Event Coverage: Return To The Coast – Where Musclecars Unite

Let’s face it, if you’re into the musclecar scene, you’re well aware of the growing popularity of various open track and autocross events. If you haven’t noticed, well, get with the times. If you’re familiar with the American Street Car Series (ASCS), you’ll know we’ve covered their primary event, Run To The Coast III earlier in the year. However, entries for the primary event sell quickly leaving many fans and potential participants kicking cans.

Thankfully, the ASCS, founded by die-hard musclecar heads, responded with a followup event; allowing many return and newcomers to enjoy the event in a part deux style offering up the same wheel-to-wheel fun. With the success of the west coast event gaining in popularity, ASCS planned to kick off Return To The Coast on October 5-7, 2012 at the historic El Toro Marine base, located in Irvine, California.

Much like the first event, Friday detailed the annual cruise and dinner with two full days of racing on Saturday and Sunday. Each day included an autocross course, Speed/Stop Squared and road courses.

Of course, banking on the success from the first event earlier in the year, we couldn’t help but cover the entirety of the event. While we were at it, we got our greedy mitts on entering our very own ’72 Nova project vehicle. From a participants standpoint, all you’ll need is an American powered early- or late-model vehicle, a helmet and rubber on all four corners with a minimum of 200 treadwear.

The TCI Engineering Camaro was playing hard all weekend, though a steering pump leak late Saturday caused the the crew to pack it in early.


Friday Cruise /// Bombing The Highways With Muscle

Since Friday entailed the cruise portion of the event, we kicked things off at the host hotel in Irvine, California. We were met with the ASCS event organizers of Return To The Coast, Yancy Johns and Brian Finch for registration and prepped for our all day cruise. As with any cruise, organization is key to its success.

Thankfully, we had Sal Soloranzo of TCI Engineering leading the pack with their ’68 Camaro test car throughout the entire 100-mile cruise.

In the event that anybody became separated, each driver was handed a packet of detailed instructions, including maps of the events cruise and a full schedule. With an appointment at the Magnaflow exhuast facility waiting, we jumped onto the freeway and began our cruise. A short cruise later winding in and out of the Riverside area of California, our cruise-pack landed with open arms at the Magnaflow facility.

The TCI Test Camaro led the way throughout the 100 mile cruise. There were plenty of muscle cars on hand to visit the Magnaflow facility.

Once there, we were handed a special, VIP tour of the Magnaflow grounds. We were also given special access to the research and development department where Magnaflow, under special consideration, will build you a custom exhuast setup for nearly any vehicle. The group was also granted access to the Magnaflow dyno area where test vehicles are subjected to rigorous testing regiments to assure quality.

During the Magnaflow visit, the group was given a VIP-style tour through the entire facility.

Maintaining our schedule, we again followed the TCI Engineering Test ’68 Camaro out of the Magnaflow facility to our next location. If the Magnaflow tour was any foreshadow to the day ahead, we were certainly pumped and couldn’t wait to hit our next landing spot since half the fun is getting there. Our road tour group then hit the Ortega Highway, heading into the Lake Elsinore, California area where we planned a stop at the Lookout Bar. It served as the prime location for some epic photo opportunities and as a chance to mix and mingle with some of the other participants.

With group shots under our belt, the tour group headed down from the Lookout Bar for a closer look at the Lake Elsinore. We were right on schedule, too, hitting up our lunch spot for an all-American cheeseburger and fries at In-N-Out.

The cruise group gets look at a TCI test vehicle being fitted with a custom, low clearance Magnaflow exhaust system. Left, Scott Haggai and Brian Finch take a closer look at some of the finer build details.

Our entire group got some great photos of the scenery as well as this group shot. It was a perfect day for the cruise, what a blast.

With full bellies and a chance to cool our powerplants, we again hit the road deep into Riverside to the Riverside International Automotive Museum. There we had the chance to cruise the facility to check out some vintage F1 and Indy cars as well as rare and exotic European vehicles as well.

