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Rising Star Brandy Phillips Competes in OPTIMA Street Car Invitational

(Las Vegas, NV) For the near thirty years I’ve been travelling to race tracks across this country, I’ve seen countless numbers of drivers and their well-prepared race cars as they ready for competition. This year’s OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI), however, ratcheted that pro-built grid level to an all-time high. With more than 100 dazzling cars in the competition, each displaying tons of ground-pounding horsepower and flashing impressive automotive design, I knew on arrival that this was going to be an event for the record books.

Covering the story for Thunder Valley Racing, the premier online news source for women in racing, I decided to follow racer Brandy Phillips as she wound her way through the driving events. Brandy is a seasoned competitor, having campaigned a 1970 Camaro under the Spectre Performance banner in the past. This year’s street car invitational, however, would serve as Brandy’s comeback event after taking nearly three years off for the birth of her son, Parker. Racing is a family affair for Brandy, and now ready to get back behind the wheel, her husband Rob, a master car builder himself, took the lead in preparing a custom built C10R truck, powered by an LS engine producing 585hp and a ground- gripping 575lb ft. of torque.

Just two days earlier, Brandy was not even sure she’d have the opportunity to compete in this year’s invitational, and was genuinely thrilled to receive the last OPTIMA “Golden Ticket” to the event. When asked about the Golden Ticket and what it meant to compete in the event, Brandy shared, “We had built the our ‘72 C10 (C10R) for SEMA as a Spectre Booth vehicle with the hopes of getting one of ten Golden Tickets into OUSCI the Thursday before the event. We were very fortunate to be chosen as the last Golden Ticket entry during the press conference in the Optima Batteries Booth. The truck was literally finished the day before leaving for SEMA. We only had 8 autocross laps at an event the weekend before to make sure the truck actually worked and wouldn’t fall apart. My main priority going into OUSCI was to keep the truck intact and not crash.

“This being a fresh build; I was still learning about the truck. Furthermore, I needed to regain my confidence. I knew that competing in this race would help build my confidence after having been out of the driver’s seat for almost three years. Lastly, I wanted to make sure I had a great time. Rob had competed in OUSCI with his ‘69 C10 back in 2010. He kept reminding me that the race goes by so quick, many forget to enjoy it while they are there. This was some of the best advice all weekend.”

First up in the competition events was the Wilwood Speed Stop Challenge; a tough place to begin for a driver with an all-new vehicle. As Brandy noted, “I knew from past race events that the speed stop was the event I least enjoyed, so I was glad to have that first and get it over with. I wasn’t very good at the speed stop, but I knew that going into the race. Though I felt it was a complete disaster, I put on a great show for the spectators and the TV crew. Like Jimi Day, the event coordinator always says, “If you can’t win, be spectacular.” Well, I accomplished that…”

The autocross competition was next, and was set up as two mirror courses with competitors running “heads up” against the clock. With many autocross competitions under her belt, this driving event was more suited to Brandy’s prior driving experience. As she noted, “I am a fan of autocross. You can do terrible in the beginning, but have several laps to improve your times throughout the day. Though you are still competing with other’s times, autocross is a race against your own times. OUSCI did make it a little more complicated by having a mirrored autocross so two cars could run at the same time; almost as if it were a race. This made things a little more entertaining for both the crowd and the drivers. Though a car would get to the finish line first, that didn’t always mean they won; a cone could have been knocked down or they could have gone off course. I had the opportunity to race Jane Thurmond and it was honestly the best time I had all weekend. It didn’t matter at that point who won; we just wanted to show everyone that these two girls were out having the time of our lives.”

The road course event would take place on Sunday, and in the overnight hours, Brandy decided to make some changes when she arrived at the track. “I was put in the advance group, but dropped down to the novice group after the lead follow laps. Though I probably could have kept up with the vehicles in the advance group, I felt that I might push the truck beyond my comfort level; possibly resulting in going off course or even worse, crashing. Though my pride had been shot down a little, I was proud of myself for admitting I needed to go into the novice group and work my way up from there. I had a lot more fun in that group, and was able to work on my lines rather than worrying about getting in the way of those behind me.”

At the end of the competition, Corvette Z06 driver Danny Popp came out on top, and secured the 2014 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car title. So, you ask, how did Brandy fare overall? When asked about her performance and experience at the OUSCI event, Brandy stated “The overall scores were just released yesterday afternoon, and I placed 67th out of 100 competitors. At first I shook my head and laughed. It was better than last! I am honestly thrilled I placed 67th though. My husband and I built a truck right before SEMA, had the opportunity to compete at OUSCI and the truck didn’t have any problems. That within itself is a huge victory. Besides, I can only improve from here since OUSCI marked the first official event for the truck going into 2015. I can’t wait to see my individual scores though. I think I was able to improve each time out and can’t wait to see my personal improvements throughout the weekend.”

With an attitude like that, we think Brandy will do just fine in her racing future. She has an amazing family and team to support her, and it’s clear when you meet her that her heart is very much behind the wheel. We can’t wait to watch her compete in 2015!

Special thanks to Scott Parkhurst with OPTIMA Battery, and to the sponsors for their generous support in making this event possible. We look forward to next year’s OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational. Who knows, maybe we’ll bring a trusty steed of our own!

The 2014 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational was presented by K&N Filters. This year’s event sponsors were BFGoodrich, Detroit Speed, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, Ridetech, Wilwood Disc Brakes, Snap-On tools, Jet-Hot Coatings, Red Line Oil, Showtime Motorsports and the MAVTV Network. The 2014 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational event will be broadcast on the MAVTV Network on November 21 at 8:00 PM EST.