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Trackside-Suzy
06-09-2015, 07:32 AM
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Another Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car event is in the books Ė this time racers experienced the beauty and excitement of the new track at the National Corvette Museum (NCM) in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Say what you will about Kentucky, itís a beautiful state and the NCM is pulling out all the stops to build a world-class racing facility.

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Saturdayís autocross was a fast course on the NCM purpose built autocross pad Ė a grippy and perfectly flat wide-open space. Racers had a great mix of elements including sharp turns, a high speed straight through the middle (I heard third gear in a few cars) a slalom and a tight finish. Autocross times were averaging 50 seconds with the fastest getting down in the 47ís.

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As is customary for these events, there was autocross, speed stop challenge and the design challenge going on all at the same time. The speed stop is always a clever design at the Optima events and this one proved to be a worthy challenge (more so for some, than others) using a portion of the road track involving a hard right up an elevation change that created a blind turn that quickly developed into a short slalom. Yeah, figure that one outÖ.

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This is a teen aged girl, learning how to race her second gen Camaro -- kudos to that parent! And big props to the girl for taking an instructor on every run; I see a lot of drivers not taking advantage of the free instruction which seems foolish in my view.

I will point out that there was a really great mix of novices (first timers) and unique cars to mix it up with the usual suspects and make this sold out event interesting. Yes, this event was sold out. If youíre thinking of attending an Optima event this year, you might consider getting signed up early, the party is heating up and there are enough drivers willing to travel great distances to do more than one (more than three or four) of these events.

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Canada in the pits.

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Back to the pit: I always find the results of the Design Challenge interesting; itís so subjective and varies greatly from event-to-event based upon the likes and knowledge of the judges. This event didnít have Mike Copeland from Lingenfelter around --who tends to know the cars-- and the judging results were both expected and unexpected in this round.
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This very pretty, very pro-toured, Nova got the highest point score Ė very expected.

On to the road course: Sundayís weather proved to be hotter and a bit more humid which doesnít bode well for driving suits, neck collars and helmetsóespecially after a prior night of feasting at Holley, for sure! But, safety equipment won the day when there was a brake line failure on a classic car that forced the very skilled driver to make the split-second decision to spin his car to slow it down and avoid taking a turn with no brakes. Unfortunately, the maneuver resulted in the car hitting the wall, puncturing the gas tank and immediately bursting into flames. I wasnít going to say anything about the incident because I donít want to add insult to injury to the driver, nor do I want the trolls to have anything to make unneeded commentary about. I bring it up because I know many who have tried to get around the safety equipment requirements. I get it, safety equipment is freaking expensive! And, the powers-that-be generally donít build racetracks in cool, well-ventilated locations Ė all factors making safety equipment uncomfortable for your wallet and your fat ass. I am here to tell you in no uncertain terms: SAFETY EQUIPMENT SAVED A DRIVERíS LIFE at NCM this last weekend.
That is all.

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After a break for lunch gave everyone the opportunity to cool off and get their minds right, the day proceeded without incident.

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Because I know all you want are the pictures, here is a link to the full gallery:
http://s385.photobucket.com/user/protouringdotcom/slideshow/Pro-Touring%20Events%202015/USCA%20Series/Optima%20Search%20-%20NCM

If you donít see yourself, ask me in the comments and I can look through the more than 500 shots I took -- I am sure I have one of you.
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SSLance
06-09-2015, 11:11 AM
Was great to see you again Suzy, thanks for the pics and the nice recap write up. It was a fantastic event, even with a few sobering moments through into the mix. It is very clear that the Optima events are growing in size and popularity and it is very clear to me why. Jimi Day and the crew do a fantastic job putting on a first class event. Can't wait to do one again...

woodside783
06-11-2015, 07:09 AM
thought that was you. Thought you went to the power tour