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    • OPTIMA's Ultimate Street Cars at Sebring

      optima's 2024 Search for the Ultimate Street Car begins at Sebring

      by Jim McIlvaine
      Photos by Kaleb Kelley

      When optima’s Ultimate Street Car Invitational first began, Pro-Touring cars dominated the top of the podium for the first several years. As time went on, late-model cars started to figure out how to do well in the Wynrock Speed Shop Design & Engineering Challenge and the tables began to turn. At the same time, the competitive importance of traction control and anti-lock brakes began to emerge.

      When Danny Popp won his first OUSCI title in Todd Rumpke’s ’06 Corvette in 2011, some suggested the heyday of the Pro-Touring movement in OPTIMA events was over, but that turned out to not be the case. Mark Stielow won the following year in a ’67 Camaro & Brian Hobaugh won the year after in a ’65 Corvette. Late-model cars would continue to pick up OUSCI titles, but Mike DuSold’s ’67 Camaro also won twice and some would argue CB Ramey’s ’87 Corvette would also count as a “Pro-Touring” win in 2020.

      The success of the late-model cars did end up forcing a change in the Pro-Touring cars that run in the Speedtech GTV Class in the series, but that’s what the series has always been about- showcasing the automotive aftermarket. Stielow was early to the party with ABS in his Camaros, but other top drivers quickly adapted a lot of modern technology into their classic rides, just as the pioneers of the Pro-Touring movement did decades ago with so many other modern upgrades.

      The top GTV cars in the series now routinely have traction control, anti-lock brakes and even sequential gear boxes and it’s making a difference in the results. Chris Smith’s ’70 Camaro tied the series record for most points at an event last season, grabbing 498 out of 500. He also joined Brian Hobaugh’s ’73 Camaro and Ryan Breezee’s ’69 Camaro in the top-10 at the 2023 OUSCI.

      As the 2024 season opened at Sebring International Raceway in mid-February, we continued to see several Pro-Touring cars finish inside the top-10 overall results, including Smith, who scored the most points on the weekend, as well as Larry Woo’s ’68 Camaro, Ron Scott’s ’63 Corvette and Jason Bottenfield’s ’69 Camaro. In fact, no other class at Sebring had more cars in the top-10 than the GTV Class and there are more GTV cars registered for the 2024 season than any other class. That doesn’t even include the vintage entries from the Downforce Motorsports GTR Class or the No-Limit Engineering GTT Class for trucks.

      The Pro-Touring movement seems to be thriving in the OPTIMA series and we look forward to seeing how the 2024 season unfolds! You can learn more about the series and how you can get involved at www.DriveUSCA.com

      Top Ten Overall

      Place Name Car Class Points
      1. Chris Smith 1970 Chevrolet Camaro GTV 489
      2. Dave Schotz 2022 Chevrolet Camaro GT 477
      3. Ryan Mathews 2002 Chevrolet Corvette GTL 477
      4. Larry Woo 1968 Chevrolet Camaro GTV 476
      5. Austin Barnes 2020 Ford Mustang GT 476
      6. Mike Gallagher 2016 Ford Focus RS GTS 464
      7. Ron Scott 1963 Chevrolet Corvette GTV 462
      8. Jason Bottenfield 1969 Chevrolet Camaro GTV 461
      9. Dayton de la Houssaye 2016 Mazda MX-5 GTC 459
      10. Collin King 2018 Chevrolet Camaro GT 452

      QA1 First Timer Award

      Joshua Johnson - 1979 Chevrolet Camaro

      Anderson Composites Competitor’s Choice Award

      Ron Scott 1963 - Chevrolet Corvette

      Operational Speed Supply Most-Improved Driver

      Patrick Lever - 1966 Superformance GT40

      Summit Racing Spirit of the Event Invitation

      Mike Owen - 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle

      Sparky’s Showdown Winner

      Steve Rivett - 1968 Chevrolet Camaro

      2024 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Schedule

      February 23-25: Sebring Raceway
      March 1-3: Thunderhill Raceway

      May 3-5: Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca
      June 28-30: Road America
      July 26-28: Portland International Raceway
      August 16-18: Summit Point Motorsports Park
      October 4-6: Virginia International Raceway
      October 31 - November 6: OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational Las Vegas

      Check out the full set of photos for this event on the HostMyJunk.com Gallery. Click here to see them all!

      Remember to add the OPTIMA Network on Roku and watch all the past seasons of this series free and on-demand!

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