SEMA and the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational

I’m getting ready to drive out to SEMA in Las Vegas, NV.
I’ll be driving up over the highest point in the Interstate Highway system – Eisenhower Pass – 11,158 feet above sea level – in my 66 year old car.
It’s also 28 degrees and snowing outside.
The snow, rain and sleet didn’t let up until we were about 25 miles from the Utah boarder.
But when the weather cleared up – it was beautiful.
My Vintage Air system kept me toasty warm and kept the windshield fog-free the entire trip.
We got off I-25 in Green River and were greeted by this golden tree.

In the picture, The 55 looks nice and shiny.
But that’s from a distance.
Check out the war-paint from driving a few hundred miles in snowy, wet Colorado conditions.

The 55 is filthy, but I think it’s a pretty cool aerodynamic effect from the Hood-Bird!!
Plus, the color helps hide dirt really well.
Since I was in Green River – I had stop in at Ray’s Tavern for a cheese burger.
Ray’s never disappoints.
A block away from Ray’s is the Robbers Roost Motel that I discovered because of its cool neon sign.
I even tried one of those cool looking open exposure shots.

I definitely need to practice more.
Oh yeah – if you need a good little place to stay in Green River and you don’t want to break the bank – check out the Robbers Roost Motel.
The next morning I got up a little late, but I was still able to get this shot.

Chasing shadows into the new day.
Love that!!
We made it into Las Vegas ahead of schedule.
A couple of days earlier – thru the power of social media – I saw Hot Rod Magazine Editor-in-Chief John McGann post a picture his own “Truck Norris” parked here, so I knew I was in the right place.

After checking into the hotel I went and got my SEMA credentials.

Then I had to see what they did to Project X with my own eyes.

Motor Trend had it electrified and people were very unhappy.
What do you think of the “new” electric Project X?
I also wanted to see Chevy’s new monster engine.

A 632 cubic inch crate engine with 1004 horsepower!!
Yeah – 1004hp.
I love the cars – but what I wanted to see the most was my car-family.

Two of my favorite people – @MariaTalksChevy & John McKernan from Chevrolet.
I also got to see Mike Copeland and his hydrogen powered Chevy pick-up.

100% Revolutionary.
And – Yes – it runs on hydrogen!!
I got to catch up with old friends like Katie Osborne and John Kraman from Mecum Auctions who are now a part of the Motor Trend family.

And I got to reacquaint with one of the fastest women I know.
The lovely Alex Taylor who I last saw on the Hot Rod Power Tour.

I even got to see some of the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational competition at SEMA for the first time ever.
Very cool!!
SEMA ended Friday and the Optima USCI was at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday and Sunday.
On my way over to the speedway I spotted a rare double bat-wing.

And the Star Motel.

Another mid-century masterpiece is the Pete Findlay Oldsmobile showroom that was built in 1963.
It currently houses the Flamingo Collision Center.

I dig that triangle roof!!
The Sky Ranch Motel sign is awesome but it has seen better days.

I made it to the LVMS where they had two more days of racing.
Here’s the cars.

They had something for everyone.
I even got Terry Lysak doing his thing with David Carroll‘s freshly sorted square body Blazer.

I do love the cars and the racing.
But, to me, the best part is getting to hang out with my friends.
I got to hang out in the Laid-Back pits with Hondo, Kari, T-Rose, K-Bone and the Laid-Back crew.
Good times.
Monday morning I’ll head out and make my way through Death Valley National Park, and then up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco and Pleasanton to the Goodguys Autumn get-together.
If you see me out on the road be sure to stop and say hi.
My name is Jeff Thisted and I drive a 55.

2 thoughts on “SEMA and the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational

  1. Nice writeup Jeff! and great photos as always.. but I have a question:
    “Now that they’ve made project X into an Electric Vehicle.. Does that mean it’s now an EX ? Most of my friends and myself would say YES to that.. it being an ex-ProjectX that we all loved, but I suppose ‘once loved is better than never loved at all’??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Gary!! I really appreciate it.
      I think Project-X is now considered an “EV” – Electric Vehicle – I think…
      I LOVE Project-X and I’ve even driven it – I wish they’d have put in Chevy’s new 1004hp big block in it instead of going electric.
      That said – Project-X has always been there to test out the latest and greatest technology.
      I hope to see you out on the road my friend!!


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