Last Friday thousands of HOT ROD Power Tour participants descended on Grand Prairie, Texas to celebrate the end of their exciting journey. After a grueling 1,371-mile, eight day drive it would be easy for many to kick back and celebrate. Yet for more than 30 strong-willed automotive enthusiasts their day was just beginning.
The OPTIMA(r) Faceoff at the HOT ROD Power Tour, presented by K&N Filters and Royal Purple, began Friday with 37 participants competing for an invitation to the fifth annual OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational taking place Saturday, Nov. 3, immediately following the 2012 SEMA Show. The competition began with the Ridetech Street Challenge Autocross and Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed Stop Challenge where Terry Fair in his 2011 Ford Mustang and Todd Earsley with his 2003 Mitsubishi Evolution came out on top respectively.
The next day participants drove to Decatur, Texas in the Detroit Speed Road Rally to compete in the BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge won by Louis Gigliotti (2010 Corvette ZR1) and the Lingenfelter Performance Engineering Performance Design Challenge won by Rodney Moore (1970 Plymouth 'Cuda.)
While all participants performed well and showed a great amount of enthusiasm it was Paul Welch (1978 Pontiac Trans Am) and Cliff Elliot (2011 Ford Mustang) that walked away with the "Spirit of the Event" awards and a guaranteed entry to this year's OPTIMA Invitational, as determined by the OPTIMA Invitational planning and judging committee.
"We saw a lot of amazing street cars over the weekend," said Cam Douglass, director of marketing and product development for OPTIMA Batteries. "However we really felt that these two guys demonstrated the true spirit of the event, and went above and beyond while performing to the best of their ability."
After watching the iconic 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit as a kid, Welch of Plano, Texas dreamed of owning the same black Pontiac Trans Am. After putting in 10 years of work Welch finally finished his dream car and participated in his first-ever competitive event at the OPTIMA Faceoff. The vehicle has a six speed Viper transmission, 461 engine, 18 inch snowflake wheels and a number of Detroit Speed and Wilwood Disc Brakes products. Throughout the weekend Welch perfectly exemplified the "Spirit of the Event" by showing an unparalleled amount of enthusiasm and passion for the sport.
"Getting invited to the OPTIMA Invitational is just awesome," remarked Welch. "I've seen all the OPTIMA Invitational shows on TV multiple times, and to be able to play with these guys, push my car hard and see it stay together was such a thrill. I want to thank my girlfriend who stood by me throughout the project, even allowing me to cancel our second date so I could pick up the car."
Elliott of Aransas Pass, Texas showed a lot of dedication for the sport by giving up his chance at the 2012 Camaro giveaway at the HOT ROD Power Tour Long Haulers award ceremony to participate in the Detroit Speed Road Rally. Earlier in the week Elliott had swapped out the suspension in his brother-in-law's driveway only to learn that his back two tires did not meet the necessary requirements the first day of the event. However, that did not deter Elliott and he drove to an auto parts store to have new tires mounted in the parking lot in order to participate. Earning the "Spirit of the Event" award was especially meaningful for Elliott as he revealed during the awards ceremony that the HOT ROD Power Tour and OPTIMA Faceoff events had brought him and his 19-year-old son together after an extended period of not speaking.
Summary of OPTIMA Faceoff at HOT ROD Power Tour Results:
Lingenfelter Performance Engineering Design Challenge
3. #60 Brian Finch - Hermitage, TN 1970 Chevy Nova - Royal Purple
2. #62 Bret Voelkel - Jasper, IN 1933 Ford Custom Street Rod - Ridetech
1. #33 Rodney Moore - Wylie, TX 1970 Plymouth 'Cuda
Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed Stop Challenge
3. #25 Louis Gigliotti - Plano, TX 14.060 - 2010 Corvette ZR1
2. #61 Brian Finch - Hermitage, TN 13.881 - 1971 Camaro - BFGoodrich
1. #20 Todd Earsley - Dallas, TX 13.556 - 2003 Mitsubishi Evolution
Ridetech Street Challenge Autocross
3. #61 Brian Finch - Hermitage, TN 30.748 - 1971 Camaro - BFGoodrich
2. #20 Todd Earsley - Dallas, TX 30.700 - 2003 Mitsubishi Evolution
1. #12 Terry Fair - Plano, TX 30.575 - 2011 Ford Mustang
BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge
3. #12 Terry Fair - Plano, TX 2:03.967 - 2011 Ford Mustang
2. #66 Dave Michaels - 2:01.904 - 2011 Camaro - Lingenfelter
1. #25 Louis Gigliotti - Plano, TX 1:59.772 - 2010 Corvette ZR1
OPTIMA Batteries Faceoff at HOT ROD Power Tour Overall
3. #61 Brian Finch - Hermitage, TN 1971 Camaro - BFGoodrich (tie)
3. #12 Terry Fair - Plano, TX 2011 Ford Mustang (tie)
2. #25 Louis Gigliotti - Plano, TX 2010 Corvette ZR1
1. #20 Todd Earsley - Dallas, TX 2003 Mitsubishi Evolution
Sponsors of the 2012 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational include presenting sponsors K&N Filters and Royal Purple; race event sponsors BFGoodrich, RideTech, Wilwood Disc Brakes, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering and Detroit Speed and Engineering; and associate sponsorsMagnaFlow, Roadster Shop and Centerforce. For a full list of results and more information on OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car events, please visit www.optimainvitational.com.