One downside to magazine publishing is that it takes so long to roll out our annual Real Street Eliminator competition story. A couple of years ago, we decided to merge the Car Craft Summer Nationals in St. Paul with the longest-running street car competition in the land of muscle cars. Way back in the May '86 issue, Car Craft created a muscle car shootout called Real Street Eliminator (RSE) intended to test street cars in several varied venues to determine the best overall performance car. The competition has evolved through the years, with the current format trimmed to three simple competitions. Simply stated, we test rear-wheel horsepower for sheer power and then use the autocross to test driver skill and vehicle prowess, followed by a go-whoa contest we call the Launch Box. The Launch Box course may only be 150 feet long, but it's a lot tougher than it looks. Ask the drivers who didn't do well.
For the last few years, we've opened the competition to anyone with the guts to compete. Frankly, we were a little surprised to see more late-model entries than muscle cars. Where are all the muscle car guys? The newer cars have a slight advantage in the autocross and Launch Box competitions, so we separated the cars into two classes, expecting a strong showing with a cap of 10 cars per class. Our most enthusiastic competitor, Paul Spencer from Silver City, New Mexico, was literally the first in line when we opened the entry door, but he had to bow out when he was notified that his naturalization ceremony to become a U.S. citizen would be held on the same weekend. Paul promises he will be at RSE 2011 with his Mustang. Shannon Grewe's '10 Dodge Challenger also planned to compete, but the car wasn't finished in time and he also promises to attend next year. Since we didn't have a full field, we allowed several of last year's competitors to return for a second shot, including Nick Abernathy, John Boos, and Richard Adams-all in Corvettes. Jeff Schwartz and Randy Johnson also returned, but both with different rides, which is what we like to see.
Just like last year, the rules are mainly heads-up, run whatcha brung with two classes-one for muscle cars and one for late-model machines 1984 and later. Again, there was no tire rule, so you could run as sticky a tire as you wanted, and the dyno was no holds barred, so power-adders were as numerous as Pamela Anderson admirers. We witnessed some serious horsepower numbers, but as it turned out, that was no guarantee of an overall podium finish. The competitors who consistently finished well ended up on top.
It's also worth mentioning that the Muscle Car class winners in the last couple of years of Real Street have gone on to distinguish themselves in other Pro Touring competitions. Randy Johnson brought a new '70 Camaro to RSE 2010, selling his 2008-winning '66 Chevelle to Chris Jacobs, who placed Fourth at Optima's Ultimate Street Car Faceoff at Road America in Wisconsin. Jeff Schwartz, driving last year's RSE Muscle Car class-winning '65 Tempest, took Third overall at the same Optima event, hustling against nearly 50 of the hottest muscle cars in the country. So lest you think RSE is perhaps not worthy of your bad-to-the-bone street car, these results indicate otherwise. Also, the incredible RSE fame and fortune (OK, maybe not the fortune part as much) should be enough to motivate you to show up with your lug nuts torqued and ready to race. But enough hype. Let's get to this year's event and see who could be the next big dog on the muscle car porch.