Mike DuSold Take Overall At OUSCI 2018

If there is one car and builder that deserves the title of “Ultimate Street Car,” you would be hard pressed to say that Mike DuSold and his twin-turbo 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, known as “Maiden Texas,” doesn’t deserve it. However, it wasn’t an easy fight as he and Austin Barnes were at tooth and nail the entire event. These are the results of the 2018 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) presented by Advance Auto Parts.

The OUSCI is the final event of the Ultimate Street Car Association (USCA) series and only those who have won events in the 2018 season or got the invited during the 2018 SEMA Show can participate in this event. This is the book end event of SEMA Week, taking place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I’ve explained this in last year’s coverage, so if you need a refresher you can do so here.

The EVs Aren’t Coming. They’re Here.

While I have a full article on the three electric vehicles (EVs) you’ll see here, I have to say this was the surprise class of the event. What I loved was the enthusiasm these drivers had about their cars and the class in general. Many of my fellow enthusiasts, and even many of my professional colleagues, will argue that there is no passion or excitement in EV racing, I’d have to argue against that.

What I saw reminded me of stories I heard during the golden age of hot rods and race cars. Back when making those then new cars drive faster with more and more power. That’s what I saw in the EV class. Yeah, the noise of a V8 or Turbocharger isn’t there, but you quickly get past that as you watch these vehicles drive to their limits. The drivers all had some sort of engine-driven background.

The Chevrolet Spark EV driver owns a twin-turbo Mustang, the Tesla Model X driver has a classic Jaguar, and the Hyundai Ioniq EV driver not only works for Hyundai’s vehicle cooling but has autocross experience. All three told the same story: the idea that you’ll miss the engine noise goes away the moment you attack the first turn. I’ll have a deeper dive into these three drivers and their EVs in a future article.

Nearly All New GMs

I did a spotlight last year on all the Corvettes that were in attendance. This year, holy cow, there were 20 of them in the 87-car field. It wasn’t even the car with the highest tally, though, as the Camaro had 24 spots in the field and there was at least one of every generation. In total, GM represented over 50-percent of the entries of the 2018 OUSCI with 48 cars. Ford/Mercury were only represented by 12 entries. Mazda, Nissan/Datsun, and Dodge had four each while Hyundai and Honda/Acura had three each. Mercedes-Benz had two and the rest were makes in single digits. To top it off, 56 cars were 2000 model year or newer with the average year of all cars in the event being 1998.7 or just over 19 years old.

This Is A Problem

That’s cool, if you’re a modern GM fan. For everyone else, it’s a problem and especially so if you’re a long-time fan of the OUSCI and remember what this event was. Not so much the average model year but the drastic amount of GM product. This event was something people would stay for after the long week of the SEMA Show and even drive out to Pahrump, Nevada. It was taking the best cars from the show and across the country to see just how street and track worthy they were.

It does show that modern cars have become very impressive off the showroom floor. We as consumers demand high-performance models from even the very basic of cars. However, because of this, I’m starting to see an over-shadowing of the hand-built, custom car proving its worthiness and what originally made this event so amazing to cover.

What’s the Problem?

This event used to be delightfully unique and should be special, it should be the All-Star Race of Custom Builders after the SEMA Show. While I get the inclusion of USCA overall round winners and class winners from each of the seven rounds, I’m starting to think that should be reduced at the very least. If anything, it should only be the class winners of the regular season. Having over 80 cars is great for participation, but the event begins to lose its luster. This is especially so when you see so many of the same car or even the same make repeatedly year after year. The lack of fans that didn’t come with the teams or drivers shows that.

With so many cars entering, what makes this event any different from a normal USCA round? What makes it worth staying for? What makes it worthy of media attention beyond being the final event? Each year, it becomes harder to answer that question. It needs to return to that bookend event that makes fans want to stay an extra two days in Las Vegas after the SEMA Show. It needs to be special again.

What’s the Solution?

Reducing car counts and getting more SEMA Show cars would be a good first step as well as custom cars that get feature coverage along with the class champions after round seven. No, we won’t have over 80 cars again, but we will have the cream of the crop. We will have what the OUSCI once was.

The Road Rally needs to run either on Las Vegas Boulevard or drive through old school Vegas with checkpoints again (they didn’t this year and drove entirely on the 15 to Shelby). I also think the first day should coincide with SEMA Ignited to get fans excited and increase interest in the event. While we close in on its tenth anniversary next year, I just don’t see it surviving another three to five years without changes, never mind another decade.

