It's 10:30 on a Wednesday night, and I'm driving back down to Los Angeles after a long and dusty day at the track. About half an hour ago, I handed the big silver trophy to the winner of this year's Ultimate Street Car Challenge. With an undulating two-lane highway and two-hour drive ahead, I should be exhausted, but instead I'm completely wired, feeding off the buzz of my first USCC.
Though I feel like rolling down the car window and hollering into the hot desert night, I try to relax and reflect on the day's events. It's difficult; conflicting emotions are swirling through my mind.
One of them is the intense feeling of relief that comes after successfully executing a highly anticipated and long awaited endeavor. I think I now know what it's like to give birth, to triplets, with no anesthesia, in the desert. I'm grateful for this odd happy/empty bit of euphoria. Without it, I'd probably pass out and drive right off the road.
The other is pure, chest-thumping pride. What we did today is proof to me that Sport Compact Car is this country's best tuning magazine. Yeah, I'm caught up in the moment and my head has swollen a bit, but honestly, who does anything remotely similar to this competition?
The Ultimate Street Car Challenge is like no other vehicle test I've ever taken part in or even read about. This wasn't just running some sports cars through a few simple tests. We didn't simply record a lap time, a pull on the dyno, or an ET at the drag strip. We did it all and more, with 10 heavily modified street cars.
But don't take my word for it. Just look at the caliber of tuner and vehicles we drew to this event and continue to draw, year after year. These are cars you don't see anywhere else, prepared by some of America's best performance experts. And even then, they bloodied knuckles, blew up engines and drivetrains, and bled bank accounts dry just to make it through our 48-hour ordeal.
The USCC is the embodiment of Sport Compact Car's philosophy of real tuning-for the street, for the track, but definitely not for everyone. You won't find anything like it anywhere else. Not on TV, not on the web, and certainly not in any other magazine. And I can't tell you how good that feels. To find out what I'm blabbering about, turn to page 56 and get started. I sincerely hope you enjoy it. I certainly did.
USCC 2006 Would Not Have Been Possible Without...Fred Changf,,*Jeff Cheechovf,,*Jay Chenf,,*Neil Chiricof,,*Glenda Elamf,,*Mark Hanf,,*Barry Hathawayf,,*Teddy Hiraokaf,,*Dennis Hollowayf,,*Andy Hopef,,*John Pearley Huffmanf,,*Ryan McKayf,,*K&N Air Filtersf,,*Mike Kentf,,*John Kiewiczf,,*Jackie Liuf,,*Howard Limf,,*Elliot Moranf,,*Troy Sumitomof,,*James Tatef,,*Jim Wolff,,*James Yimf,,*and all of the competitor