After our short stop in Riverside, we mounted up our posse for our final stop during the cruise at Eddie Motorsports (EMS) where the team would be hosting the cruisers a dinner and the chance to take a tour of their high-tech facility.

Eddie Motorsports specializes in the demand for high-performance billet products, including complete small- and big-block and LS-serpentine kits as well as a ton of other high-polished, anodized or powder-coated gems for your musclecar.

Our tour of the EMS facility included their appropriately adorned showroom, featuring some of the EMS line of billet steering wheels, front serpentine kits and even universal applications like billet battery trays. Owner Eddie Borges made sure for a full disclosure-style tour; even allowing the group behind the scenes to the entire EMS grounds and their manufacturing processes.

EMS showed the group how each process begins as a blank piece of billet, all the way through its line of manufacturing until it becomes a completed part.

We were given full reign and witnessed parts during the early stages of manufacturing as billet chunks, which get machined in the CNC equipment, right down to the powerdercoating and anodizing process during the final stages of production. 

Saturday And Sunday Event /// Run What You Brung

Though some participants weren’t able to make the cruise, they showed their force by showing up to the first day of Saturday racing at the historic El Toro Marine base. After each vehicle is approved through a quick tech inspection and given a run group, the drivers meeting could commence.

Event organizers discuss the events for the weekend; going over safety and track specifics.

Our ASCS, Return To The Coast hero’s, Yancy Johns and Brian Finch, led the show and made it clear to have fun and remain safe.

The drivers meeting consisted of some basic mentions, including a strict regime of remaining in the assigned run group. It also outlined the details of each course. The road course would feature five cars on the course at one with an estimated 1.8 miles of work worth of cones to battle.

For the autocross course, participants would be competing against the clock one at a time through a determined course. As for the Speed/Stop course, this  year ASCS spun it a bit differently, offering up two identical courses, consisting of an 1/8th-mile drag race to a hairpin 180-degree turn into a slalom return.

However, each car would be racing simultaneously in opposing directions like a traditional monster truck race. To followup each days worth of racing, to determine the winner, the fastest of the day would enter into a shootout on the autocross track and hail a champion.

Father and son team, Ryon and Rob Chandler split driving duties in their '68 Camaro for the weekend. Their best time on the road course brought them into 16th place overall with an elapsed time of 1:52.200.

Autocross /// Slow Is Fast

Clearly one of the favorites, the autocross allowed both veteran and beginners to battle it out against the clock. The autocross is a great opportunity for participants who have essentially never wheeled before, to get in their cars and let it all hang out.

John Barkley and son Greg were piloting their Camaro all weekend and had great results.

Best part, speeds are relatively low and killing a cone would be the only drawback. The autocross is certainly a humbling experience. Leave the ego at the door, literally. There’s nothing link looping your freshly built musclecar in front of everyone to smarten yourself up.

Before you know it, you’re once thought out plan of dominating an autocross course you have no experience with becomes painfully obvious as saw back and forth on the steering wheel to get the car back in line.

Thankfully, however, that’s not a problem. Simply take your time, steer back and get to the finish. For those drivers familiar with their vehicles, even though just racing the clock, it opened the doors to some highly competitive times on the course. For both Saturday and Sunday, lap times were recorded and tracked. To see the results for Saturday’s autocross, click here. To see results for Sunday’s results, click here.

Not letting all the hard tops have all the fun, Cheryl Herrick was wheeling around this convertible fifth-gen with ease.

As Saturday progressed, time progressively got faster and faster. By Sunday, the autocross course was free of surface dust and there was a nice layer of rubber throughout. This led to incredibly fast times by much of the participants.

The talkative Steven Rupp, Associate Editor for Camaro Performers, made another appearance at this years event, of course, bringing along his alter ego, Bad Penny.

