Bucket List Event: The Motor State Challenge is for Drivers

“To each their own..” as the saying goes.  Some folks build flawless show cars, others live for straight line acceleration, off-roading or racing in a circle. Some of us want it ALL: Speed, Stop, Turn, Show and Race. After all, if your car can do it all, then it’s the ultimate hot rod. The Motor State Challenge is an annual pilgrimage where enthusiasts satisfy their need for speed driving pro-touring muscle cars and late model sports cars.

The Motor State Challenge just celebrated its tenth anniversary. The event was started by the folks at Motor State Distributing — a speed equipment warehouse based in Watervliet, Michigan.  You don’t normally see big box product warehouses hosting events for end users.  That sort of “outside the box” thinking is exactly what our great hobby needed at the time. Young pro-touring manufacturers needed help getting into the supply chain, while speed shops needed to think beyond street/strip. Kudos to Motor State Distributing for creating an event that brought every one together.

Thursday: Road Tour With Police Escort

The Motor State Challenge starts with an impromptu car show at Motor State Distributing’s headquarters. The meet and greet is a great chance to catch up with old friends and compare winter performance upgrades. After a driver’s meeting, we all fire up our engines and line up for a road tour with police escort. It’s a sight to see. Law enforcement officers on motorcycles race forward to shut down side streets so that 100 plus hot rods can rumble through various towns and back roads. Inevitably, crowds form along the route. The tour is followed by a barbecue in the host hotel parking lot.

Things have changed significantly over the last ten years. Engine output and tire technology have progressed significantly. With so much available power and grip on hand, pro-touring cars are faster, easier to drive and more reliable than ever. Another interesting change, ten years ago the Motor State Challenge hosted classic muscle cars almost exclusively.  Today, many enthusiasts show up with one classic muscle car and one late model muscle car. We see many instances of husband and wife teams who show up with a late model Corvette or Gen 5/Gen 6 Camaro as well as an old pro-touring car. Can the old muscle cars keep up with the latest offerings from Detroit. The answer is yes, sort of. Since the late model cars are also heavily modified, the performance gap between old and new opens up. Separate classes exist for early and late cars.

Friday: High Speed Thrills

Friday morning, we all head from the host hotel to Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, MI for 8 hours of high speed thrills and paddock camaraderie. You and your car will get seemingly unlimited on-track time. Gingerman is a great learning track with limited elevation changes and plenty of run-off. If you like drag racing, Gingerman, has two long straights and one short straight. You can really open up your engine. Experienced drivers are always on hand to offer guidance from the passenger seat. If you have never participated in a track day, the Motor State Challenge is a perfect place to start. If you prefer, lap times are logged with transponders.  Rain cut the day short, but not until after many sessions of run-time.

Saturday: Technical Fun

On Saturday, Motor State Challenge participants travel to tire heaven as we utilize the Tire Rack’s test track for the autocross segment. Like Gingerman, this course is perfect for first time participants and pros alike. Numerous grass-covered sections may seem easier to navigate that true parking lot courses. Like the day before, bad weather held off long enough for everyone to get 8 runs or more. If you like driving, the Motor State Challenge has plenty.

The skies turned black around 3 pm and the rain started to fall. We all gathered under a large tent for the awards ceremony. RideTech took home five trophies including first and second place in the Manufacturers Late Model class and second place in the Manufacturers Vintage class. While we are proud of our effort, we are even more proud to be part a thriving community. We are a community of hot rodders with cars — old and new — that perform well in every way. Events like the Motor State Challenge bring people together where we can proudly show off our cars, help each other and enjoy seat-time.

With our cars tucked away in the shop, we can look back on the 10th annual Motor State Challenge with a sense of pride. We brought home five trophies. Tom McBride sweeped the Manufacturers Late model class winning three trophies. Bret Voelkel and Chris Smith placed second in Manufacturers Late Model and Manufacturers Vintage classes. Beyond our on track performance, RideTech is proud to have been there for the inaugural event as a sponsor and as participants. We’ve watched the Motor State Challenge grow over the years. It’s one of the best driving events on the calendar. We’ll be back next year and we hope to see you there.

Motor State Challenge Webpage with extensive galleries, click HERE

For a complete Facebook gallery of Motor State Challenge Award Winners, click HERE

For the South Bend SCCA Region, Click HERE

For the Tire Rack, click HERE

Photography by Steve Chryssos and the Motor State Distributing staff.

