View Full Version : The Final Countdown- Optima's Search for the Ultimate Street Car Auto Club Speedway

10-18-2015, 08:52 AM

Auto Club Speedway Fontana, California
Optimaís Search For The Ultimate Street Car
Saturday October 10- Sunday October 11, 2015
Story By Brandy Phillips
Photos By Brandy Phillips, Rob Phillips & Ryan Morrow

Saturday 6:30am:

As the sun starts to rise the sound of garage doors opening fills the pits. Trucks and trailers pull through the gates as
others start to unload. Those who did not go through tech the day before quickly head over with their cars before the
drivers meeting begins.


This is it, the final event. The event that not only awards the final four winners with an invite to Optimaís Ultimate Street
Car Invitational, but the event that will dictate who will move on as one of the 15 top point leaders.


Some traveled quite a distance to compete at Auto Club Speedway. Racing for points was the only way some of these
drivers would be able to attend OUSCI. Otherís sat at home refreshing race monitor to see who placed where. Would
there points throughout the year be enough to carry them on to compete in Vegas? As a double points event, Auto Club
Speedway could make or break certain drivers from continuing on to compete in one of the most sought after race events
of the year.


Jimi Day briefed everyone before the race, reminding them of the rules, safety and most important, having fun. As the
drivers meeting ended, competitors made their way over to the autocross and speed stop, walking the course to get
familiar with the layout.


While walking through the pits regulars like Jake Rozelle, Kyle Newman, James Shipka, Mike Maier, and Jordan Priestly
were prepping their cars before heading to the staging lanes. The time had come and both tracks were hot. Cars fired
up around the pits and drivers headed to one of two locations; autocross or speed stop.


The staging lanes for the Detroit Speed and Engineering Autocross were filled with competitors. Everything from vintage
to modern muscle and even sports compact lined up to make their first lap. Group A was up first. The autocross course
was not your typical layout. The track was long, technical and fast including multiple slaloms and a chicago box.


Drivers had to run a couple laps before finally setting some fast times. Once the track was hot and tires warm times
started getting faster and faster.


Over at the Wilwood Speed Stop tires continued to screech as drivers overestimated the stop box again and again. For
most it was a gamble, how far how fast before applying the brakes. After a couple laps Group B also started to get into a
rhythm stopping in the box while improving on times.


Lunch gave everyone a break to get something to eat and fluids in them. Temps reached well over 100 degrees
throughout Saturday. Volunteers and staff continuously reminded drivers to stay hydrated as they carried bottles of water
to hand out to drivers between runs.


The Lingenfelter Design Challenge ran throughout Saturday and partially Sunday. Drivers were instructed to take a break
from one event to have their car judge. A total of 25 points could be given; 10 per the judgeís opinion and 15 per a list of
streetcar requirements (headlights, horn, blinkers, etc). The three judges included our own Larry Callahan, who endured
the overwhelming heat while judging all 100 cars. The job sounds easy, but trust us itís not.


As the day winded down competitors were instructed to return back to the Optima trailer for their final task of the day;
the Road Rally. Instructions were given along with a map to the final location. Drivers were required to stay on route to
and from the track to their destination so staff could confirm that the competitors completed the entire road rally. This
section was worth 25 points, but as a double points event competitors could get up to 50 points for just participating in
the drive.


The route took competitors to Rotolo Chevrolet where another car show was taking place. Drivers parked their cars
throughout the dealership, stretching their legs and looking to see what others had brought to the show.


Upon returning to the track, tables were set and dinner was served. Every Optima event has included a Saturday evening
Holley Welcome Party. It was finally time to relax as the sun set, temps cooled down and day came to an end.

Sunday 7:00am

The final and most challenging day of Optimaís Search for the Ultimate Street Car Fontana Event. It was time to hit the
road course. The Auto Club Speedway has a couple different road course configurations. This event highlighted the infield
track. The thing was, it wasnít just the typical infield layout. Additional elements such as cones, tire barriers and slaloms
were included, adding more technical elements to the course.


Drivers were separated into four groups: Expert, Intermediate A, Intermediate B, and Novice.


Experts included those like Danny Popp, Kyle Tucker and Carl Casanova. They also included faster speeds, more risk and
quicker times.


Then there was your intermediate group. This group consisted of expert/ Intermediate drivers. Many of these drivers had
raced with Optima throughout the year though there were a handful of those that were new to the group, but familiar
with the track.


