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Trackside-Suzy
03-08-2016, 06:49 AM
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USCA OPTIMA SEARCH FOR THE ULTIMATE STREET CAR EVENT #1 AT THUNDERHILL
Right away the weekend started with a different vibe, Iíll do my best to describe it.
Unlike other events, the track had a bicycle event happening on Friday and we were not able to enter the track until after five oíclock. The reunion began immediately. Trucks and rigs were parked waiting to get in and the hugs and discussions of car mods done during the off-season, commenced. When the skies opened up and started dumping rain, no one seemed even remotely concerned and just kept right on with the business of friendship.
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Honestly, this event seemed much more people focused than many of the events in prior years. Donít get me wrong, this group is great to race with and thereís plenty of camaraderie, just seemed like there was much less pressure this year. I asked around the pits and several of the drivers agreed, it seemed more funner.

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Reasons for fun?
Well, for starters a great autocross course with very few cones hit all day. The course had good obstacles and a couple of spots that were able to trick the seasoned guys into slowing down and enable the lesser-horse-powered kids to keep up. With some late apex turns and an off-camber exit, the drivers accustomed to Goodguys DelMar were at home. For those not used to the off camber and misleading bumpy surface on the straightaways, there was some adjustments to be made for sure. Brian Mason did a great job taking advantage of the surface, size of lot and elevation changes. Itís no surprise that Matt Alcala (late model Mustang), Jake Rozelle (First Gen Camaro), Duke Langley (C5 Corvette) and Brian Hobaugh (C5 Corvette) were all on the leader board. (Almost all of them are Del Mar veterans.) Additionally, the course didn't seem to favor any one particular car the little-Pinto-that-could, kept up with the Clydesdales all day long.
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Matt Alcala in "The Rental Car"
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Sean Fogli in his F100 - a build that many of you have followed here on the forum.

As is customary, the Speed Stop Challenge happens simultaneously, with the field split in to two groups allowing half to compete in the Speed Stop while the other half tackles the Autocross.
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The Speed Stop was pretty run-of-the-mill with a short sprint into a hard right, slight wiggle-waggle chicane, and into the box. With so many anti-lock brake cars in the lineup, it was honestly hard to watch. Letís face it, we all want to see those wheels lock up and smoke the tires.
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The overall results were fun to see with some unexpected leaders. Clearly Jake Rozelle was laying it all out there to get an early invite because after killing the autocross, he smoked Ďem up good on the speed-stop, coming in first place in the GTV class.
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Surprising was Todd Lily in a Ď66 GTO coming in third behind Chad Rykerís first gen Camaro. Carrie Wilhoff took the entire GTS class to school with an unbeatable time amongst a sea of Corvettes and her husband Rich took the lead in the GTL class.
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Not to be overlooked, Jordan Priestly took both first AND second in the GT class racing his tried and true 5th gen ďFrankeyĒagainst his newest Camaro 6. This would not be the first time that Jordan takes two podium spots over the weekend. While it doesnít sound like much to drive two cars at an Optima event, try it and youíll know that Jordan was a busy guy.
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Meanwhile, over at the Lingenfelter Design and Engineering challenge, drivers are rotating through when taking breaks from the cones and timers.

I should point out that there were at least 20 first-time drivers at this event Ė thatís remarkable and speaks volumes about how people view the series. (or they want to be on TVÖ which is always a possibility). Anyhow, the new rules for the design challenge were in full force and in the end, seemed to go over really well.
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Gil Alfonso in a beautiful black Chevelle took top honors with a PERFECT SCORE. Gil is a Bay Area (California) guy and many of you may have seen him at Goodguys Pleasanton and will be familiar with the pageantry of his ride. Jane Thurmond, Brian Hobaugh and Ken Thwaits took the top spots for design, in their respective classes.
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The weekend progressed with no more rain but some clouds in the mornings and late day; making for ideal racing weather. At this point Iíd like to point out that California was a spectacular backdrop this weekend. I have never seen the state so beautiful and Thunderhill was no exception. I would have watched a root canal if it meant I got to see those never-ending emerald green rolling hills with orange and purple wild flowers swaying in the breeze. Honestly, I was easily distracted with the view and had to refrain from taking pictures of it. Optima got great road course pictures so I'll just share a few with a link to all of them at the bottom of the article.
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Mike Maier in 'Ol Blue
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Carrie Willhoff - not afraid of the go pedal.
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Efrain Diaz - had a spectacular weekend with great times on all events - checking in with Jimi Day after taking the scenic route

Again, no surprise that locals Rich Willhoff, Brian Hobaugh, Keith Smith and Martin Pond had impressive times, they all have years of experience on this track. In the end, Rich took the top spot with Brian Hobaugh, Jake Rozelle and Ken Thwaits leading in their classes.
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There was actually very little drama this weekend (at least that I saw). Early on, Mike Maier was welding in the pits (itís not a race if Mike isnít greasy and doing something major) and was back on track fast enough to barely miss a run. Ken Thwaits managed to break some stuff but he too barely missed a run as well. As usual, everyone chipped in with tools, parts and a helping hand to see that everyone got the most out of the weekendís event.
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Overall, I still cannot get over the vibe of this event. As I said in the beginning, this one was different. I donít know if itís because it was the first event of the season and everyone was excited. I donít know if it is because now that weíre entering the third season, people know each other and are more social, but whatever it is, itís REALLY GREAT. If this event is any indication of how the rest of the season will go, be sure to sign up, you do not want to miss this race-family reunion.
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Rod
03-08-2016, 08:57 AM
it was a GREAT weekend

Trackside-Suzy
03-08-2016, 09:05 AM
Here's a link to the entire picture gallery: http://s385.photobucket.com/user/protouringdotcom/ProTouring%20Events%202016/Optima%20Search%20for%20the%20Ultimate%20Street%20 Car%20Series/OUSCS%20Thunderhill%20Raceway%202016/story

c6z chick
03-08-2016, 10:50 AM
Great write up and pictures! Couldn't agree more!

efs69
03-08-2016, 11:16 AM
Great stuff Suzy!!! Thanks!

struck by Lightning
03-08-2016, 11:58 AM
We had a great time.

cire
03-20-2016, 07:01 PM
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I apologize for posting this question here, but does anyone know who owns that blue Mustang? I'm interested in that color code and build.

nokones
03-21-2016, 06:35 AM
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I apologize for posting this question here, but does anyone know who owns that blue Mustang? I'm interested in that color code and build.

If you are referring to the 66 Mustang in Suzy's photo of the original posting, that was Mike Maier. Mike's Mustang is not in this picture.

Trackside-Suzy
06-21-2016, 08:14 PM
There is a complete listing of all entrants on the www.driveusca.com website. If you go to events and click on the results for Thunderhill, you can scroll through the GTV or GTL classes and find the car's owner. If you're referring to the nitrous blue colored car, that probably is Mike Maier but there may have been more than one blue Mustang, I cannot remember.

nokones
06-24-2016, 04:25 AM
There is a complete listing of all entrants on the www.driveusca.com website. If you go to events and click on the results for Thunderhill, you can scroll through the GTV or GTL classes and find the car's owner. If you're referring to the nitrous blue colored car, that probably is Mike Maier but there may have been more than one blue Mustang, I cannot remember.

This picture is of the Intermediate Group. Mike runs in the Advance Group. You can tell by the color of the round sticker on the windshield. The advanced group sticker color is red. Also, the Mustang pictured has a full width straight stock appearing front bumper. Mike's car does not. You can compare the Mustang pictured with Mike's car pictured on his website at www.mikemaierinc.com