OUSCI Competitor Randy Johnson's 1973 Chevy Camaro
Few competitors in the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational, presented by Royal Purple and KN Filters, have as much experience in the event as Randy Johnson. In fact, the OUSCI seems to be a bi-annual event for the Kewaskum, Wisconsin resident. Johnson ran his "Re-Peeled" 1970 Camaro in the 2009 OUSCI and then returned in 2011 with the 1969 Centerforce AMX he built for Jimi Day. This year, he returned again with his latest build, a 1973 Chevrolet Camaro.
However, unlike his previous creations, Johnson didn't have months of advanced notice to get the car sorted out and dialed in, as he was a Golden Ticket invitee from the 2013 SEMA Show. In fact, the car wasn't even completed until right before SEMA, so Johnson couldn't have spent any time shaking the car down, in anticipation of being invited to the OUSCI. The car had just 30 miles on it when it emerged from the Autometer booth at SEMA, but this isn't Randy's first rodeo.
With the exception of a power steering pump that hiccuped during the parade laps (and was replaced thanks to our friends at Detroit Speed, who had a spare), the car ran flawlessly all weekend long and actually performed better on the track than Johnson's previous OUSCI outings. Randy chalks some of that up to the extensive work done on improving the driving skills of the nut behind the wheel, but the fact is, Johnson has emerged as one of the country's top builders of street-ready performance cars.
Johnson couldn't have celebrated his birthday at any better venue than the OUSCI and had an absolute blast doing it. As we previously-mentioned, he is now in the sub-2:00 club at Spring Mountain with more than four seconds to spare, which was good enough for 20th place in the BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge. While Johnson bemoans drivers who blame their car's performance on everything but the driver, Johnson was quick to blame several moving cones for the struggles he had in the RideTech Autocross, where he finished 34th, after sliding through the stop box on his final pass.
Troy Ladd's 2014 Mustang edged out Johnson in the Wilwood Speed Stop Challenge by just ,003 thousandths of a second, but Randy had his revenge on Dave Eckert's 69 Mach 40, which came up .002 thousandths of a second slower than Johnson's Camaro. Johnson (and everyone else who didn't win) had hoped for more points in the Lingenfelter Design Challenge, but still came away with four points in 17th position and 35th place overall. Kudos must be given to Johnson's Camaro and all the competitors (and there are a lot of them in the OUSCI) that have the features and refinements found in everyday street cars- air conditioning, stereos, real glass windows, even delayed windshield wipers.
Even though Randy hasn't ventured deeply into blue oval territory with his builds, he cites, Alan Palmer's Mustang, Troy Trepanier's Torino and Dave Eckert's Mach 40 as his favorites from this year's field.
As for advice for future competitors, Randy's comments echo what others have already said. Safety is the first priority at the OUSCI, but after that, it should be about having fun. Getting into the OUSCI is the mountain worth climbing. Once you're on top, enjoy the view. We all know the view changes when helmets get strapped on and competitive juices start flowing, but as someone who has now competed in multiple OUSCIs, Johnson's immediate assessments of his experiences have always reverted to how much fun they were and what great people he met at these events. We love to hear that feedback and look forward to seeing Randy again soon at an upcoming Ultimate Street Car Association event in 2014.