As the sun crested the horizon in the desert outside Pahrump, Nevada, a rose-hued sunrise lit up the heavy candy red metalflake on Brent Jarvis' '65 Corvette causing everyone nearby to stop and take in the dazzle. We'd just arrived at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch where the air was already thick with the cackle of SEMA show cars and fortunate invitees warming up their engines, double-checking every system and component, and just generally preparing for what would be the most intense challenge most had ever participated in. Welcome to the 2010 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational.

In the year leading up to the OUSCI, would-be competitors compete in a loose series of qualifying events around the country-such as the Holley LS Fest we covered in the February issue, and the Midwest Muscle Car Challenge in the November issue. Essentially, there are two paths into the OUSCI at the end of the year after the SEMA show-you can earn your way in at one of the qualifying events, or you can charm your way in. Hey, it's an invitational-so if they like your car or your style, you can still get invited! If you're invited though, just make sure your junk is up to snuff, or risk being embarrassed. As for the street worthiness of the cars-that's mostly a function of the DOT tire compound-200 treadwear or higher. Beyond that, cars run the gamut from totally docile, to right at the edge of street credibility. In the end though, your equipment better perform, because it's hot in the Nevada desert, and there are no free flatbeds back to civilization!

In covering OUSCI, we decided to focus on the aspect of the competition that gets us excited the most: the cars. These cars represent the bleeding edge of what's being built-and legitimately street driven-in the Pro Touring hobby. We selected 10 of our favorites to show you what's being brought to the table at a high-profile competition like the OUSCI. We didn't just nab the top finishers; we pulled cars that pushed our hot buttons. Stuff we'd love to build. You'll have to forgive the dusty wheels though, all of these cars actively engaged in competition when we grabbed 'em for a few quick photos. Who knows, maybe your car will be invited to attend someday-and you'll want to know what you'll be up against.

Ultimate Street Car Challenge Results - Overall
1st - Mark Stielow, '69 Camaro
2nd - Kyle Tucker, '70 Camaro

Raybestos Performance Design Competition
1st - Jim & Mike Ring, '66 Mustang
2nd - Brent Jarvis, '65 Corvette

BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge
1st - Steve Ruiz, '04 Z06 Corvette
2nd - Mark Stielow, '69 Camaro

Ridetech Street Challenge Autocross Competition
1st - Mark Stielow, '69 Camaro
2nd - Brian Nutter, '02 Corvette

Baer Brakes Speed-Stop Challenge
1st - Mark Stielow, '69 Camaro
2nd - Paul Arvid "Polly" Blytt, '86 Pontiac Trans Am