Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational
This past week has been a blur, but it has also been a whole lot of fun. Our 57 wagon was invited to be part of the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational. This is an event that happens the Saturday after SEMA in Pahrump NV where 50 of the country’s top Pro-Touring cars get invited to participate in a day full of fun and pushing your car to its limits.
My trip started the Monday before SEMA when I had to get the wagon to Vegas to be in the Optima Batteries Ultimate Steer Car Invitational car corral. I left Templeton, Ca at 1:00 AM and made the 400 mile trip to Vegas. It was a fairly uneventful trip traveling through the desert in the dark, the car ran great and I got 24 mpg thanks to the LT-1 and 6 speed combo. I arrived at 7:00 AM and got the car into the OUSCI car corral where we waited for all the other participants to show up and park their cars. At 1:00 PM the welcome meeting started and we were told how the weekend would be run and some basic info. We were given lots of stickers to put on the car, which we opted to try and stick on the windows to make sure they did not remove any of our stock paint when they came off. We were also told to be back on Thursday for a special announcement about a new part to the event.
On Thursday we found out that there would be a road rally added to the event on Friday night where we would have to meet at the Silverton Casino directly after SEMA ended for a picture and get a memory card for our digital camera. We would then have to go take pictures of the car at “famous Las Vegas landmarks” for points. We decided to head to old town and got shots of the car in the drive-through window at the Little White Chapel, and under the canopy on Fremont Street. We were even able to find Elvis and get a few pictures with him. We then made the 60 mile trip out to Pahrump where the actual track events were happening in the morning.
Saturday morning we were at the track at 7:00AM ready for tech. All the competitors were given 3 practice laps on the road course to learn the track and try and figure out the race line. We were then broken into groups and sent to our different events. My first event was on the road course. There were two cars on the track at a time with about a half lap between them. We got one warm up lap, three timed laps, and one cool down. I was in race mode right off the bat and entered turn three, which is a very tight right hander at the end of a straight, a little too fast and not having the brakes warmed up sent me spinning through the corner. I was able to collect the car and keep it on the track and I took the rest of the lap as a warm up. My three timed laps went smooth and my biggest hurdle was remembering what corner was coming up having never been on this track besides my 4 previous laps. The wagon could use some more motor for events like this. The 280 hp LT-1 was definitely under powered compared to the rest of the competition.
My next event was the auto cross. I had walked the track earlier in the day and found out it was much tighter than it looked once behind the wheel. I did my best to keep the car smooth and tried to not over drive the course. This event was a lot of fun to watch because you could see the whole course from the side lines and there were more than a handful of people who liked to power around it, which looks cool but is not the fastest way.
After lunch everyone was done with the autocross and they set up the Speed Stop Challenge. This event consisted of a standing start, go as fast as you can and stop in a stop box. It is timed so the faster you get to the stop box the shorter the time. This is where the wagon really stuck out as being under powered. The brakes worked awesome, but there was no making up for horsepower in this event. This was another fun one to watch with lots of tire smoke at both ends of the track.
At the end of the day when all the points were tallied and times recorded we got to hear the final results. The wagon came in 25th on the road course, 7th in the auto cross, and 36th in the speed stop putting us in 19th place overall. We were blown away that the big wagon with very little horse power could compete and do so well against the quality of cars that were in attendance.