After eight years, it was finally Jake’s turn to wave to the crowd from the top spot of the podium. As the clock wound down through the last few weeks of 2021, Optima Batteries put the finishing touches on the 14th annual Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (November 6-7) at the Las Vegas Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada.
When the dust had settled, Jake had secured the top spot, but it was a long, apex-filled road to get there, and it wasn’t by a huge margin. Jake had competed in the OUSCI events for the past eight years and just missed taking the tin from last year’s winner, Chris Ramey, by a mere, single point.
This year, Jake had a fire in his eyes, and his C5 Z06 was tuned to within an inch of its life. He attacked each championship-points-riddled event with a fever and a small sprinkling of pixie dust in hopes the world would get slower, or he would find those oh-so-necessary points hiding behind a cone or two during an event. Mining for those necessary points just illustrates how competitive this series has become. Once all the dust had settled and the points tallied, Jake had indeed overtaken last year’s winner, securing the 2021 title – by a single point! 2020 OUSCI Champion Chris Ramey finished in second place in his 1987 Chevrolet Corvette and Mike Rovere finished in third place with his 2008 Chevrolet Corvette. Do any Corvette historians remember the Corvette Challenge days?
Jake helps us mere mortals understand the extent one must go to reach such greatness. “Winning this trophy takes a lot of skill, takes a good car, and takes a little bit of luck,” said 2021 OUSCI winner Jake Rozelle. “I’ve been working at this for eight seasons and I came so close last year, so to come back and win this year is huge. I work on this car more than anybody knows and to finally have it all come together means a lot.”
What is the Optima Batteries OUSCI event?
The Optima Batteries OUSCI event was devised in 2007 as a way to compare “street cars” in competition following the SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada. All competing vehicles need to be licensed, registered, and insured for street use to even be considered for the competition. Over the past 14 years, the event has grown to be one of the most competitive metrics for pitting a car’s overall street-worthiness and outright performance potential in a racing series. Of course, having a great driver behind the wheel doesn’t hurt either, and many accomplished drivers have established their mark on the OUSCI trophy over the years.
This year’s racing schedule subjected both car and driver to numerous challenges throughout the country. Each event was comprised of the Lingenfelter Design and Engineering Challenge, the Lucas Oil Road Rally, Peak Performance Challenge (aka, the Speed/Stop event), QA1 Autocross, and the Falken Tire Road Course Time Trial. Over the course of the year, and at each event, competitors accumulated points for each challenge, and the overall championship title was awarded after all points, from each challenge at each event was tallied. The fact that Jake took the lead by a single point just shows how competitive this series has become.
Winners of the OUSCI event are awarded a commemorative jacket for their efforts and are the first to be invited to the next year’s event. Without a doubt, we would be VERY surprised if there isn’t a C5 Corvette Z06 sitting there, waiting for the gates to open. The OUSCI television series airs every Friday night at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on MAV TV. The championship episode aired on December 3, 2021, and MAVTV’s website has a listing of each of 2021’s event’s re-air times so you can still see what it took for Jake to weave his C5 Corvette to the front of the crowd. You can also check out the event’s Facebook page and “Like” the OUSCI event to keep up to date for this year’s events and watch as it all unfolds toward the finish line for 2022.