OUSCI Competitor Danny Popp's Lingenfelter L28 Camaro
Danny Popp knew how hard it was to win the OUSCI in 2011 and that repeating would be even more difficult in 2012. However, Popp is one of the best amateur drivers in the country, capable of making nearly anything with four wheels and an engine competitive. He had far more than that in the Lingenfelter L28 Camaro in 2012, but knew it was still an uphill battle.
The L28 Camaro weighed in at more than 4,100 pounds, which is significant, considering Mark Stielow returned with a more-powerful and even lighter Camaro than the 3,600-pound Red Devil he brought in 2011. Popp was up to the challenge and came out guns-a-blazin' in the RideTech autocross.
Ironically, the anti-lock brakes other competitors point to as a competitive advantage ended up hurting Popp in the autocross. Danny posted what would've been the quickest time in the autocross, but the ABS "ice mode" prevented him from stopping in the required area and getting a clean run. Still, Popp's second-best pass was good enough for third place.
Moving over to the BF Goodrich Hot Lap Challenge, Popp was one of only two competitors to post a sub-1:50 time in their first lap (Stielow was the other). Popp would've likely gone quicker in either of his next two laps and his onboard datalogger suggested a time that looked to have been the quickest of the day, but unexpected driveshaft failure ended Popp's run early.
The one lap time he did post, combined with his finish in the autocross and six points from the Lingenfelter Performance Design Challenge did elevate him to a seventh-place finish overall, even without being able to post any time in the Wilwood Speed Stop Challenge.
We asked Danny if he had any advice to aspiring OUSCI participants. Popp said first and foremost people should make sure they are having fun. Breaking stuff is never fun, but we do our best to make the OUSCI experience rewarding and enjoyable. We're glad Danny and many other competitors can still have fun, even if their days didn't go quite as planned.
Danny also emphasized the importance of preparation for this event, a luxury SEMA invitees usually don't enjoy. Danny spent a lot of time dialing his car in for the OUSCI, but in hindsight, wished he had even more time to further refine both his braking systems and chassis balance.
Popp also believes driver preparation is just as important, as he feels driver capability means more than a car's potential. To that end, Popp was very impressed with the performance of Karl Dunn, who finished seventh overall. Dunn is a regular at open track events and his experience behind the wheel of a capable machine combined for a very impressive finish.
As Danny looked at his best time on the road course in 2011 (1:42.208), he does feel that the spirit of the OUSCI, which discourages thinly-veiled, street-legal race cars, has dilluted the performance potential of cars on the track. However, Mark Stielow's times may suggest another factor. Stielow posted a best lap of 1:45.410 in 2011, but when he returned in a lighter and more-powerful car in 2012, he ran slower at 1:46.183. We hope to get Stielow's take on what happened there, but hotter temperatures and less practice time could both be contributing factors in Stielow's slower times in 2012.
That wasn't the case for Brian Hobaugh, who returned with the same car (although we hope to find out what changes he may have made) and ran more than two seconds faster in 2012, posting the fastest time of the day. We also noticed the 20th-place time, which is the cut-off for points in the event, was again faster in 2012.
Last year, Bob Michaels' lap of 1:57.535 was good enough for 20th place, but he would've been on the outside looking in at Brad Coomer's 1:57.282 this year. Both times greatly outpaced Bill Howell's 20th-place time in 2010 of 2:01.983. There is no question, the OUSCI fields are getting faster.
If you'd like to be a part of the action in 2013, start your planning now and leave plenty of weekends open to hit the track. We'll announce the 2013 qualifying events here, so stay tuned and start wrenching!