Behold the home-built track stars vying for Optima’s 2021 Ultimate Street Car title

Each year since 2008, Optima Batteries has pitted dozens of show-worthy cars and trucks of all kinds against each other to see which ones are truly as fast as they appear to be. While it started out small, the competition now includes nearly 100 vehicles vying for Optima’s Ultimate Street Car title, along with the hefty check that comes with it. Competitors make their way into the fray by qualifying at events held at car shows across the country, and Optima also selects some of the most interesting cars that debuted at the SEMA show to shake things up. Optima is looking for real street cars, not race cars, and winds up with an incredibly varied field. We found the cars lined up in a new location at this year’s SEMA show, in the Bronze lot on the south side of the South Hall.

While the first events were filled with pro-touring classic muscle cars, the event has grown to include classic trucks, late-model muscle, electric cars, and modern performance cars.

1987 Corvette Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational SEMA 2021
Brandan Gillogly

C.B. Ramey won the 2020 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational with his 1987 Corvette, and it looks like he’s back to defend. The car looks mostly the same as it did last year when it was powered by a 468-cubic-inch LS V-8. One noticeable addition is some new front aero, which may prove to add even more grip to the already potent chassis.

Obviously, Ramey isn’t alone when it comes to choosing a Corvette to compete in the OUSCI, as the field is full of Chevrolet’s plastic fantastic, including two C8s, one fielded by Ridetech founder Bret Voelkel. Corvettes and their drivers have claimed the OUSCI championship in six of the 13 years since the event started.

Brandan Gillogly

David Carroll’s 1973 Chevrolet Vega is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter LTG crate engine from Chevrolet Performance that’s backed by a Tremec TR-3160 six-speed manual. Vegas are underappreciated and Carroll’s may just help change that, as it looks amazing. The DOHC four-cylinder is an appropriate engine considering the history of the Cosworth Vega.

But wait, there’s more …

While the event is pretty heavily stacked in favor of domestic models, there’s also quite an array of imports vying for the OUSCI title as well.

Another noteworthy contingent was that of ’67-’72 Chevy trucks, spearheaded by the C10R built by Rob and Brandy Phillips of PCH Rods.

While the vehicles shown here and in the gallery below represent the bulk of the competitors, there were also some entrants found inside the convention center at the various booths, and, as we mentioned, Optima always selects some new vehicles that debuted at the show to compete for glory. If you’d like to see these cars in action in various events like a speed stop challenge and a technical autocross course, head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway after the SEMA show on November 6 and 7. The drivers give it their all and the racing is intense, and you’re always guaranteed to be surprised by the performance of these home-built track stars.

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