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Ken Thwaits Wins 2017 OUSCI

A total of 92 vehicles competed, in the 2017 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational, held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, over the weekend of November 4-5. After two action-packed days of competition and challenges from past champions and newcomers alike, Ken Thwaits drove his 2006 Mitsubishi Evolution RS on Forgeline one piece forged monoblock GS1R wheels to victory and was named the 2017 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational champion!

“I was very driven and very determined, especially after taking second place last year,” said Ken. “This car had never won a race, and it’s the third year we’ve run it. We had car problems all year long. After our failure, at New Jersey, we stripped it down and rebuilt it from the ground up. But it’s like solving a Rubik’s Cube, you fix things better every time you fail. We finally got our win, and we picked a good time for it to all come together!”

Ken acknowledged a long list of companies and individuals who helped him secure his 2017 championship, but he specifically cited his Forgeline wheels, saying, “Dave and Steve Schardt of Forgeline make the best looking and strongest wheel out there; thank you for your support! Now the Ultimate Street Car trophies have made it to Nashville safely, and rest assured, we will take care of our version of the Stanley Cup for the year to come. And I’ll be back next year!”

This is Ken’s first OUSCI championship, though he has competed in four OUSCI finals and finished second overall, in the 2016 event. His name will now be engraved on the traveling trophy for another year, after an incredibly close win (just three points) over the second place finisher, Austin Barnes.

In addition to Ken’s overall victory, he also clinched the win in the Holley EFI GTL class. Other class winners include Larry Woo, who won the GTV class with his 1968 Camaro on Forgeline GA3R Open Lug wheels, and Bryan Johnson, who won the Franklin Road Apparel GT class, with his 2013 Camaro on Forgeline one piece forged monoblock GA1R Open Lug wheels.

Forgeline customers also comprised six of the top ten overall 2017 OUSCI finishers, including third place Mike DuSold, in his 1967 Camaro on Forgeline one piece forged monoblock CF1 Open Lug wheels, fifth place (and multi-time OUSCI-champion) Danny Popp, in his 2003 Corvette Z06 on Forgeline GA3R wheels, sixth place Randy Johnson, in his 2002 Corvette Z06 on Forgeline one piece forged monoblock AR1 wheels, eighth place Larry Woo, and ninth place Jake Rozelle, in his 2003 Corvette Z06 on Forgeline one piece forged monoblock VX1R 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 Autocross, during the day. Ken dominating both the autocross and the speed stop challenge, with his agile Forgeline-equipped all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Evo. And later that evening, competitors faced public roads, with the Lucas Oil Road Rally.

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. The top three spots all went to Forgeline-equipped vehicles. Mike DuSold’s 67 Camaro ranked the highest, but he was followed closely by Larry Woo’s ’68 Camaro and Ken Thwaits’ 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. Though Ken is a very capable road course pilot, he would face extremely stiff competition from several other highly-skilled drivers whose cars benefitted from more power and more grip. Indeed, the top two spots went to Austin Barnes, in his 2010 Dodge Viper, and former OUSCI-champion Danny Popp, in his C5 Z06 (which was unfortunately plagued by clutch problems, all weekend). Ken managed an 11th place finish, on the road course, but thanks to his dominating performance on Saturday, his resulting 488 point total was enough to narrowly secure victory!

We are extremely proud of Ken and all of the drivers who made us look good, at the 2017 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational, and we’re very thankful that they trust Forgeline to deliver the highest levels of performance, quality, and safety!

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