The Motor State Challenge is ostensibly about a regional parts distributor stepping up to play on the larger Pro Touring stage. By holding a three-day event comprising an autocross, a 40-mile cruise, a shop tour, and a road course excursion at nearby Gingerman Raceway, Motor State Distributing is putting itself in the national spotlight in a way that surprisingly few “serious” companies have the guts for.

Located in the sleepy hollow of Watervliet, Michigan, Motor State Distributing is ironically known more as a peddler of drag racing, circle track, off-road, and street rod parts. But this past June 17 - 19, Motor State Distributing also clearly demonstrated a desire to be a player in the Pro Touring segment—for the third year running now. If you want to be a so-called “player” in this kind of event, you’ve got to have the right location, and you’ve got to have the power to pull in the best g-Machines. For the Motor State Challenge (MSC), the principal “location” draw was the beautiful, quick, and relatively safe venue of Gingerman Raceway, a picturesque 2.14-mile rolling adventure with plenty of elevation change and lots of safe runoff. Notwithstanding, things got kicked off at a temporary autocross course laid out in a parking lot of Lake Michigan College in nearby Benton Harbor. Sandwiched in between those two venues was a 40-mile cruise through Michigan wine country, and a shop tour of Motor State’s headquarters, where the affable staff made its best effort at permanently stamping the neural imprint of shelves heaped high with hordes of horsepower goodies.

As if a Pro Solo-style lapping session at Gingerman Raceway wasn’t enough to lure out the best, the MSC has earned status as a qualifier for the “superbowl” of Pro Touring: the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) in Las Vegas. Win the MSC, and you are guaranteed entry into the Vegas soiree. Besides being an OUSCI qualifier, MSC also has the added convenience of being within a 500-mile radius of 70 percent of North America’s best Pro Touring rides.

Of all the OUSCI qualifying events, the MSC has to be one of our favorites, and from the looks of the quantity and quality of the turnout (78 in total), you guys agree. We counted no fewer than seven ex-PHR cover cars in attendance at Motor State, and that’s not including the many others that have graced the inside of PHR in special features, events, and Hometown Hot Rodding. Sure, we shoot many of the cars we feature in beautiful surroundings with liquid light, or even in studios, but make no mistake about it, these cars get driven, and at the MSC the claws were out and the fur was flying! It was an all-star cast, and they proved they were no candy-ass show cars. They are the real deal—billet 20-inch wheels and all.

Motor State Challenge Results
June 17 - 19, 2011

Road Course - Competitor Class
Finish: Name: Car: Best lap:
1. Danny Popp ’06 Corvette Z06 1.40.57
2. Todd Rumpke ’06 Corvette 1.44.57
3. Brian Finch ’71 Camaro 1.45.84
4. Vincent Allegretta ’69 Camaro 1.46.61
5. Randy Bell ’67 Camaro 1.47.32
6. Scott Carey ’10 Camaro 1.48.97
7. Brian Vinson ’05 Mustang GT 1.49.03
8. Billy Utley ’72 Nova 1.50.35
9. Brent Jarvis ’66 Chevelle 1.51.01
10. Matt Adams ’81 Camaro 1.51.39
11. Ron Schwartz ’66 Mustang 1.52.32
12. Matthew Pettus ’68 Corvette 1.52.82
13. Matt Altamore ’69 Camaro 1.53.26
14. Chris Jacobs ’66 Chevelle 1.53.48
15. Randy Johnson ’70 Camaro 1.54.63
16. Mark Turner ’66 Corvette 1.54.85


Autocross - Competitor Class
Finish: Name: Car: Best lap:
1. Danny Popp ’06 Corvette Z06 25.260
2. Brian Finch ’71 Camaro 25.617
3. Todd Rumpke ’06 Corvette 25.984
4. Vincent Allegretta ’69 Camaro 26.539
5. Chris Jacobs ’66 Chevelle 26.608
6. Billy Utley ’72 Nova 26.754
7. Matthew Pettus ’68 Corvette 26.788
8. Ron Schwartz ’66 Mustang 26.792
9. Eric Anderson ’00 MR2 Spyder 26.809
10. Todd Green ’89 Corvette 27.144
11. Randy Bell ’67 Camaro 27.482
12. Kenneth Edwards ’66 Mustang 27.561
13. Robert Bertelsen ’72 Firebird 27.626
14. Karl Dunn ’71 Trans Am 27.672
15. Randy Johnson ’70 Camaro 27.721
16. Tom Farrington ’66 Chevelle 27.893

With the right parts, an older muscle car can make a respectable showing—but it’s a difficult road. Todd Rumpke took the easier route: buy a ’06 Z06, hand it over to Danny Popp, have him load it up with bolt-ons, then start handing out the beat-downs. The 2010 Third-Place One Lap of America finisher handily crushed all comers at the MSC road course (by an embarrassing 4-second margin), and moves on to the OUSCI in Las Vegas. So what’s your opinion on the matter: Is it fair for late-model sports cars like Rumpke’s to dice it up with 45-year-old GTOs? Next year are we going to see Porsche GT3s slaughtering Chevy IIs? Or do muscle car guys just need a cryin’ towel?

Editor’s Pick

Even well into the new millennia, the ’81-88 Olds Cutlass was one of the most stolen cars in America, making the Top 10 list in most states through the 1990s and beyond. Makes perfect sense then, that Scott Romszewicz of Stevensville, Michigan, was driving his ’87 Olds Cutlass all weekend long like he stole it. Scott ran a best lap of 2.01.16 on the Gingerman road course in a car of his own creation (under the Romszewicz Motorsports banner). A mostly stock 325hp LS1 mates to a 4L60E overdrive; DSE rear suspension, Baer brakes and Nitto NT05 rubber take credit for outstanding maneuverability. Olds may be a dead player now, but back in the day these were comfortable, well-equipped luxury cocoons that coddled their occupants with good old-fashioned American opulence. We salute Scott for building such an offbeat ride, and for that we choose his Cutlass as our favorite car at the Motor State Challenge!