Ken Thwaits Doesn’t Repeat

Anyway, back to coverage. After his overall win in 2017, Ken Thwaits and the Showtime Motorsports Mitsubishi Evolution did not take the crown. He wasn’t far off, though, taking home third overall just 11-points shy of taking the crown again in 2018. It just proves that consistency is more important than dominating in a single area.

You could win three events, fall very short in one and lose as Austin Barnes unfortunately found out this year. Despite his 2010 Dodge Viper winning the Hot Lap Challenge, the Speed/Stop Challenge, finishing the Road Rally, and taking second in the Autocross, his 84-point score in Design and Engineering resulted in him being nine-points shy of taking the overall victory.

DuSold Takes Overall

It was every bit of the phrase, “consistency is key,” that lead to Mike DuSold’s victory with Maiden Texas. He and his 67 Camaro took top honors in the Design and Engineering section, but finished sixth in Hot Laps, third in Autocross, second in Speed/Stop, and was able to finish the Road Rally to Shelby America to get 492-points total for the event. Danny Pop, the favorite to place high in any USCA event he drives at, placed fourth in his 2003 Corvette Z06.

The Maiden Texas

Mike’s ’67 Camaro takes its warbird theme from his time working around a WWII airplane collection. The theme is more than just a paintjob as the chassis and interior all have aircraft inspiration designed into it. The engine sits further back because of a swap to a Corvette transaxle setup that was built by RPM Transmissions. With this and safety in mind, away went the original unit-body and in went a full tube chassis.

Under hood, though, is all modern muscle with its seven-liter LS-block with an ERL bottom end. The valves in the CMP heads are bumped open by their camshaft with a Holley intake. Shoving air into that are a pair of Precision Turbos with matching wastegates. An AMP EFI engine management handles the tuning of the air, fuel, spark, and boost control. It even has launch control for maximum traction during the Powerstop Speed/Stop Challenge until he needs to stop, then the Wilwood brakes are controlled by a Bosch Motorsport ABS unit. However, it’s hard to break the grip of those 335/30R18 BF Goodrich Rival S tires on Forgeline CF1 wheels.

If you think this sounds like a SCCA Trans-Am chassis with a classic Camaro body, it’s more complex than those are and wouldn’t be a deep enough comparison.

Final Thoughts and Subscribe

While I have my criticism for this year’s event and what I’m starting to see, it was still mostly a joy to cover. I carp only because I remember what it used to be, and I passionately want to see it return to that.

I want to see this event survive because it encompasses what a custom street car should be with real results. It showed that a SEMA build should accurately represent the performance product it’s showcasing by performing on track and on the street. Most importantly, it showed off the hard work of custom builders across the country whose goal was to create the Ultimate Street Car, not buy the ultimate showroom stock car with the addition of tires, wheels, coilovers and maybe a paintjob.

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Justin Banner

Justin Banner, Lead Editor and Founder of Carbage Online, has been involved with the automotive media and industry in many capacities and now tackles publication ownership with CarbageOnline.com. Prior to that, he has freelanced for top online publications of modern media that include Speedhunters, MotoIQ, Super Street Online, Hot Rod Magazine and many others. All due to his nearly 20 years experience as a mechanic, service writer, and technical support in the automotive industry. Justin is also a Journalist Level member of the Motor Press Guild - an industry recognized entity of professional automotive journalists - since 2015.

2 thoughts on “Mike DuSold Take Overall At OUSCI 2018

  1. Ah yes, the good ‘ol days of the OUSCI, like 2008, when only a dozen cars were running by the end of the day. That wasn’t exactly “the cream of the crop.” That was the car owners who had enough guts to attempt what no one at the SEMA Show was ever willing to attempt before- take a SEMA Show-quality vehicle to the race track and beat on it. The field wasn’t exactly diverse in 2009 either, when 24 of 36 entries were from GM and 16 of them were Camaros or 2010, when 35 of 51 entries were from GM and there were 29 Chevys.

    The size of the fields have increased significantly over the years, but so has the pool of cars trying to get into the OUSCI. Hundreds of cars now sign up for qualifying events each year (321 in 2018), hoping to earn one of those invitations. Unlike the regular season events where anyone can sign up, only a fraction get invitations to Las Vegas at the end of the year.

    While we’re happy to see the fans who come out to the track, the event wasn’t started to draw fans to the track or offer non-stop entertainment once there. In fact, fans weren’t even allowed to spectate at the OUSCI in the early years. These cars don’t race wheel to wheel, wrecks are very infrequent and only the people who look up live timing online know how cars are doing relative to each other while the event is going on. Some might even suggest the event isn’t very fan-friendly as a live event, when compared to traditional forms of motorsports. If the insurance company told us we couldn’t allow spectators next year, we’d miss them, but we wouldn’t cancel the event.