Team RideTech brought four cars to the Motor State Challenge. In the Manufacturer’s Vintage class, we campaigned the 1970 Track 1 Camaro and the original 48 Hour 1967 Camaro.  …and for the Late Model Manufacturer’s class…. (next photo)
…we brought our Lingenfelter Performance Engineering-powered C5 as well as our MagneTuner-equipped C7 Z06. Driving events are attracting dozens of late model Corvettes and the Motor State Challenge is no exception. C5’s in particular are affordable and easy to upgrade. Click HERE to view RideTech’s complete range of Corvette products.
Mark Stielow brought his latest build to the Motor State Challenge, a weathered 69 Camaro with original sheetmetal, 307 badges and a supercharged LT4 crate engine from Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center.
Conversely, the RideTech Track 1 Camaro has carbon fiber bodywork a naturally aspirated SDPC Raceshop LS7 and is anything but subtle. It’s always fun to drive race cars on the street.
Motor State Distributing displayed their 50th Anniversary Mustang equipped with RideTech coilover suspension, a RideTech TigerCage and a full arsenal of speed equipment. Look for a full installation video in the coming weeks.
A sight to see, more than 100 rumbling hot rods lined up behind a full Police Escort on Thursday afternoon. The officers shut down all side streets so that we could travel as a group through various towns. The parade looped back to the host hotel for some excellent barbecue.
Motor State Challenge Barbecue
With the road tour complete, another line formed — this time with people rather than cars.  Event sponsors picked up the tab for barbecue. The Wahlstrom family contributed a range of excellent desserts. We all ate like kings and then loitered in the hotel parking lot .
Friday morning, we rolled into Gingerman Raceway in South Haven Michigan. At the driver’s meeting, many old faces gathered along with a strong showing of new faces. We discuss run groups, track safety and a warm up session strategy where drivers familiarize themselves with the track layout and test their transponders.
Track Day Safety
Safety first.  The Motor State Challenge is run by the South Bend Region of the SCCA. The crew does an excellent job of keeping us safe as well as managing timing and scoring. All drivers enjoyed multiple 20 minute sessions totaling more than an hour of seat time. 
Camaros at Gingerman Raceway
The race paddock was near capacity with approximately 105 cars on hand. Many drivers bring trailers so that they can push their cars to the limit. How many Camaros (and one Trans Am) can you see in a row?
Elsewhere in the race paddock, late model Corvettes and 5th/6th gen Camaros and Mustangs waited for their time on track. In modified form, C5-C7 Corvettes will outpace the Pro-Touring cars, so classes are divided into Vintage and Late model with respect to Timing and Scoring. Cars are mixed in run groups, however. 
Buckle up… Gingernam Raceway is the perfect “Learning Track”  with minimal elevation changes and just the right amount of speed. Most cars ran under 140 mph. Here’s Ron Schwarz in his one-of-a-kind Mustang and James Shipka in the One Lap Camaro. They set up a classic pony car battle that was reminiscent of the old Trans Am Series.
Corvettes at Gingerman Raceway
Drag Racing happens.  Gingerman has two long straightaways plus a third smaller straight. More cars are showing up with aero equipment these days.  Here’s Randy Johnson from D&Z Customs in his C6 Corvette racing Tom McBride in the RideTech C5 Corvette into a braking zone. 
1967 Camaro at Gingerman Raceway
This was the first Track Day outing for RideTech’s newest team driver, Andy Voelkel. Andy made steady progress throughout the day and was flying in his last session. Not bad for a teenager. The 48 Hour Camaro still retains its original, ultra-reliable Lingenfelter LS engine as well as Baer Brakes, Forgeline Wheels and fat BF Goodrich Rival S Tires.
It is just so cool seeing muscle cars from every generation racing on track together. The grey over red third-gen was sporting a Tuned Port Injected V8. The gold second-gen Camaro, owned by Donny ad Angela Freise from Frame Up Wheelworks is real a sleeper.  Running RideTech’s new Unicradle bolt-on 4-link rear suspension, this F-body is competitive wherever it runs.
Tire Rack SCCA Autocross
Saturday morning, we all rolled into the Tire Rack for a full day of autocross under damp conditions.  The heavier rain held off long enough for everyone to get multiple runs. Despite the damp environment, available grip was strong — not perfect, but strong.
1966 Chevelle Autocross with Coilovers
Look closely at her front wheel of Lynda Jacobs Chevelle. You can see rain trailing off of the bodywork and tires. Regardless, Lynda and everyone else got in at least six laps. Heavy rain closed the competition one hour early at around 3PM.
1965 Chevelle coilovers by RideTech
Heres Aaron Oberle and his ’65 Chevelle called G-Velle. You can see a big chunk of the course layout in the background. With grass and some cones, the Tire Rack Test Track feels more like a mini-road course.
Motor State Challenge Trophies
Trophies were handed out for Class wins as well as fastest road course and autocross times in various classes. Additional trophies were handed out for Peoples Choice, Spirit of the Event, Long Distance and the Todd Gartshore Memorial Award. In addition to trophies, dozens of Manufacturer gift certificates were given out to participants. For a complete list of trophy winners, click HERE.
Motor State Challenge Manufacturers Class Trophies
Team RideTech brought home Five Trophies. Tom McBride swept the Manufacturer’s Late Model class. Bret Voelkel placed second in the Manufacturer’s Late Model class and Chris Smith placed second in the Manufacturer’s Vintage class. Jason “Little Smitty” Smith rode shotgun in the Track 1 Camaro all weekend.
Best trophy of all… Congratulations to Aaron Oberle for winning the Peoples Choice Award.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hazardous Material Warning

 This product can expose you to chemicals including Nickel Acetate, Chromium, Lead, Lead Compounds, Nickel (Metallic), Nickel Compounds, Diisonyl Phthalate (DINP) and Toluene which are known to the State of California to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information, visit www.P65warnings.ca.gov.