Photos courtesy OPTIMA Batteries
Late-Model GMs, Upgraded in the Pro-Touring Style, on World-Class Racetracks
It seems odd to think about OPTIMA’s Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) being a long-standing event, but 2017 marks its tenth year. The event has evolved quite a bit over the years, including 2014 marking the beginning of the official qualifying series. What has started as primarily an industry-only gathering spawned out of the SEMA Show has now turned into a full-blown series, with every event broadcast on national TV.
As much as the OUSCI has changed, it still sticks very close to some basic principles; a safe, fun environment for real street cars and amateur drivers. Some folks come out for a fun weekend, driving their late-model and classic muscle cars, upgraded in the Pro-Touring style, on world-class racetracks, while others get serious about accumulating enough points to qualify for an invitation to the SEMA Show and the OUSCI.
A competitor’s best three events count toward their season-long total, so even though there are seven qualifying events, a competitor may do well enough at just one to qualify or they may need to run three to make the cut on points.
They’re welcome to run additional events, but only their best three finishes will count. The events themselves are comprised of five segments — the Lucas Oil Road Rally on public roads, the Lingenfelter Design & Engineering Challenge, the PowerStop Speed Stop Challenge, The Detroit Speed Autocross and the Falken Road Course Time Trial. The last three events are timed, but none are wheel-to-wheel racing, to help keep things as safe as possible.
There are also five different classes, so a stock 3rd-Gen Camaro doesn’t have to figure out how to hang with a Porsche GT3. The Vintage Class (GTV) is for any vehicle build before 1990, that weighs at least 3,200 pounds. The other four classes are for anything weighing less than 3,200 pounds and late-model vehicles in a variety of configurations. Each class winner at each qualifying event receives an invitation to SEMA and the OUSCI, but if they’ve already punched their ticket, the next-highest finisher gets the nod. The top-three non-qualifiers in each class at the end of the regular season will also receive an invitation to Las Vegas, as well as the next ten, regardless of class.
That may seem like a lot of invitations and the OUSCI has been known to exceed 80 entries, but the series has grown quite a bit over the years and there are nearly 300 different cars and trucks already signed up for qualifying events this year (most events have already sold-out). By the time the third event of the season wraps up at NCM Motorsports Park, the GTV class alone will have seen 42 different entries and could eclipse 90 by the end of the year.
The rules are set up to make the series competitive in all classes and everyone is required to run at least 200 treadwear-rated street tires, but folks who just want to come out and have fun are welcome too. You can learn more about the series and the cars running in it by heading to www.DriveOPTIMA.com and by watching the TV series every weekend, starting Friday nights at 8PM Eastern on MAVTV.