View Full Version : The Race Is On As The Final Optima Series Event Heads To California

10-08-2015, 02:58 PM

Optima's Search for the Ultimate Street Car
Road America
Elkhart Lake, Wi
Story by Brandy Phillips
Photos by Brandy Phillips & Optima Batteries


With the last Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car event this weekend in Fontana, California competitors from
East Coast to West Coast are paying close attention to the points total. The East Coast/ Midwest circuit came to an end
last month for the Optima Batteries Search for the Ultimate Street Car Series. Reality hit many drivers as they realized
they would not qualify to compete at this year’s Optima Batteries Ultimate Street Car Invitational. For others it was the
worry that they would not have enough points to remain as one of the top 15 overall point leaders, which would earn
them a spot into OUSCI. With this one event remaining before OUSCI the pressure is on to see who will move on to
complete at Optima’s Ultimate Street Car Invitational and who will have to wait another year for a chance at competing
in one of the biggest race events of the year.


Flashback to 2010; setting is Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. This was the first year Optima Batteries branched out and started
what is now known as Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car Series. The Event: Optima Faceoff.


The Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational completed its second year November 2009 along with the premier of an
exclusive television feature. The growing race was so popular that Optima decided it was time to start a series of events
in junction to OUSCI come 2010. Optima Faceoff was the first event to kick off the series.


Now here’s where the history lesson comes in. I attended the first Optima Faceoff back in 2010 with a ’71 Green Camaro
on behalf of Spectre Performance.


Little did I know that Mr. Larry Callahan was also present at this event. As I was looking through photos from the 2010
event, Larry’s head appeared behind his camera in several of my photos.



Looking back on those photos surfaced a lot of memories. There were several cars, faces and sponsors that have changed
over the years, but the event itself is quite the same. It still has the same welcoming atmosphere and friendly competition
as it did during its first year back in 2010. Sure things are probably much more organized, the Optima trailer is much
larger and the number of competitive drivers has greatly increased, but the most important aspect of having fun and
making memories still exists.


Let’s focus on some names for a second as we reflect back on the first Road America event. Phil Gerber from the Roadster
Shop and their ‘70 bright green Chevelle drew a lot of attention that year. Not only was it hard not to notice the car because
of it’s color, Phil pushed that car to its limit making it one of the fastest cars out there.


Kyle Tucker of Detroit Speed had his ’70 Camaro at the first Road America event as well. He dominated the field that
weekend winning several awards including the Top Speed Award.


Robert McGaffin was out with his ‘65 Olds. I remember him having some issues with the car at first, but once he got it out
on track the car looked amazing.


The infamous Brian Finch also attended this first event with his formerly yellow ’71 Camaro. It was hard not to notice
Finch, especially when he left his competition behind winning the overall championship.


Then there was myself with my not so trusting 1971 Camaro that had continuous problems up that darn hill into turn 6.
Let’s add the swap in wheels that were made last minute due to the tread limitations and we had a disaster in the making.
We can forget about those wheels please.


Honestly though I don’t remember where I placed; I actually had a hard time remembering who even came in overall
until looking at pictures. My memories are those like certain people shoving rocks in their pockets before weigh-in at the
go kart track so they would be placed up towards the front of the pack.


Or Optima Jim squeezing his way into a go kart while everyone took pictures of the quite humorous moment.


Looking back, I am surprised how many memories came flooding back when looking through these photos. The
lengthy cruise around road construction, the people that made the event what it is today and the laughs that we shared
and that will last forever. I’m glad to say I was part of that.


So now fast forward five years as the 2015 Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car Road America event has come to
an end. The cars (and drivers for that matter) are much faster, the television production is much more intense, the
variety of cars has definitely shifted, and there are triple the participants compared to its first year back in 2010.


There’s quite a few series that you can race with including Redline, SCCA, NASA (to name a few). Many if not all of these
series require you to put in a certain amount of hours in the drivers seat and/ or qualify in order to compete. Then there’s
the whole complexity of what class you’re in. Don’t get me wrong I have a lot of respect for these series and hope to race
in some of them one day, but for now I want the benefits of being a part of something while having the ability to compete
against others without an abundance of restrictions.


This is where the Optima Series has dominated the race circuit. Pro-Touring.com is not always able to make it to these
Optima Events, but we make sure to visit their Facebook page to check out the weekend recap and all the action.
Regardless how heated the competition gets, it is important to see that at the end of the day people are still having fun.


As the last event on the East Coast/ Midwest, competition was very intense as those who did not have a spot at OUSCI
had one last chance to win their way in. For others the goal was to earn enough points to help put them at the top of the
points list. With Fontana as the last Optima event this October, anything can happen regarding points. For those who are
not able to make the trip out to Fontana they will probably be watching the points list very carefully.

As a reminder there were 80 invites that were given out to the winners of each class at each event. These classes
consisted of the GTV(vintage), GTL(light), GT(over 3,200lbs), and GTS(sports car). Then there’s the Spirit of the Event
winner who also receives an invite. This sums up five invites per eight events over 2015 season.

Then there is a second wave of invites to consider; the Point Leaders. The top 15 Point Leaders at the end of the series
will move on to compete at this year’s OUSCI. To find out more info on how the points are tallied and see who currently
stands in the top 15 visit: www.driveusca.com (http://www.driveusca.com)

The third wave of competitors is chosen as SEMA as the Golden Ticket Winners. Golden Ticket recipients will be chosen
at the 2015 SEMA Show. Drivers must be prepared to race having a helmet, race suit and meet all safety requirements
listed on the www.driveusca.com website. If the criteria is met, these drivers can move on to compete at OUSCI
immediately after SEMA. The Golden Ticket announcement is quite a big deal at SEMA and for many drivers this is there
last chance at a chance for an invite.


With SEMA less than 30 days away and one last Optima Series event on the West Coast, it will be interesting to watch
how it all plays out. We will be providing live coverage and a complete recap as we close the Optima Series with our
hometown event in Fontana, California. We will also continue to update you on the point leaders along with live coverage
at SEMA on the lucky Golden Ticket winners.

We want to congratulate all those that have secured a spot to attend OUSCI, applaud all those who made the attempt and
competed at one of the Optima events and hope that lasting memories were made along the way.

For full coverage on the Optima Batteries Series visit the Optima Batteries Facebook Page at:
https: //www.facebook.com/optimabatteries?fref=ts (https://www.facebook.com/optimabatteries?fref=ts)

If you want to learn more about the series regarding dates, locations and rules please visit: http://driveusca.com/

10-08-2015, 06:24 PM
Very cool write up Brandy. Brings back lots of great memories. The 2010 event was our first with my '66 Chevelle after only owning it for a few weeks.