Words and Photos by Austin Cabot
For the past few years, there has been an area at the SEMA show that has always been of interest to me. Many that visit the show never even see it. The true drivers among us probably make it a point to get there. It's outside, with a lot of interesting vehicles for driving enthusiasts to drool over. They call it Optima Alley and it's one of the hidden gems of the SEMA show.
The Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (#OUSCI) is the final round in the Optima Street Car Series. The OUSCI is a driving competition and this year, there were 8 events all around the country leading up to the finals in Las Vegas. At each event, the top cars and drivers would qualify for a spot at the Las Vegas Invitational. What you see here are the best of the best of the Optima Ultimate Street Car competitors. Unfortunately, I could not attend the event, but I did take the time (as I do every year) to stroll the lot. I'll be posting a video shortly to show you just what the spread it like, but for now, here are a few photos.
Above, tracktuned.com friend, Andy Smedegard gives an interview for a documentary by Boosted Flims. Andy has had a heck of a season in the RS Motors / 365Racing.com / #GRIDLIFE Mitsubishi EVO and is a likely candidate to win this whole event. (***EDITORS NOTE - Andy went on to take 2nd overall at the event***). We will have a feature on this car in the coming weeks.
The spread of vehicles is absolutely outstanding. Kevin Tulley's 1964 Plymouth Valiant is quite the opposite of Andy's Mitsubishi EVO above. This is one of the reasons I love this part of the show so much. Very different vehicles - all of which are driven in anger and enjoyed the way they were meant to be enjoyed. No show cars here.
Though these cars aren't show cars, some of the could easily be show winners. Check out whats under the hood of this 1972 Chevy C10 (Yes, that's a Pickup for those of you uninformed). It's a work of art in its own right. Look at those massive BFGoodrich Rival S tires. I didn't check to see what size they were, but they were certainly massive. This truck has to have grip for days.
Speaking of BFGoodrich, the Rival S tire seemed to be on a large number of vehicles at the event. I've heard good things about them but have not been able to try them out myself yet. Hopefully I will be able to soon.
One of my favorite cars in Optima Alley was this Fiat 500 Abarth from Road Race Motorsports. Something about these little cars is so appealing to me. They look like tons of fun.
Finally, there is this awesome Mitsubishi Starion with an LS Swap. Like I said a little something for everyone. These are just my highlights from Optima Alley. I can't wait until next years SEMA show so I can again walk the alley and drool over cars that are actually used. See our full gallery below. - Austin