Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational Details:
- Held the day after the annual SEMA Show closes
- Gathers the best street-legal vehicles to prove performance capabilities
- Import fare this year included STI, GT-R and Supra
- Event helped launch TV series "Optima Batteries Search for the Ultimate Street Car"
There's one major problem with the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas. Hundreds of aftermarket parts companies display product during the trade show, but there's no way of demonstrating their functionality.
Cam Douglass, Optima Batteries' Director of Product Development, recognized the situation and created the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (USCI), formerly known as the Optima Street Car Challenge. The battery maker used this event as proving grounds for the performance capabilities of custom builds from the SEMA Show floor. Now in its sixth year, the event has come a long way from its humble beginnings, with 20-some participants to a full schedule of national qualifying events, hundreds of spectators, and even television coverage.
The Invitational gathers top-tier automotive challenges, the best street-legal vehicles and talented drivers. Last year's USCI was presented by Royal Purple Synthetic Oil and K&N Filters; the competition took place on November 9th, the day following the close of the SEMA Show. Participants took part in a variety of challenges, such as the BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge, Ridetech Street Autocross Challenge, the Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed Stop Challenge, and the Lingenfelter Performance Engineering Performance Design Challenge. The Detroit Speed and Engineering Road Rally took place the day before the challenges began.
Last year was the launch of the new television series called the Optima Batteries Search for the Ultimate Street Car. The complete series is set to air early this year on the MAV TV cable network.
This year brought an impressive lineup of judges for the Lingenfelter Performance Engineering Performance Design Challenge segment, including Murray Pfaff of Pfaff Design, Ken Lingenfelter of Lingenfelter Performance Engineering and GM Styling Design Manager/Busta Design founder Dave Ross. Some 58 competitors were on hand to face the event's challenges.
To set it all off, championship-winning race driver Randy Pobst drove the pace lap in a 2014 Mercedes AMG E63 wagon, a very limited production, twin-turbo 577 horsepower, all-wheel-drive supercar. Brian Hobaugh was crowned the overall winner, driving his 1965 Corvette to top finishes in the Ridetech Street Challenge Autocross as well as the Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed Stop Challenge. The field also included an R's Tuning Nissan R35 GT-R, the yellow one from the Mackin booth at SEMA that was headed to the 2013 Super Lap Battle/Global Time Attack event just days after the USCI.
Fans can find out more information and purchase tickets for the next show at www.optimainvitational.com.