There were five 15 minute sessions throughout the day for each group. This was plenty considering the heated conditions
that continued throughout the weekend. Temps sat in the mid to high 90ís which was bearable until adding a driverís
suit, helmet and gloves.


As the day progressed more and more drivers dropped out. Cars were being pushed to their limits, parts were breaking
and drivers were just flat out tired. Those who broke started to pack up while others continued to hit the track and give
it one last shot to make their last lap their best lap.


As the day came to an end times were gathered, points were assessed and it was time for awards. To save you from the
lengthy list of those who won, a link to the results has been included below. We did want to highlight those who won so
we included their pictures above.

Emotions were high as some of the awards were handed out. For some this confirmed that they were going to Vegas in
three weeks. For others reality hit that their good was not good enough.


Jane Thurmond had to be our favorite award recipient of the weekend. Not only did she take first in the GTL Lingenfelter
Design Challenge her reaction was quite memorable as she asked Jimi to stop the awards so she could savor the moment.


Kyle Tucker took the podium several times through the award ceremony. Unfortunately his other competitors who also
won awards were not present. So Kyle made sure to take to the podium in style on behalf of all those who won.


Cody Mason- a name that most had never heard, but a name to keep an eye on in the future. Ken Thwaits was unable to
attend the Fontana event so he sent Cody out in his Camaro. First I know some had questions about who Cody was and
why he was allowed to drive Kenís car. Cody is an employee of Showtime Motorsports allowing him to drive Kenís car in
Optima events. Furthermore, I know some wondered how this kid just came out of nowhere and swept away his
competition. Well the kid is good, really good. At only 20 years old Cody not only took to the podium, but also won his
way to compete at this yearís OUSCI.


Todd Rumpke, the man behind the number 63. For those who know Todd, then you already know his story. For those
who do not know Todd then I am going to quickly brief you on who he is and why he is my last highlight for this recap.
Todd Rumpke joined our little group years ago along with Danny Popp. Todd has been a great asset to our community
and a great instructor to those who would allow him in their passenger seat. Recently Todd was diagnosed with cancer.
He had to hang up his drivers suit and refocus on fighting for his life instead of first place on a track. Before this event I
quickly reviewed the list of competitors to find Toddís name as a on that list for Auto Club Speedway. My first thought
was the list was old and there was a mistake. There was no mistake. Todd Rumpke came out to Fontana with his
Corvette only a week after finishing his last treatment. No one including Todd knew how he would do or if he would be
able to endure the entire weekend. Not only did Todd last, but he raced his way to second place while also winning a
spot at this yearís Optimaís Ultimate Street Car Invitational.


Finally I want to thank the volunteers who came out to help both Saturday and Sunday. Our very reliable Chuck Felton
was present making sure people knew where to go and answering questions along the way.


There were also several college students who came out to help Saturday. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to talk to
them. I do believe they were from several different colleges, but all part of Formula SAE. As I always say, without these
volunteers it is not possible to run events like the Optimaís Search for the Ultimate Street Car Series. Volunteers were
difficult to come by this year. We know because Pro-Touring.com was in charge of gathering volunteers for each Optima
Event. To end the season with such a huge group of volunteers meant a lot not only to myself, but to the Pro-Touring.com
staff and all the competitors.

With that we wrap up Optimaís Search for the Ultimate Street Car Auto Club Speedway Recap. For more photos please
visit out gallery below:

<iframe width="480" height="360" src="http://s385.photobucket.com/user/protouringdotcom/embed/slideshow/Pro-Touring%20Events%202015/OSUSC%20Auto%20Club%20Speedway%202015"></iframe>

For complete results of the Optima Fontana Event visit: http://clubregistration.net/clients/usca/results/index.cfm

Check back for further stories leading up to Optimaís Ultimate Street Car Invitational. We are only three weeks away
from the big event. If you are interested in attending OUSCI please visit the link below for more information and/ or
to purchase tickets.


10-19-2015, 01:44 PM
Brandy, As always, nice write up! I just wanted to say thanks for mentioning the volunteers and especially the college students who helped! We (The USCA) always try to have local College fSAE (Formula SAE) teams help and at Fontana we had an excellent and enthusiastic bunch from both Cal State Long Beach and University of California Riverside!