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Car Craft's Real Street Eliminator VIII

Sponsored by Fram Filtration

By , Photography by

It's the annual Car Craft street car test held in conjunction with the Car Craft Summer Nationals that we covered last month. Within our three-day, gasoline-fed funfest, we also stage Real Street Eliminator, brought to you by Fram, that is Car Craft's longest-running annual test of muscle-car mettle. But enough hype; with so many competitors, let's get right to it.

This year, we had a total of 22 cars compete with the largest participation in the Late Model class. We welcomed several returning competitors trying again to be top dog in their classes, along with several newcomers who did exceptionally well. As it has been for the last few years, our competition focuses on three events: the Lucas Oil chassis dyno, the QA1 autocross, and the Car Craft Launch Box with overall sponsorship by Fram. We assign points for the top three finishers in each category, and we use the horsepower from the chassis dyno as the tiebreaker. In the past, horsepower has come into play several times to break a tie, and since we don't discourage power-adders, it's always a good show on the dyno.

But before we get this show underway, we should acknowledge previous competitor Jesse Riggle. We often take for granted that everyone always arrives unscathed, but barely a few dozen miles from St. Paul, Jessie was involved in a freak trailer accident that flipped his '99 Firebird, truck, and trailer. All three were badly damaged and, worse yet, the trailer was borrowed. Jesse wasn't hurt, but the financial setback is crushing. If this makes you think about towing safety, then perhaps this accident was not a total negative. Jesse says he will return, and we believe him.


Lucas Oil Dyno Challenge

Real Street Eliminator places special emphasis on the dyno challenge, and it's clear that the competitors do, too. Plus, it's a bit of an ego thing to show up with a combination that can lay down a strong number. There were a couple of returning racers who we knew would be players, and there were a couple of new cars that looked promising. When Jim Schmittinger arrived (at the last minute) with this turbo Buick, we knew we were in for a treat. He's been threatening to show up for the last couple of years, but something always seems to fail on his Buicks. While his Kenny Duttweiler–built turbo V6 just missed the magic 1,000hp mark at 959, Jim enlightened us afterward that this big number was with a wounded turbo. As always, he promises next year to return with even more power. Fortunately for the rest of the field, this was Jim's only strong performance, as he finished well back in the other two events.

Nathan Shaw also returned with a vengeance, upping last year's strong 655hp run with a very impressive 923 number to take the top spot in the Muscle Car class, followed closely by Jeff Schwartz's twin-turbo Pontiac Trans Am. Perennial performer Justin Nall also returned with his '66 Chevelle to make 654 and long-distance runner Troy Borgen also made noise with more than 600 hp, finishing Fourth. Imagine making more than 600 hp and not finishing in the points for the chassis dyno—that shows how competitive RSE has become.

Conversely, with only three cars in the Corvette/Viper class, all you had to do was show up to get points. Last year's Late Model class competitor Peter Barton returned with a '69 Corvette and lobbied successfully to intelligently switch to the Corvette class with his older machine. He was up against heady competition from Jeff Smith (no relation to this magazine's tech editor), who cranked out a solid 839 rwhp to take the top spot followed by Joel Kangas' supercharged Viper cranking out only 394.

Lucas Oil Dyno Challenge Results

Muscle Car Class

Position/Owner Vehicle HP Points
1st Nathan Shaw '71 Nova 923 30
2nd Jeff Schwartz '81 Trans Am 808 20
3rd Justin Nall '66 Chevelle 654 10
4th Troy Borgen '69 Camaro 606 -
5th Eric Hokenson '63 Impala 547 -
6th Damion Campbell '63 Pontiac LeMans 393 -
7th Ryan Buck '63 Chevy II 297 -

Late Model Class

Position/Owner Vehicle HP Points
1st Jim Schmittinger '87 Buick GNX 959 30
2nd Brandon Brambilla '11 Camaro 721 20
3rd Greg Hopper '06 GTO 489 10
4th Dan Forsman '94 Camaro Z28 450 -
5th John Wegner '13 Camaro ZL1 426 -
6th Eric Sward '98 Trans-Am 414 -
7th Dan Howe '84 Monte Carlo SS 388 -
8th Ron Popesh '11 Mustang 374 -
9th Bill Irwin '00 Camaro 338 -
10th Michael Callahan '99 Crown Victoria 276 -
11th Brett Lindert '97 Mustang GT 253 -
12th Justin Hirschuber '94 Mustang GT 199 -

