View Full Version : From the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational Organizers

11-10-2009, 02:08 PM
The 2nd annual Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational ended successfully last Saturday. The top priorities for us were safety and fun for all involved. We have had no reports of any injuries and for the most part, we have heard very positive comments from an overwhelming majority of the participants regarding the “fun factor.” However, even the most seasoned event promoters have a difficult time keeping everyone happy. As expected, there was some controversy over things like tire rules and some confusion with regards to final scoring. We are quadruple checking the scoring to ensure fairness based on the established rules.

The Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational began as a small enthusiast event last year as way to promote our street car enthusiast hobby by showcasing the finest vehicles both import and domestic, cars and trucks, using the best parts in a fun, yet competitive environment. Most consumers get to view great still shot magazine coverage of cars built by the elite group of car builders and performance manufacturers, yet they seldom get to see the cars in action. This Invitational is designed to separate the “show only” cars from the real performance vehicles. Since SEMA is the single most important gathering place of the latest customized street vehicles using the most current high performance parts available from around the world, it just seems to make sense to get these vehicles on the track while they are all in one place at the same time. Where else do you have an opportunity to make friends with Rob “Cupcake” Kinnan, Kyle “Goody Two Shoes” Tucker, Brett “Grand Puba” Voelkel and many others who are responsible for shaping this industry? Then watch as these guys take beautiful cars out on the track and tear them up. Pretty darn cool if you ask us.

The event is designed to promote street cars and not race cars. It is important to ensure this event remains friendly and inviting for true enthusiasts from all walks of life who may not have professionally-honed driving skills. It is exciting to watch the pros make some hot laps as an exhibition entry, but we will take extra steps to ensure this is an event for non-professional “enthusiasts”. Right or wrong, the element of healthy competition was created to add focus to what the performance aftermarket and our hobby is all about. A little nudge, if you will, to step it up a notch. However, at no time was the competition meant to be the primary reason for the event.

With competition comes controversy and it looks like we have more than our fair share here. It’s obvious we can do a better job in defining and communicating the rules. Both objective scoring and subjective judging should be clearly communicated. We apologize if we fell short here, but we promise to do better next year. One fact is undeniable – SEMA and our industry is not about stock vehicles. We do have a deep respect for original cars and the astounding performance they have against today’s cars but a relatively stock vehicle (no matter what it is) will never rank high in the styling portion of the OPTIMA Invitational. Styling preference is subjective and we will continue to enlist third party professional judges that represent a variety of likes and dislikes. One of the goals is to represent an element of public opinion.

We will be forwarding a post event survey to the people most important to helping shape the next event – the participants, volunteers and sponsors. Those who did not participate, did not volunteer to work the event or weren’t able to show up to watch, please feel free to forward your suggestions via PM. There have been numerous constructive comments already. We can’t wait to incorporate some of the suggestions in the plan for next year. Putting on an event like this is both exciting and stressful. It’s like putting on a big party and you want to be the best host to ensure everyone is happy. Invariably, you will overlook something or someone. What you thought may have been a small detail may end up being a big deal. Or, something unexpected happens to change the expected outcome. Unfortunately, one of our best friends was unable to get any road course time due to the unfortunate timing of a transmission deciding to leave the K&N car late in the day. Clean up took valuable track time and barely allowed for a final, but important, sponsor TV shot. That bothers us much more than any of the competition controversy. Sorry Scott. Hopefully, the majority of our guests at the Invitational had a great time. We will strive for continuous improvement and to make next year’s event better in every way.

Steve Chryssos
11-11-2009, 07:07 AM
No replies? That's funny. Much passion can be found elsewhere (https://www.pro-touring.com/forum/showthread.php?t=58188). Here? Crickets. I'll take a stab.

Unfortunately I was not present at the event since we are moving to FL this week. Wish I was there. From the outside looking in, I suggest that everyone who participated in the other thread gather their thoughts and post objective suggestions here. Remember that Optima and the other Invitational sponsors deserve credit for creating a western U.S. event. So please be respectful when making suggestions. ....and remember that ultimate authority goes to the event organizers since they are in a position to match suggestions with logistical realities. Go with the flow.

Having volunteered as tech director for the 1st Motor State Challenge, I can tell you that you CAN'T make everyone happy. In fact, sometimes the job down right SUX. Events like these charge zero or almost zero money for a day or weekend full of action. Track Day costs typically range from $250 to $1000. And yet, as tech director, some people got right up in my face. It's like inviting someone to a party and taking major heat because the onion dip is a little salty.

So remember that these events are gifts. Gifts to participants and a gift to our segment of the hobby. We get the opportunity to show the hot rod world that our cars can, in fact, perform at supercar levels across a variety of disciplines. And we get to tell our fellow enthusiasts:

Get Your Car Done and Drive It

Bow Tie 67
11-11-2009, 07:42 AM
Well said guys.

Steve you are right on the money as far as these events being gifts. Racing like this in local events costs more and without the caliber of cars we enjoy. Mister " cheap *ss " here went to the 2nd run through the hills when he saw the low entry fees. Yep I drove 600 miles to save a buck!

Bill Howell
11-11-2009, 10:55 AM
We were on the road until LATE last night and after 13 days of being gone, I have been swamped this morning. I am just getting to read this.

Cam, first let me say this event was so much fun and it was an honor to be asked to participate. I figured my car to be about a midpack car and probably fell somewhere in that area, maybe a little further back. I told Rob Kinnan thanks for spinning out in turn one, at least then I knew I would not be last.
Since the Optima Challenge doubled in size this year and is just the second year, I am sure like anything there were growing pains and minor issues. As a participant, I did not notice any the whole day. I think the venue is perfect, I love the fact that actual SEMA cars are being beat on, even though I am not sure how "SEMA" my car actually is, at least it was under the roof, in the building and posed as one anyway. "TRUE STREET" is what I preach here all the time and that means driving your car. Several of us proved that is possible and as long as we did respectfully on the track we did what we set out to do. I think there was a tremendous mix of cars there, and I loved seeing the older cars beat up on the new, much more expensive ones. Nothing like seeing Jackass pull away from a new corvette, great stuff.
I think the other thread here has some decent suggestions for you and others to look at, but, in the end, you all need to do what is best for your event. I know how it is to try and please everyone, as Steve said, impossible. I think the closer to the top people where in the running, the more they were interested in the points system and how they faired. I am sure Optima, FM3 and everyone else making decisions will check and be sure all the math worked out.
As one small guy in a sea of cool cars, I just want you to know how much I appreciate all you and your company did to make this a reality and it will be fun to watch it grow. I know it was the buzz at SEMA all week, and for there to be so much discussion about it on the net, it just goes to show how important an event it is to our community and hobby.
I seriously doubt I will be able to pony up and have another car there next year but I want you to know, I do plan to attend as a spectator and will be happy to help out any way I can. You have my number, feel free to call anytime.

Oh, and tell Jimi to never fear that TY guy.....lol

11-17-2009, 11:31 AM
Ditto on what Steevo and Bill said ..