Five different segments make up Optima's Search for the Ultimate Street Car, presented by Advance Auto Parts. Finish at the very top in each segment and you can earn 100 points, making 500 points a "perfect" score for a weekend. The competition in this series has been so tough over the last five-and-a half seasons, that no one has ever compiled a perfect score. However, when Optima's street car series made its fourth stop of the 2019 season at Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR), Mike DuSold's 1967 Camaro came as close to perfect as anyone ever has, grabbing 498 points in the Holley EFI GTL class.
DuSold achieved this feat by winning the Lingenfelter Design & Engineering Challenge, the Falken Tire Road Course Time Trial, the QA1 Autocross, grabbing all 100 points on the Lucas Oil Road Rally, and finishing third overall in the PowerStop Speed Stop Challenge, giving him a total of 498 points. That mark ties the series record set by Steve Kepler's Nissan GT-R earlier this season at Daytona. DuSold's Camaro did not compete in that event, but both cars were in Colorado and Kepler's GT-R picked up an impressive 477 points in the Recaro GTS class, two behind class runner-up Jordan Priestley's 2017 Corvette.
After running three of the first four events (point totals are based on a competitor's best three events), DuSold now has a staggering total of 1,488 points out of 1,500, which is seven more points than he had all of last season, when his Camaro beat Ken Thwaits' Evo by a single point for the Holley EFI GTL class championship. While there are still three events remaining in the regular season, it would now take a near-perfect performance from someone in those three events to get past DuSold. Danny Popp's 2003 Corvette is the only other GTL class car to top 490 points so far this season (491), but he'd need to average 499 points in the final two events to surpass DuSold's total.
While the math says it's still possible, DuSold has all but locked up the Holley EFI GTL class championship in just the fourth event of the season. However, there is a lot yet to be decided in the other classes in this series. A total of 18 cars in the Classic Car Liquidators GTV class are scheduled to run at least three events this season, and the points chase there is still absolutely wide open.
Brian Hobaugh's 1973 Camaro took home the class win at PPIR, but he already won and qualified for a trip to Las Vegas earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That sent the invitation for the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) to runner-up Eric Sheely's 1972 Corvette.
The Recaro GTS class was absolutely stacked with tough competitors at PPIR. Since everyone on the podium had already won their way into the OUSCI, the invitation fell to Fourth-place finisher Jake Rozelle. In the GTE class for electric vehicles, Vernon Jolley's 2015 Spark picked up the invitation, but he had to decline a return trip to Las Vegas. Vernon and his wife are celebrating 50 years of marital bliss in 2019, so he promised her they would go on a trip to celebrate, which conflicts with the SEMA show and OUSCI, but we expect him back in 2020.
In the GT class, Anthony Scalici overcame all kinds of transportation issues to finish on top, as he attempts to run all seven qualifying events from his home base of Olympia, Washington. From tow vehicle woes to trailer tire issues, it seems like nearly every possible obstacle is being thrown in his path when he's not on the track. However, once he gets to the track, it's a different story and Scalici's winning performance at Pikes Peak has helped extend his lead over Second place Brian Shelley's 1LE Camaro. Cody Mason had already secured his invitation to Las Vegas in the Outlaw class, so Jeremy Swenson knew he was a lock as the only other competitor in that class. However, he still went out and earned the invitation, topping Mason for the class win.
The search resumes next month at the iconic Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. If you're in the area be sure to check out the action, as spectator admission is free. Learn more about the series and how you can get your street car involved at driveoptima.com. CHP
Classic Car Liquidators GTV Class (pre-1990, 3,200+ pounds)
- Brian Hobaugh, 1973 Camaro
- Eric Sheely, 1972 Corvette
- Efrain Diaz, 1969 Camaro
Recaro GTS Class (post-1989, 3,200+ pounds, two-seaters and AWD vehicles)
Holley EFI GTL Class (non-compacts under 3,200 pounds)
- Mike DuSold, 1967 Camaro
- Lynn Proctor, 2005 Dodge Viper
- Carrie Willhoff, 2010 Corvette
Optima Chargers GTE Class (BEV electric vehicles)
- Karen Thomas, 2018 Tesla X
- Vernon Jolley, 2015 Spark
GTC Class (two-wheel drive compacts, 107-inch wheelbase or less)
Optima Batteries GT Class (post-1989, 3,200+ pounds, 2wd sedans, four-seater coupes, trucks, etc.)
- Tony Scalici, 2018 Camaro
- Jonathan Blevins, 2008 Ford Mustang
- Wes Drelleshak, 2018 Camaro
Outlaw Class (relaxed aero rules, pro drivers allowed)
- Jeremy Swenson, 2011 Corvette
- Cody Mason, 2018 Corvette
Spectre Performance Spirit of the Event Award: Mike Trenkle, 1982 Ford Mustang
Remaining 2019 OPTIMA Search for the Ultimate Street Car Schedule:
Road America August 16-17
Auto Club Speedway September 14-15
NOLA Motorsports Park October 5-6
Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational November 9-10
Step By Step
Photography by Jim McIlvaine