Popp Wins 4th OUSCI Title
A total of 86 vehicles competed in the 2016 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational, held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, over the weekend of November 5-6. After two action-packed days of competition and challenges from past champions and newcomers alike, Danny Popp drove his 2003 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 on Forgeline GA3R wheels to victory and was named the 2016 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational champion! His 2016 victory makes three consecutive championships, for Danny, and makes him the first ever four-time champion!
“I’m the lucky idiot that gets to drive that car, because extraordinary results are more easily accomplished through the efforts of many. And I feel very fortunate and blessed that we were able to continue the performance that we have,” said Popp, during the post-race interview. When asked about his unusual adventure, during the hot lap challenge, he explained, “Up to this date, this blue Corvette of mine had never been off track, and I stuffed that thing up to the axles, in the beach up there… The ABS failed and locked the rear brakes up at 140, and we took a one way trip right to the gravel… We wedged so much sand under the car that there was no way that I was getting out. That car doesn’t have tow hooks, unfortunately. We were pulling it from the harness bar, and that wasn’t working. We eventually just hooked that Forgeline wheel and just drug it through there and got out.”
This is Danny’s fourth OUSCI championship, having also won the 2015 & 2014 events, in his blue C5 Z06, and the 2011 event, in Todd Rumpke’s Forgeline GA3R—equipped C6 Z06 “Snoopy” Corvette. His name will now be engraved on the traveling trophy for yet another year, after an incredibly close win (just eight points) over the super-fast Forgeline GS1R-equipped Mitsubishi Evo belonging to second place finisher Ken Thwaits.
In addition to the top two spots, Forgeline customers comprised four of the top ten overall 2016 OUSCI finishers, including sixth place Karl Dunn, in his 2002 Corvette Z06 on Forgeline one piece forged monoblock GA1R Open Lug wheels, and tenth place Jake Rozelle, in his ’69 Chevrolet Camaro on Forgeline GA3R wheels.
Participants tackled a series of competitive driving events, throughout the weekend. An action-packed Saturday included the Powerstop Speed Stop Challenge and the Detroit Speed & Engineering Autocross, during the day. And later that evening, competitors faced public roads on the Optima Batteries Road Rally. Danny drove to a dominating win, in the autocross, and earned a third place finish, in the speed stop challenge. Not surprisingly, Ken Thwaits was victorious, in the speed stop challenge, with his agile Forgeline-equipped all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Evo.
The high-speed Falken Tire Road Course Time Trial took place on the 2.4-mile road course, all day Sunday, with each of the competitors pushing themselves and their vehicles to the absolute limit. It was up to Danny, as the returning champion, to set the benchmark time, on the road course. And in an emotional twist, he set the 1:46 benchmark in the C6 Z06 (aka: “Snoopy”) belonging to his dear friend Todd Rumple, who lost his battle to cancer, earlier this year. Danny eventually bested his own benchmark with a winning time of 1:42.609.
Each vehicle’s overall quality and craftsmanship was also reviewed by a carefully-chosen group of judges, as part of the Lingenfelter Performance Design and Engineering Challenge, which required two days to complete. And in dramatic fashion, indicating just how close was the overall 2016 championship, Ken Thwaits also took top honors, with his Mitsubishi Evo on Forgeline GS1R wheels.
Every portion of the Invitational event offered precious points, and with Danny and Ken each claiming victories in two of the 4 scored events, it was going to be close. But when scores were finalized, at the end of the last day, Danny Popp had once again earned more than every other competitor and edged out a narrow victory.
We are extremely proud of both Danny and Ken, and we’re very thankful that they trust Forgeline to deliver the highest levels of performance, quality, and safety!