Corvette Class

Position/Owner Vehicle HP Points
1st Jeff Smith '99 Corvette 839 30
2nd Joel Kangas '01 Viper 394 20
3rd Peter Barton '69 Corvette 237 10

QA1 Autocross

Every year, this is where the serious competition starts. The rules allow each RSE competitor to make as many passes as necessary to generate his best time. This usually ends up in a shootout between the top three cars in each class on Saturday afternoon because the better drivers generally take command. This year's course was again laid out by our friends from the Land O'Lakes SCCA club and was substantially longer than last year's. Heading into this event, we took only passing notice of Ryan Buck's rustic Chevy II, but it didn't take long for him to show us he was serious. He'd wrecked his previous Chevy II and took his time rebuilding this one with a TCI front and rear suspension and then revealed his driving skills by eventually pulling off an impressive 30.12 time that was only surpassed by Dan Howe's 29.974-second Monte Carlo lap time in the Late Model class and Jeff Smith's Corvette with a 29.589—which is why we split the Vettes and Vipers out of the Late Model class. There were several other notable autocross runs, including Damion Campbell's cool '63 LeMans pavement-cutter running a 30.735. John Wegner in his new ZL1 '13 Camaro was in the hunt with a 30.033, but Daniel Forsman's '94 Camaro sliced off an even quicker 30.166. The tightest race was for Second Place in Muscle Car when Damion Campbell's LeMans bested Jeff Schwartz's Trans Am by a scant 0.035-second.

We noticed something interesting with Dan Howe's numerous runs, including his sub-30-second pass. Despite the fact that he was wheeling a rather large Monte Carlo, his passes were exceptionally smooth, and he carried far more speed through the middle sections of the course than nearly every other car that ran that weekend. It you watched closely, you could learn a lot from his very impressive runs. And he's only been racing for a little more than a year.

QA1 Autocross Results

Muscle Car Class

Position/Owner Vehicle Time Points
1st Ryan Buck '63 Chevy II 30.12 30
2nd Damion Campbell '63 Pontiac LeMans 30.735 20
3rd Jeff Schwartz '81 Trans Am 30.77 10
4th Nathan Shaw '71 Nova 31.19 -
5th Justin Nall '66 Chevelle 31.695 -
6th Troy Borgen '69 Camaro 32.215 -
7th Eric Hokenson '63 Impala 37.359 -

Late Model Class

Position/Owner Vehicle Time Points
1st Dan Howe '84 Monte Carlo 29.974 30
2nd John Wegner '13 ZL1 Camaro 30.033 20
3rd Daniel Forsman '94 Camaro Z28 30.166 10
4th Brett Lindert '97 Mustang GT 31.071 -
5th Justin Hirschuber '94 Mustang GT 31.354 -
6th Bill Irwin '00 Camaro 31.945 -
7th Brandon Brambilla '11 Camaro 32.215 -
8th Ron Popesh '11 Mustang 33.020 -
9th Greg Hopper '06 Pontiac GTO 33.293 -
10th Eric Sward '98 Pontiac Trans Am 33.526 -
11th Michael Callahan '99 Crown Victoria 35.022 -
12th Jim Schmittinger '87 Buick GNX 36.656 -

Corvette/Viper Class

Position/Owner Vehicle Time Points
1st Jeff Smith '99 Corvette 29.589 30
2nd Joel Kangas '01 Viper 31.453 20
3rd Peter Barton '69 Corvette 37.370 10