    The series doesn’t tell competitors to show up in a bunch of Corvettes or Camaros, it lets people decide what they want to bring out to try and qualify. The fact of the matter is, Camaros have simply proven to be more competitive than Mustangs and Challengers in the Franklin Road Apparel GT Class, although Mustangs are making headway. The same is true in the Holley EFI GTL and RECARO GTS Classes with Corvettes. Competitors like Austin Barnes and Lynn Proctor can do well in Vipers or Steve Kepler in a GT-R, but many look at the cost involved in fielding a competitive car in those classes and find Corvettes to be an exceptional bargain compared to other options. It’s also difficult and expensive to put together and keep together a 50-year old musclecar and thrash on it at racetracks all over the country all year long, but we love to see all the variety in the QA1 GTV Class. No other series in the world will have entry lists that include a Willys pickup, IH Scout, Rambler station wagon and Lamborghini Huracan Performante.

    The OUSCI technically begins when the SEMA Show starts, as all vehicles must be on display at the show all week long. The first leg of the LucasOilRacing.tv Road Rally began with the SEMA Show exit parade, which all vehicles participated in. When you’ve already put vehicles through stop & go traffic for an hour or more just leaving the show, it seems redundant and unnecessary to do it again the next day, especially when the competitors are all pretty tired already from a long week at SEMA, a full day at the track and they all need to be back out there before sunrise the next morning.

    While you’ve been to the SEMA Show before and looked at the vehicles on display, you may have never been there when they loaded in or saw the cars that weren’t driven out on the last day. The fact of the matter is, many of the cars on display at SEMA are pushed in and out because they simply can’t be driven under their own power. Cam Douglass & Jimi Day started the OUSCI, because they believed the SEMA Show and the cars on display there should represent the very best the automotive aftermarket has to offer in every aspect. They didn’t just want to see an incredible paint job. They wanted to see an incredible paint job AND an amazing stance that didn’t compromise performance AND finished interiors AND powerful engines that had good road manners and could really run at the track.

    That turned out to be a very rare combination at SEMA and still is today, although it is commonplace now in OPTIMA Alley, where the Corvettes, Camaros, Vipers, Mustangs and every other vehicle on display there can more than hold their own in every regard against any other Corvette, Viper or Mustang at that show.

    The tire rules in the OUSCI are no secret that is unveiled so late in the year, that no one can plan ahead when building a car. In fact, they’ve already been announced for 2019. However, when we get to SEMA next year, we know dozens of cars we’d like to see out there won’t be on legal tires and cars like the Cotati Camaro pictured above, that want to accept an invite and compete, won’t be able to find tires in time to do it. The 2019 date has already been announced, so anyone interested can plan their travel schedule accordingly. The format is a known quantity, so SEMA builders can talk to their clients ahead of time and get permission to compete. There really should be no excuses for not being able to compete short of not receiving an invitation, if someone really wants their vehicle to be in the event.

    Next year, I’d like to see an article on carbageonline.com by Wednesday night at SEMA, showcasing the 20 cars and trucks you would pick for the OUSCI. But in that article, all of the vehicles you select must include a statement from each of the owners/builders, confirming they would accept an invitation to the OUSCI and run their vehicle at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the weekend after the show ends. If you can’t find 20, then maybe just find your favorite 20 and include the excuses they give you for why they won’t/can’t accept an invitation to the OUSCI if someone offered it to them.

    1. Hey, Jim! Thanks for commenting. As I mentioned, I’m just a a fan of what the OUSCI was when I started to take notice of it and wasn’t trying to offend you guys or the USCA. I also feel that SEMA Show cars should represent what they are selling and run into the show. I was there early on Monday and worked with Mackin Industries as a salesman on the show floor. Unfortunately, I know how many of those cars don’t actually run and I don’t like it. It begins to feel like false advertisement when you realize the percentage of cars that don’t drive in on their own.

      I know you can’t directly control what drivers will bring but it’s one of the concerns raised from other outlets that should be there and they tell me they aren’t. I couldn’t help but notice it this year and that’s what had me concerned, too. I’ll also stand by my comment that having 80 cars is too much for an invite only or special event. That’s approaching a similar car count to a normal time attack event for Super Lap Battle, which isn’t invite only but limited to the amount of paid entries.

      I am willing to do that article, where I find 20 cars that should be in the OUSCI and see why or why they wouldn’t be able to do it. Email me, I’d like to plan that out. Justin@CarbageOnline.com

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