Road Course /// Big, Fast And Heavy

One of the events which sets the American Street Car Series apart from the rest of the industry, is their attention to detail. Case in point, the road course. While to some, it’s mainly just a larger version of the autocross, that couldn’t of been farther from the truth. With 1.8 miles of uninterrupted driving, the road course stood out as the proverbial white unicorn of entire Return To The Coast.

Mike Hickman let it all hang out in his blown LS-powered '68 C-10. Hickman's run was good for 1:50.518, enough to place him 13th overall on the road course.

Event organizers like Yancy Johns and Brian Finch couldn’t see it any other way either. A road course should serve as a staple of the events, allowing drivers the chance to really open up the cars for some a hair-raising experience with high speeds and hard braking. 

Each group would enter the road course to follow the lead car, usually an event staff member. This allowed drivers the chance to feel out the track and become familiar with the turns, where to break, how to enter and exit safely and where to plant your foot.

Inevitably, for those who were entering turns too fast,  the course did allow for some wild powerslides and spin outs. To cover the event accurately, we were granted access to the open air field and had the chance to snap away and some high-dollar and budget-built musclecars. For the road course results, click here.

Rodney Prouty heads into a straight while on the 1.8-mile road course. His Camaro was able to muster out a very respectable 14th place overall with a 1:51.281 time.

Speed-Stop Challenge /// Drag It Out And Steer It Back

Nick Licata in the "Black betty" squares off with Gerald Lum in his second-gen '71 Camaro.

Ever wanted the best of both worlds when it came to drag racing and corner carving? Well, with the ASCS’ Return to The Coast event, your wildest dream could come true.

With a true drag race Christmas tree, complete with amber, green and red lights, contestants would line up facing away from each other in an opposing fashion.

Once the light went green, it was nothing but empty tarmac where each car drag raced away from the lights.

At the top end, each driver was met with a 180-degree hairpin turn that led directly into a slalom course back to the finish line. Each driver had to stop in a predetermined cone box. First one back to the box with a complete stop, wins.

Rockin' Rob McGregor couldn't help but hang it all out on this course and made pass after pass to get familiar with the track.

The Results /// Leaving Their Mark On Return To The Coast

To conclude our last day of racing, the ASCS hosted its round of awards, giveaways and even a small auction. We can’t say enough good things about the ASCS and all who are involved with organizing and setting up this awesome event for enthusiasts. From the staff at Chevy Hardcore and Power Automedia, it truly is appreciated. We hope to continue covering Run To The Coast again this year and again for Return To The Coast to followup later in the year. We’re looking forward to seeing some return participants as well as newcomers. Can’t wait!

Popular Hot Rodding's Editor's Choice award went to Gregg Blundell in his '69 Camaro.

Car Craft Magazine gave their Editor's Choice award to Kyle Newman and the Newman gangs '55 Chevy 210.

Left, Camaro Performer's Modern Camaro award went to Don Gonzalez for his '10 Camaro. Right, the Camaro Performer's Classic Camaro award went to Rodney Prouty.

Editor of Camaro Performer's handed Dannie Pinard the award for Quickest Modern Camaro.

Karl Dunn, left, made his efforts worthwhile, winning numerous awards including the Speed/Stop Challenge overall. Center, Popular Hot Rodding made Chris McCrea winner for the autocross event. Right, Rob McGregor claimed Popular Hot Roddings Road Course award.

Finally, Karl Dunn was handed two additional awards. One as the Quickest Overall Classic Camaro from Camaro Performer's Magazine and the other for Overall Winner of the entire event. Overall nominations came from Chevy High Performance Magazine

About the author

Sean Haggai

The former Associate Editor of Chevy High Performance, joins publication Chevy Hardcore, Sean is a true blue Bow Tie guy and a core do-it-yourself technician. If it doesn't run a "mouse motor" or a big rat between fenders, Sean ain't interested.
Read My Articles

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