Don't Mess With The Best
Some legends can never replicate the feats of greatness that cemented their legendary status in the first place. As his machines have proven time and time again, that certainly doesn't apply to Mark Stielow. While red Pro Touring '69 Camaros with blown LS-series small-blocks are a dime a dozen, none of them perform like Red Devil. That's because not many people have the engineering skills and driving talent necessary to dial in a chassis like Mark. During his day job at GM, Mark serves as the head of the company's High Performance Vehicle Operations. His duties involve working the bugs out of some of the hottest cars the General has ever rolled out, such as the V-Series Cadillacs. He assesses every component in a car, from tuning shock valving, to EFI calibrations, to the brake systems and drivelines, and makes them even better before GM releases the cars to the public. His job has taken him all over the world, and he's logged more than 400 laps on Germany's famed Nürburgring Nordschleife road course.
Considering his background, it makes perfect sense that his own personal project car stomped the competition at the 2010 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational. The event pits the nicest Pro Touring machines in the country against each other on the road course, autocross, and in a brake challenge, and at the end of the day Mark's Red Devil was crowned champ. "Based on the caliber of cars that competed last year, I knew I had my work cut out for me," Mark says. "I tested the car on the track all summer long to get the engine tune and chassis setup dialed in, and the hard work paid off. The ABS system faulted out on the road course at the Optima event because it picked up interference, so I had to fix it. Other than that, I didn't have to lay a wrench on it the whole time. It was a lot of fun. I'm going to work on the ABS system some more and add more power for next year's event, and see who shows up." -Stephen Kim