“Charlotte, NC USCA was a blast and we didn’t even have any moonshine!”
The goal for Mike Maier Inc. in going to Ohio, Charlotte and Road America is to get in touch with our East Coast customer base as well as to test our products on some of the greatest tracks in the country. We are proud to report that Ol Blue made it through Ohio and Charlotte without any major issues.
In fact, we had a strong showing at the Charlotte USCA event with Brian Hobaugh and Mike Maier finishing on the podium in all performance events.
To get out to the east side of the states, Falken Tires took the cars to Ohio first. JRi Shocks had asked us to represent them in the Sponsor Shootout. This gave us the chance to drive for a great company which was a humbling opportunity. Needless to say, driving hard to thank the sponsors was the goal. We got to the Goodguys show and all the top guys were there. Unfortunately, it turned into a tough weekend. Brian and Mike are both used to being at the top of the heap but this wasn’t one of those times. We gave it our best but the win wasn’t in the cards for this show. Out of the 80+ competitors, we were in the top ten. After a disappointing finish we sat back after the event and discussed what we did well and what we didn’t do well. This let us game plan how we were going to attack the next event to make sure we were at the top of our game.
The time had come to get back on the plane. The Charlotte event was totally different from Goodguys. USCA events have a road course, road rally, start stop and autocross, along with a design and review board. We arrived Friday to meet up with the Falken rig, pulled everything out and teched the car. There were lots of smiles and handshaking but even this couldn’t hide the anticipation of competition. People were here for fun, along with making a statement.
We started off Saturday with the autocross event. Out of the gate, Ol Blue was fast. Brian Hobaugh’s Mike Maier Inc. Camaro was hot too. Brian came across the line holding the top position and a broken lower ball joint. This gave Mike the opportunity to take the lead by a tenth of a second.
That session was over and we were on our way to the speed stop on the drag strip. The surface was the craziest we had ever driven, slicker than what we’re accustomed to with patches that hooked up. We were struggling to get this dialed in but Brian was on a tear. Quick out of the gate, we finally got to third position. The distance between the top four competitors was about two-tenths of a second. While we were at the start stop, Kyle Tucker laid down a couple of ripping times, taking the lead by five-tenths. This put Mike in second and Brian in third. We took a break from the start stop for the design and engineering review. This basically judges the quality of the build. When you show up to an event like this, we are happy to be in the top ten – the cars here are remarkable. We ended up in the top five of GTV.
The final day had come. Testing ourselves and the parts we make on one of the most iconic courses in the U.S. Big speeds and lots of walls catch your attention real fast. We started off around third quickest, ended up making some changes and moved past our teammate Brian into second behind Kyle. Moments later, Brian’s ball joint Gremlin bit again. Sensing a problem, Brian slowed his car just before it broke a second time. This was how the day finished up on the road course with Kyle taking first, Mike at second and Brian in third.
Some of the most exciting parts of this course were turns one and two of the oval. You enter the oval in second gear, pound third, open the wheel up and let the car walk up to the safety barrier. Keeping the foot flat to the floor, you relax your right leg for a split second, pull fourth gear and hold down the throttle. Towards the end of turn three, you let the car drop down the banking slowly. While this is happening, the acceleration and G-forces are pulling you down into the seat. This is an odd feeling because you normally associate turn force with side loading, not compression loading, which is from the amount of banking in those turns. Now that the car is coming off the bank, the RPMs are climbing. The Roush Yates motor is giving it all to push this sixties brick up to roughly 160 MPH. The car was remarkably stable, more than anticipated honestly. At the end of the straight, you tapped the brake, threw it into the next turn, and off you went again.
After all the points were tallied Kyle took the win, with Brian coming in second and Mike at third. Points were tight but the day was to belong to the Tuckers. Crossing the country to take home second and third was a really successful trip for the Mike Maier Inc crew. New tracks and new conditions always prove to be challenging, we are going to make some adjustments and set our sights on Mini-Nats in Sonoma, CA.