Regional Qualifying Events Recruit Exciting Talent for Fourth Annual OUSCI
The OPTIMA® Ultimate Street Car Invitational, which occurs in November immediately following the SEMA Show, one of the largest industry tradeshows, has become a highly-anticipated event within the performance automotive aftermarket industry. The Invitational, now in its fourth year, brings in some of the top automotive talent and highly-modified vehicles, both credible racing veterans and fresh talent with undiscovered street machines.
In order to recruit an all-new group of competitors and performance vehicles, OPTIMA Batteries, the global leader in high-performance automotive and marine absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries, launched a series of qualifying events in order to test drivers’ skills and bring in high-powered drivers for the Ultimate Street Car Invitational. Each regional qualifying event offers a format similar to the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational with an autocross, road course, braking and acceleration, style and design competition and road rally.
“The amount of talent that the OPTIMA Invitational brings in every year is incredible. We had no idea how popular this event, which is now globally recognized, would become. So many amazing sponsors, drivers, crews and volunteers contribute to the success of the Invitational,” says Cam Douglass, Director of Product Development and Marketing for OPTIMA Batteries. “These events not only demonstrate vehicle performance and styling, but also exhibit the dedication and passion within the aftermarket performance automotive industry.” OPTIMA has partnered with existing race events across the nation as qualifiers, five of which have already occurred, in order to award the initial highly-coveted spots to compete for the Ultimate Street Car title this fall. The remaining qualifying events are scheduled as follows: ·
- Holley LSFest II: September 9-11, 2011·
- Run Through the Hills: September 23-25, 2011
Besides racing in the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational, participants also get an automatic invitation to feature their car at the 2011 SEMA Show, compete in the event, gain awareness through hundreds of print and online articles, and will be featured in the broadcast television special filmed around the event and scheduled to air nationally in early-2012.
The current qualifiers range from undiscovered enthusiasts to notable industry influencers. Brian Finch, who won the Run to the Coast event in his 1971 Camaro, had never been on a road course until two years ago at the Motor State Challenge. Vinnie Allegretta, an electrician by day and drag racer by night, is also new to the competition and earned a spot at the first annual Run to the Shore event in a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro. As a NASA High Performance Driving School graduate, Allegretta puts a priority on proper lines.
More of a veteran is the 2010 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational runner-up and industry influencer, Kyle Tucker, who earned an entry at the Run to Music City. Perhaps the most highly-anticipated event was the Motor State Challenge in South Haven, Michigan, as it brought forth the winner of the OPTIMA Invitational last year, and this year was the single biggest pro-touring event ever with 80 cars.
Danny Popp, took home titles in both the road course and autocross events with his 2006 Chevrolet Corvette (pictured). This vehicle has received considerable upgrades to the suspension, brakes and engine. Popp, who is a seven-time SCCA Solo/ProSolo National Champion and five-time NASA Roadrace/Time Trial National Champion, is known in the industry as a great instructor to others and the ultimate team player.
Besides Popp taking home the title, Herb Adams, an industry legend and innovator, brought one of his Pontiac Trans Ams, a development he contributed to while working at Pontiac early in his career. Most recently, the Heidt's Performance Car Challenge turned out some impressive talent. Mark Stielow was the overall winner of the event and Mary Pozzi won the invite to the OPTIMA Invitational. Randy Johnson and his 1970 Camaro won the first-ever Todd Gartshore Memorial Spirit of the Event award.