Speedtech Cars head to the SEMA Optima Challenge!
The granddaddy of Pro Touring events has got to be the Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car challenge held at several venues across the US. Through earning points or through a special invite racers shoot for the ultimate prize of a spot at the end of the season final event held in conjunction with the world renowned SEMA automotive aftermarket specialty products show. The competition at these preliminary events is nothing less than fierce, so earning one of these end of the year race spots is a formidable reflection of a well built car and the driver's skill and ability to make it perform. This year we have our spotlight on three different drivers who, while sporting Speedtech suspension products on their cars, earned their right to compete at the final event. Read on to learn a little more about these cars and drivers.
Being pitted against the best drivers and cars of this season's Search for the Ultimate Street Car challenge, each of the Speedtech equipped cars' drivers told us the competition was tough; all of the top drivers and cars are piloted by seasoned veterans to Pro Touring events besides and including the Optima Challenge. Despite what they were up against, all three of these cars and drivers performed exceptionally well considering they all got their cars set up and ready to start racing within just this last year. Here are the final results for each event...
Nick Relampagos Brock Makin John Woods
1970 Camaro Z/28 1968 Camaro SS 1970 Firebird 400
- 10th Place Autocross 14th Place in Autocross 13th Place in Autocross
- 7th Place in Road Race 11th Place in Road Race 15th Place in Road Race
- 3rd Place in Speedstop 12th Place in Speed Stop 13th Place in Speed Stop
Nick plays with concrete for a living and one thing he loves more than making it into cool counters, fire pits and such is pounding on it with his 70 Z/28 Camaro. The most hard core of these three Optima attendees, this "ZL70" is equipped with our complete ExtReme subframe and suspension package. Set on serious mode, this car sports 315 and 335 tires wrapped in Forgeline wheels and gets the job done with a supercharged 670 hp LSA engine. Backed by a T56 this combo pumps out gobs of torque to navigate the cones and near endless hp for the road course. Performance doesn't stop there, Powerstop brakes bring it all to a halt with 14" rotors and Godzilla sized C6 Z06 6-piston calipers. Nick has been running the Optima challenge and other Pro Touring based events out west and through his ever perfecting driving skill earned the points to be awarded a SEMA Optima spot.
Nick told us that one of the best parts about being invited to the end of the year event was meeting not only the racers he's read about, but also the fans of his car. Many people have seen it in different media features including Motor Trend On Demand's "House of Muscle" series. After the SEMA festivities were over and the racing began, Nick shared his excitement for having the opportunity to share the race track with the big boys of the Pro Touring world.
Brock is an Aussie. That alone should make it no surprise that with his "Pedal on the floor and hang on tight!" mentality, in his barely finished car and only a couple of local events under his belt, the car smoked plenty of seasoned drivers when he took a small race tour through the US. Hitting a few GoodGuys autocross events he then went on to put on a show at an Optima good enough event to win himself a spot at the season end SEMA hosted Optima Challenge. Mind you he did this with a fairly mild LS engine and on street tires in the odd sizes of 325 mm rear and "skinny" 245 front widths. Many people were a little concerned that with less tire upfront he may not fair well but two things make this Camaro do it's thing as successfully as it does- 1. Suspension in the form of our Pro Touring subframe /front suspension with Baer 6 piston brakes backed by a Torque Arm rear suspension, and 2. Brock's gifted "Rookie" driving skills!
With racing opportunity somewhat limited in his now homeland of western Canada, Brock told us one of the things he enjoyed the most leading up to this season end race was touring with his family around the United States, hitting up race events and sight seeing as he went along, and making a bunch of new friends. Having the opportunity to then race against some of the best in the states was the topping on the cake.
John's a techie by day, family man by evening, and a rock band member by night. Besides everything that keeps him busy he has a real love for Trans Am style racing ...and Trans Am race cars. So much so that he tears up the track in his own '70 Firebird 400 built to look akin to an early 70s Trans Am racer. Staying true to that genre he opted for a very healthy small block Chevy mill that rips out 627 hp @ 7200 rpms and backed it with a Legend LGT-700 transmission and full floater 9" Ford rear axle. Although he decided to keep the factory subframe, he did stray from T/A rules by bolting in our Track Time full suspension package for 2nd gen F-bodies. The frame now sports our front control arms, sway bar, Chicane coilover conversion, AFX spindles and quick ratio steering box. Out back is our torque arm, and 315 BFG Rival S tires roll on Forgeline wheels surrounding Wilwood Aero 6 brakes. While right at home on any road course, this nasty 'Bird with John behind the wheel also rips it up on the autoX, well enough to earn his spot at the SEMA Optima challenge.
John shared with us that besides the rush of dueling with a great group of winners on the track, one of the highlights of the experience was driving his car along the SEMA end of the event cruise route, and seeing and hearing thousands of people cheer him on as he navigated across the SEMA grounds and out onto the cruise.
With this year's season coming to a close, what's on deck for 2018? John said he was so impressed by the grip created in Nick's car that he's looking at rounding up a few more music gigs so he can make the conversion to the ExtReme side too. Brock has two options- he's toying with staying on the Northern continent another year and do as much racing as he can over here, or, he may pack things up and head back down under to Australia and help ramp up the Pro Touring autocross scene with the Apocalaps group. As for Nick he plans to keep tuning and tweaking both the car and the driver mod to come back next year with his sights on climbing the race results ladder even higher. Whatever happens you know that all three of these cars and drivers will be hitting it hard. Keep an eye out for them in 2018!
Wanna join in? If you're running our parts on your car and putting them to use by attending races, send us some photos and/or video with a description of what's done to the car and the type of racing you're doing and we'll include you in our "At The Track" spotlight page too! Email your info to email@example.com and join the fun!