Optima Ultimate Street Car 2020 Pikes Peak PPIR Track Event

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In a year of cancelled events the 2020 Optima Shootout at PPIR went off without a hitch.

Corvette fans waited with great anticipation for the launch of the much-heralded C8, which promised new levels of performance as the first-ever mid-engine sports car to wear the Corvette name. As the C8R gets up to speed at the professional level, the prior generations are cleaning house in OPTIMA’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car, presented by Advance Auto Parts. The Optima events have been going on for over a decade now, and it’s a great chance to see modified classic muscle battle it out with modern cars at some of the most iconic racing venues around the country. This time around the event was held at Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR).

Corvettes are eligible to compete in four of the seven classes hosted by the series, and through the first three events, they’ve won 11 out of 12 times. Not only have they made that mark, but three different drivers have three class wins each, in three different generations of Corvettes. We’ll start with CB Ramey’s ’87 Corvette, which was pieced together from a flood-ravaged C6 and now boasts a 720-horsepower LS7. CB’s C4 came out of the gates strong, having won the first three events in the Classic Car Liquidators GTV Class for pre-1990 vehicles, with a goal of running the full schedule.

First-gen Camaros had long been the preferred platform for the vintage class because of the massive amount of aftermarket support, but Ramey saw an opportunity to exploit the rulebook’s allowance of some C4s in the vintage class. However, that opportunity also came with the reality that aftermarket support to build a C4 to the level needed to be competitive in this series was virtually non-existent. The end result is a highly customized car that may prove to be a roadmap for many other C4 owners looking to step up the performance of their cars in a serious way.

The aftermarket has been much kinder for the C5 Corvettes, but that presents its own unique challenges in this series. The C5 has long been the weapon of choice for many track enthusiasts because of the relatively-low cost to purchase, the high amount of out-of-the-box performance it offers, and the ease with which even more improvements can be made. That has made the C5 a wildly popular platform in this series, with more than two dozen examples competing last season.

The challenge for Rozelle was to separate his C5 from that rather large pack, and he’s done it so far with an 800-hp Lingenfelter LS7, a stunning purple paint job, copious amounts of purposeful modifications, and outstanding driving. Even though his Corvette swept the first three events and holds an early lead over Robert DeuPree’s Lamborghini, steep challenges remain.

The first three events in the DriveOPTIMA series this season have all been “West Coast” events, which means a slew of heavyweights back East, including four-time OUSCI champ Danny Popp are waiting on the other side of the Mississippi like Darth Maul ready to take on Obi Wan. Rozelle doesn’t have plans to run again until the Las Vegas finale, but that could change if the points chase tightens up in the second half of the regular season.

Finally, we look at Austin Barnes, who had previously-dominated the GTS Class in a Dodge Viper ACR but couldn’t find a way to take home the overall OUSCI title, finishing second in each of the last three years. The Viper has been replaced in 2020 with a C6 Corvette that Robert DeuPree had spent the past few seasons dialing in, and Barnes hasn’t missed a beat since he got behind the wheel. With defending champion Mike DuSold sending his now banned tube-frame chassis first-gen Camaro on a mission to conquer Pike’s Peak and Ken Thwaits racing Audis in the Trans Am series, this could be Barnes’ year.

Barnes has been near-perfect in the timed segments, and his ever-improving scores in the Lingenfelter Design & Engineering Challenge have made him nearly unbeatable until the OUSCI. It’s at that event where a bevy of show-stoppers tend to come in and grab valuable D&E points from the top contenders. The more of those cars that make an appearance in the OUSCI, the closer to perfect Barnes needs to be on the track, but that may change in 2020. Barnes’ average finish in Design & Engineering through the first three events is 97.3 points out of 100, and Jake Rozelle has taken the top spot overall from him twice on the Falken Tire Road Course in the first three events.

If the first three events tell us anything about what’s to come in Las Vegas, it’s that whomever wins the Ultimate Street Car title in 2020 will need to bring their “A” game and run a near flawless event. That’s really the point of this whole thing- put the world’s best street cars together and find the best of the bunch. Hang on, because we think 2020 is going to be a wild ride. See the current point standings and get more information on how you can get in on the action in your street car at www.DriveOPTIMA.com

Holley EFI GTL Class (non-compacts under 3200 pounds)

1. Jake Rozelle, 2003 Chevrolet Corvette
2. Robert DeuPree, 2013 Lamborghini Gallardo
3. Scot Spiewak, 2003 Chevrolet Corvette

Classic Car Liquidators GTV Class (pre-1990, 3200+ pounds)

1. CB Ramey, 1987 Chevrolet Corvette
2. Eric Sheely, 1972 Chevrolet Corvette
3. Chris Smith, 1970 Chevrolet Camaro

GTS Class (post-1989, 3200+ pounds, two-seaters & awd vehicles)

1. Austin Barnes, 2009 Chevrolet Corvette
2. Steve Kepler, 2013 Nissan GT-R
3. Jordan Priestley, 2017 Chevrolet Corvette

GT Class (post-1989, 3,200+ pounds, 2wd sedans, 4-seater coupes, trucks, etc… )

1. Dennis Healy, 2015 Ford Mustang GT
2. John Grow, 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
3. Jonathan Blevins, 2008 Shelby GT500

GTC Class (two-wheel drive compacts, 107-inch wheelbase or less)

1. Dave Stock, 2006 Mazda Miata
2. Thomas Litton, 1997 Mazda Miata
3. Matt Davis, 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Outlaw Class (relaxed aero rules, pro drivers allowed)

1. Michael Damman, 2009 Chevrolet Corvette
2. Jim Boller, 2010 Chevrolet Corvette
3. Josh Stahl, 1969 Mercedes-Benz SEL

Spirit of the Event Award:

Josh Stahl, 1969 Mercedes-Benz SEL

2020 OPTIMA Search for the Ultimate Street Car Schedule

Atlanta Motorsports Park July 25-26
Road America August 14-15
NOLA Motorsports Park September 19-20
NCM Motorsports Park October 10-11
OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational November 7-8

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About Bazie 3622 Articles
I love anything to do with classic cars and vintage cars and I own a few classic cars. I regular attend classic car shows in my spare time.

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