage, although it by no means eliminates them from consideration. They just really need to stand out, which is not easy to do at SEMA, but that's why we call it the "Ultimate Street Car Invitational" and not the "Above Average Street Car Invitational."
We can't tell you how many cars we try to select for the OUSCI at SEMA every year, that end up being only "SEMA-ready." That means the cars were put together just enough to get them started and rolled into SEMA, but have not been tuned or barely run under their own power. The OUSCI can be a one-shot deal for some cars, so if they're not ready when we come calling, we may not call again. These are the cars that prove one of the main points of the OUSCI- to see if the cars that populate the SEMA show can back up their amazing appearance with amazing performance.
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Cam Douglass and Jimi Day will make the official announcement and we'll do our best to bring you as much of the action here and on our other social media outlets, including our Roku Channel & Amazon Fire Channel.