Car Craft Launch Box

The Launch Box is a 150-foot go-whoa contest. It looks simple, but it is not. In fact, almost every year an otherwise competitive car gets eaten alive on the Launch Box. This year was no exception, especially as the competition becomes tighter. Last year, several cars broke into the 2.9-second bracket with the best RSE time this year executed by Dan Howe, who won the Late Model Launch Box effort last year, as well. He improved his time from last year's 2.99 to this year's 2.91 seconds—an outstanding effort. This was nearly equaled by Ryan Buck, who matched his top spot autocross effort by taking First Place in Launch Box with a 2.93. Jeff Schwartz was barely 0.07 second behind with his Trans Am, and Jeff flogged the T-A multiple tries in an attempt to beat Buck's time without success. Nathan Shaw was again close with a 3.14-second time for a Muscle Car class, which tied him with Justin Nall's Chevelle. The First-to-Third spread in Muscle Car was barely 0.21 second.

Muscle Car Class

Position/Owner Vehicle Time Points
1st Ryan Buck '63 Chevy II 2.93 30
2nd Jeff Schwartz '81 Pontiac Trans Am 3.00 20
3rd Damion Campbell '63 Pontiac LeMans 3.13 10
4th Nathan Shaw '71 Nova 3.14 -
5th Justin Nall '66 Chevelle 3.14 -
6th Eric Hokenson '63 Impala 3.49 -
7th Troy Borgen '69 Camaro 3.51 -

Late Model Class

Position/Owner Vehicle Time Points
1st Dan Howe '84 Monte Carlo 2.91 30
2nd Justin Hirschuber '94 Mustang GT 3.03 20
3rd Brett Lindert '97 Mustang GT 3.06 10
4th Daniel Forsman '94 Camaro Z28 3.11 -
5th Bill Irwin '00 Camaro 3.12 -
6th John Wegner '13 ZL1 Camaro 3.19 -
7th Brandon Brambilla '11 Camaro 3.21 -
8th Eric Sward '89 Pontiac Trans Am 3.23 -
9th Jim Schmittinger '87 Buick GNX 3.24 -
10th Ron Popesh '11 Mustang 3.27
11th Michael Callahan '99 Crown Victoria 3.27 -
12th Greg Hopper '06 GTO 3.36 -

Corvette Class

Position/Owner Vehicle Time Points
1st Joel Kangas '01 Viper 3.23 30
2nd Jeff Smith '99 Corvette 3.37 20
3rd Peter Barton '69 Corvette 3.38 10

The Winners

Again this year, Real Street was a real fight right to the end. In Muscle Car, Jeff Schwartz delivered strong 808 hp, but it was only worth a Second Place against Nathan Shaw's amazing 923 hp. But, when Damion Campbell's '63 LeMans bested Schwartz in the autocross, this gave Ryan Buck the opening he needed to win the overall title, despite earning zero points on the dyno. His Nova only made 297 rwhp, but that was enough to win both the Launch Box and the QA1 autocross. So in this case, Nathan Shaw and Damion Campbell combined to act as spoilers. Had Schwartz earned a second spot in the QA1 autocross, he would have tied Buck and took the title based on his much stronger horsepower.

The Late Model winner, Dan Howe, duplicated Buck's feat, winning both the QA1 autocross and Launch Box, while finishing out of the points on the dyno. But given the broader performance spread among Howe's competition, he was able to handily beat Second Place Jim Schmittinger by a solid 20 points. So despite the emphasis we place on horsepower, a well-balanced, good-handling car wheeled by a competent driver can win a Real Street Eliminator class title.

In the Corvette/Viper class, it looked like Smith had the field covered when he took wins in both the dyno and the autocross venues, but an interesting twist occurred when Peter Barton's '69 Corvette almost stole Second Place in Launch Box from Smith with a time only 0.01 second behind. Had that occurred, Kangas and Smith would have tied for the overall win, although Smith would have still took the trophy because of his higher horsepower number.

While we don't officially award a King of the Hill prize, bragging rights can go to Smith's Corvette but only by virtue of his horsepower, since Howe tied Smith in points but gave up that title because of Smith's superior horsepower tiebreaker.

