2009 Optima Street Car Invitational


sema.optimainvitational101Whoever came up with the idea to put on an event that would demonstrate the performance capabilities of the cars being showcased at SEMA was a genius! And that’s exactly what the Optima Invitational is all about. Happening the day after SEMA ends, it gives people a chance to put their “money where their mouth is” so to speak. 2009 was just the second year for this event, and the fellows at FM3 made sure that it was pulled off without a hitch.

This year there were 38 vehicles competing for the Ultimate Street Car title along with 14 other cars under the “exhibition only” category, making for 51 beautiful cars out at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch on race day. What goes into an Ultimate Street Car you ask? You might say it needs to be well rounded. At this invitational race they competed in 4 catagories: Road Course, Autocross, Acceleration/Braking, and Styling.

sema.2009.081Having driven the course the day before, I had an extra appreciation for what these cars and drivers were doing. Not surprising to many, Bruce Cambern’s 1966 Cobra took the cake in three of the four catagories. On the Ride Tech Autocross it got time of the day (by at least a second I believe) of 39.546 seconds. In the Baer Brakes Speed Stop it did 6.7 seconds.

Everyone was quite surprised however when they tallied all the scores to designate the winner of “Ultimate Street Car.” It wasn’t the 1966 Cobra but last year’s defending champion “Bad Penny.” This announcement surprised most at the awards ceremony since the Cobra had done so well. When I’d talked to Bad Penny’s driver, David Pozzi (who also does work building the car), earlier in the day he said he was disappointed with the performance of Bad Penny and was expecting better results. In races like this though, it’s consistent performance and split seconds that separate a winner from a loser…so Bad Penny, congratulations! sema.optimainvitational006

Bad Penny winning wasn’t the only surprise of the day, a few cars went down throughout the day in some very interesting ways. For details (come on, we all know crashes are the most exciting thing!) See’m here: Crashes from Optima Street Car Invitational. And roll on over to the MyRideisMe gallery page to see pictures of all the cars in action, including some really cool Hot Rods such as a 1927 Tucci Roadster, 1933 Factory Five Ford Coupe,  Hollywood Hot Rod’s Model T Roadster Pickup, and even a 1957 Malibu Wagon!