Much like 2014, when the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show ended for 2015, the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) asked all 90 competitors to participate in the SEMA cruise. The cruise began with the 2015 SEMA Show’s end at 4:00 p.m. on Friday November 6th, 2015. The SEMA Cruise festivities included awards, giveaways, entertainment and seating for the crowd. The parade culminates in SEMA’s recently created event, SEMA Ignited. The SEMA cruise, and SEMA Ignited, has become a great way to celebrate a fantastic week of innovation and invention.
After completing the 2015 SEMA Cruise, Spectre Performance sponsored driver and brand ambassador, Brandy Phillips headed back to the PCH Rods trailer at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with her husband Rob. While Brandy and Rob could have enjoyed a magnificent night out on the town, the motivation for a good night’s rest before the 2015 OUSCI outweighed any interest they might have had in the glitz & glamour of Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas Motor Speedway opened its gates at 6:30 am Saturday November 7th, 2015 to OUSCI competitors and the PCH Rods crew had every intention of being there when it opened.
Following a complete walkthrough of the PCH Rods build 1972 Chevy C10 R race truck, which included safety & mechanical checks, as well as filling up the fuel tank, Brandy Phillips and fellow competitor Jane Thurmond spent over ½ an hour walking the Autocross course. During this time the two ladies drew maps, took photos, and discussed driving tactics for each turn. The OUSCI on-track events for Saturday November 7th, 2015 were randomly split into two groups. Group A headed to the Autocross event first, while group B would try their luck at the Speed Stop challenge. Brandy Phillips was selected for group A.
The OUSCI sets up the Autocross portion of the event as a side-by-side mirrored race course. Even though two competitors are on the course at the same time, their real adversary is the clock. This forces racers to focus on blocking out the other driver, and pay attention solely on their own driving. Brandy’s time spent mapping the course paid off as she was one of only a few drivers who didn’t get lost on their first run on the Autocross course. With each run Brandy pushed the truck harder and set her fastest time near the end of her 8 run stint.
Almost immediately following the autocross portion of the event Brandy, and husband Rob, prepped the 1972 Chevrolet C10 R race truck for the OUSCI design challenge. Out of the possible 25 points that can be earned in this portion of the event, 15 of those points are based on a checklist of necessities required for operating on the street. Things like working headlights, taillights, turn signals, windshield wipers, a horn and a relatively comfortable interior are easy. But in 2014 the PCH Rods Chevy C10R had been penalized for the lack of a stereo. Rob Phillips could have simply stuffed a mono AM radio into the dash, but no. Rob went all out with the stereo system and the loud thumping base even managed to attract a crowd during judging. Overall the PCH Rods Chevy C10 R scored 20.333 points between the three judges.
The OUSCI speed stop was up next for Brandy and the PCH Rods 1972 C10R. This is also Brandy’s most dreaded portion of the event and with an all-new course set up on a short banked oval track; she had even more reason to worry. Pickup trucks are notorious for locking up the rear brakes during a sudden stop due a lack of weight in the bed. The PCH Rods C10R is pretty well balanced, but still struggles to keep the rear tires from becoming locked in a hard stop. Rob Phillips installed a switch that helps distribute braking force between the front and rear. No matter how much Brandy adjusted this setting she didn’t have any luck. Finally before her last shot at the Speed Stop challenge Rob looked under the hood of the 1972 C10 R and realized he installed the switch backwards. With that revelation Brandy cranked the knob 25 clicks in the opposite direction and successfully stopped the truck in the stop box without locking up the rear brakes.
The next day, Sunday November 9th, 2015, is probably the most exciting portion of the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational event. Sunday’s competition consisted of the Hot Lap Challenge on the road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Fortunately for Brandy, the course layout was identical to 2014 giving her an advantage over OUSCI first timers. The hot lap challenge was broken into two skill levels, advanced and intermediate, which were further split into two groups to keep the number of people on the track at once lower. The OUSCI Hot Lap Challenge isn’t typical door to door racing, though some of the advanced drivers treated it that way. The Hot Lap Challenge is actually a race against the clock.
As with each of her prior on-track portions of the 2015 OUSCI event, Brandy was able to push both her and the 1972 Chevy C10 R pickup truck harder with each lap. One of her fastest laps was near the end of the day during her fourth session on the track. Brandy knew portions of the track like the back of her hand. So much so that she managed to catch lighter and more powerful cars before they once again powered away from her in the straight sections. Rob Phillips is determined to reduce the weight, and increase the horsepower, of the PCH Rods Chevy C10R during Brandy’s off-season.
Brandy Phillips went into the 2015 OUSCI event with two goals in mind. First she wanted to finish mid-pack and was nearly successful. In the end she finished 59th overall out of 90 competitors. She was a few spots shy of her goal, but it was a slight improvement over her 68th place out of 100 finish in 2014. Credit must be given to Brandy and builder Rob, though, as the truck was not only one of the heaviest vehicles in the event but it has one of the lowest horsepower ratings. Brandy’s other goal for the 2015 OUSCI was to improve her times, as well as scores, over 2014. Brandy managed to improve in every portion of the event giving her a sense of satisfaction.
While everyone would like to go out and win, not everyone can or ever will. When asked why she continues to enter these events where she is at a disadvantage she responded, “I go out to meet new people and have fun. I have known most of these competitors for years and it’s an awesome feeling to be a part of this group. She continued, “Another reason I continue to enter these events is to become a better driver and racer. Finally, I race to represent my sponsors. I have learned that over time you do not have to win in order to represent your sponsors well. Making yourself available to talk to spectators, interacting with kids, and answering questions is a rewarding feeling.”
Brandy Phillips has one more event for 2015. Over the course of the 2015 Goodguys season, Brandy has earned enough points to earn a spot in the Goodguys Duel in the Desert Shootout taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona on November 20th, 2015. “There’s going to be some tough competition at the shootout,” said Brandy. “Winning the shootout is not our goal for Scottsdale. Spectre Performance has asked me to drive on its behalf in 2015, and it’s quite the honor to be asked to represent a sponsor.”
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