Muscle Car

Position/Owner Vehicle HP Autocross Launch Box Total
1st Ryan Buck '63 Chevy II 297 30.120 (30) 2.93 (30) 60
2nd Jeff Schwartz '81 T/A 808 (20) 30.770 (10) 3.00 (20) 50
3rd Nathan Shaw '71 Nova 923 (30) 31.190 3.14 30
4th Damion Campbell '63 LeMans 393 30.735 (20) 3.13 (10) 30
5th Justin Nall '66 Chevelle 654 (10) 31.695 3.14 10
6th Troy Borgen '69 Camaro 606 32.215 3.51 -
7th Eric Hokenson '63 Impala 547 37.359 3.49 -

Numbers in parenthesis are points awarded for the top three finishes. No points are awarded past Third Place. In case of a tie, the position goes to the car with the highest horsepower.

Late Model

Position/Owner Vehicle HP Autocross Launch Box Total
1st Dan Howe '84 Monte Carlo 388 29.974 (30) 2.91 (30) 60
2nd Jim Schmittinger '87 Buick GNX 959 (30) 36.656 3.24 30
3rd Brandon Bambilla '11 Camaro 721 (20) 32.215 3.21 20
4th John Wegner '13 ZL1 Camaro 426 30.033 (20) 3.19 20
5th Justin Hirschuber '94 Mustang GT 199 31.354 3.03 (20) 20
6th Greg Hopper '06 GTO 489 (10) 33.293 3.36 10
7th Daniel Forsman '94 Camaro Z28 450 30.166 (10) 3.11 10
8th Brett Lindert '97 Mustang 253 31.071 3.06 (10) 10
9th Bill Irwin '00 Camaro SS 338 31.945 3.12 -
10th Eric Sward '98 Trans Am 414 33.526 3.23 -
11th Ron Popesh '11 Mustang 374 33.020 3.27 -
12th Michael Callahan '99 Crown Victoria 276 32.215 3.21 -

Corvette/Viper

Position/Owner Vehicle HP Autocross Launch Box Total
1st Jeff Smith ‘99 Corvette 839 (30) 29.589 (30) 3.37 (20) 80
2nd Joel Kangas '01 Viper 394 (20) 31.453 (20) 3.23 (30) 70
3rd Peter Barton '69 Corvette 236 (10) 37.37 (10) 3.38 (10) 30


With a Little Help from Our Friends

As for the last few years, we want to acknowledge the help of the new owner of the chassis dyno, Jay Miller of HP Mobile Chassis Dyno in Seymour, Indiana. Previous owner Andy Wicks still owns his shop (Dynotuneusa.com) in South Dakota and was on hand to help for the weekend. Of course, we'd like to thank the Land O'Lakes SCCA car club for its superb running of the QA1 autocross event. Regional Director Kathy Gillen was again helping with scoring along with a list of volunteers too numerous to mention. Thank you to everyone who endured those long hours chasing cones in the sun. No less importantly are our pals from the San Diego area who fly out every year to man the Launch Box. Doug Eisberg, Eric Rosenthal, and Eric Schmiege were with us all three days doing timing and scoring. Additional credit goes to Rosenthal who designed a custom computer program that made RSE scoring much easier. It's a better event with you guys there!

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16 comments
Seth Baker
Seth Baker

I saw this on hrm. It is awesome.

Vikingo Erik
Vikingo Erik

Yo tengo un modelo de ese para restaurar

Shawn Tarleton
Shawn Tarleton

Lower center of gravity, springs, shocks, tires and sway bars.

Dan Howe
Dan Howe

Funny thing is I just finished putting this article onto a poster frame for the shop. This is a great shot of your Nova Ryan Buck.

Ryan Buck
Ryan Buck

Nice shot of that power house Nathan Shaw.

TCI Engineering
TCI Engineering

That was a different car. He had one previous to this car that was damaged in an accident.

Da Manny
Da Manny

Hey guys... If u want to learn how to work on cars for FREE..then search on Youtube for : KLOWNY1969 and subscribe!

Brandon Quinn
Brandon Quinn

Too bad he was parting this car out on craiglist.

Lee Smith
Lee Smith

pro touring gives som cars a whole different flavor. had dreams of pro touring my Malibu SW suspension... but i never ce to fruition

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