$2000 Hotrod Upsets 1000-Horsepower Hellcat

What does it take to outrun Don Garlits’s 10-second, 1000-horsepower Hellcat Redeye? How about a low-buck hotrod, a Pontiac Sunbird whose engine was considered junk just two weeks prior. Total budget for that build? Just two grand.  

Welcome to the Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge, an event created 20 years ago with a simple goal: Show the world that racing doesn’t need to be expensive. This year’s cap for all teams was just $2000.

Nearly 70 teams registered for this year’s $2000 Challenge, held October 25-26 at Central Florida’s Gainesville Raceway. In addition to the drag racing, the competition included autocross and concours judging. 

Top Honors: After two days of activity, the overall win went to Travis Turner’s 1980 Datsun 210 wagon. The retro paintjob and box flares covered the entire running gear from an Infiniti G35, from the twin-cam V6 to the wishbone suspension. When his name was announced as the overall winner, the crowd broke into a standing ovation. His prize haul included a Miller Millermatic 211 MIG Welder. 

Top Speeds: The top time at the drag strip again went to the Nelson family. Calvin Nelson drove their turbocharged LS-swapped Pontiac Sunbird to a 9.847-second E.T.

Top Camaraderie: Once again, this event showed how the Grassroots Motorsports community is more than trophies and bragging rights. One regular, John Welsh, added 400 miles to his trip just so he could help a get a fellow competitor’s RV to the event. Another long-time participant, Seth Lemke, created, organized and managed an entire subclass, even when last-minute surgery kept him home and bedridden. Other Challengers set up an entire taco bar for charity, raising nearly $1000 and feeding the field in the process. 

Top Shine: Georgia Tech’s Wreck Racing, a fixture at the event for 15 years, showed up with a V8-powered BMW 5 Series, a motorized couch, and an army of 40-plus student engineers. For winning the concours, their haul included a CRC Industries SmartWasher BenchtopPRO, a self-contained parts washer. 

Top Creativity: Sometimes you have to look outside the box. Hong Norr Racing, a fixture at the $2000 Challenge back the early years, spied a Cadillac CTS-V offered via the Grassroots Motorsports message board. The car sported nearly 300,000 miles on the odometer, while only the first four speeds worked. The asking price was $3800–too much for the budget cap but still intriguing. The team haggled the car down to $2000. Then they gutted the interior, buffed the paint, and added hand-cut graphics that recall Cadillac’s factory race effort. 

Top Action: This year’s $2000 Challenge attracted amazing builds, super-fast cars and smiling faces–some we haven’t seen in a few years. Check out the photo gallery below, and Subscribe Now to read the full story in the April issue of Grassroots Motorsports.

Top Support: In addition to Grassroots Motorsports, CRC Industries and Miller Electric, the $2000 Challenge was backed by Copart and White Pony Absorbent Products. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
10/25/19 4:00 p.m.

And a bonus video! (With bonus Katie talking)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by CRC Automotive (@crcauto) on

 

bmw88rider
bmw88rider UltraDork
10/25/19 4:17 p.m.

Can I say I'm not a fan of the removing half of the body work idea that I've seen lately. 

 

Love the Egg. Looking good guys. 

_
_ Dork
10/25/19 4:20 p.m.

Ooh, an NX! 

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
10/26/19 6:54 a.m.

I'm curious to know more about the z3... it's doing remarkably well!

Stampie
Stampie UltimaDork
10/26/19 7:10 a.m.

In reply to sleepyhead the buffalo :

During the drags it was mentioned it had a $300 purchase price. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
10/26/19 7:36 a.m.

New photos just added!

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
10/26/19 8:22 a.m.
bmw88rider said:

Can I say I'm not a fan of the removing half of the body work idea that I've seen lately

If you're talking about the red mustang, the removed body work was all accident damaged. 

DjGreggieP
DjGreggieP Reader
10/26/19 9:16 a.m.

One day I really need to make it out for the Challenge... I think I will spend half my work day scouring for a cheap used car to build.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/26/19 9:30 a.m.

Only today did I wonder if a parachute is exempt safety equipment. 

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
10/26/19 9:35 a.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

Only today did I wonder if a parachute is exempt safety equipment. 

Only been one guy that makes that a real question. Lol. 

captdownshift
captdownshift UltimaDork
10/26/19 9:47 a.m.

The egg was posted in here for sale, pimpM3 stepped up (and I'm glad that he did) it's amazing how the paintwork looks now! I think next year on sticky rubber it has the potential to be a top 10 autocross car. 

UnrefinedProject
UnrefinedProject New Reader
10/26/19 1:15 p.m.

I love the NX!

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan UberDork
10/26/19 1:57 p.m.
dculberson said:
bmw88rider said:

Can I say I'm not a fan of the removing half of the body work idea that I've seen lately

If you're talking about the red mustang, the removed body work was all accident damaged. 

Mustang.  Figures.  cheeky

Cotton
Cotton PowerDork
10/26/19 5:03 p.m.
Jordan Rimpela said:

And a bonus video! (With bonus Katie talking)

 

 

I want that Trans Am badly.  What's the story on it?  

8valve
8valve Reader
10/28/19 11:43 a.m.

NX2's.. torky and factory lsd too..  $300 is nuts.  Never see those no more.

 

Other cars are so good too.  That wood aero is teh best.

bray_is_tall
bray_is_tall New Reader
10/29/19 7:43 a.m.
DjGreggieP said:

One day I really need to make it out for the Challenge... I think I will spend half my work day scouring for a cheap used car to build.

Same here! 

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
10/29/19 10:06 a.m.

I love this with all of my love.  I can't wait for next year - I'll actually be out there!

TheV8Kid
TheV8Kid HalfDork
10/29/19 10:54 a.m.

Definitely one of the best Challenges ever! The fire is reignited. Looking forward to next year.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
10/29/19 10:56 a.m.
Cotton said:
Jordan Rimpela said:

And a bonus video! (With bonus Katie talking)

 

 

I want that Trans Am badly.  What's the story on it?  

Circle track front end, deafeningly loud. 

2002maniac
2002maniac Dork
10/29/19 12:31 p.m.

Lots of references to $2000 budget and $2000 Challenge

Is it no longer the $20XX challenge with the budget equal to the year? I always thought that was kind of fun. The challenge has always been my favorite event to follow online and in the magazine.

dropstep
dropstep UltraDork
10/29/19 2:48 p.m.

Seeing a non rusty sub 2k foxbody notch reminds me of how jealous I am of Southerners sometimes. Looks like people had a blast 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
10/29/19 7:44 p.m.
2002maniac said:

Lots of references to $2000 budget and $2000 Challenge

Is it no longer the $20XX challenge with the budget equal to the year? I always thought that was kind of fun. The challenge has always been my favorite event to follow online and in the magazine.

That got too complicated to explain to sponsors, and it's tricky to market a brand when the name of the brand changes every year.

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
10/29/19 7:55 p.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

That actually makes a ton of sense. I had wondered about the change and that totally clears it up for me. 

jstein77
jstein77 UberDork
10/30/19 1:49 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
2002maniac said:

Lots of references to $2000 budget and $2000 Challenge

Is it no longer the $20XX challenge with the budget equal to the year? I always thought that was kind of fun. The challenge has always been my favorite event to follow online and in the magazine.

That got too complicated to explain to sponsors, and it's tricky to market a brand when the name of the brand changes every year.

jg

So you're saying that your sponsors aren't bright enough to figure out what year it is?

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Reader
10/30/19 2:18 p.m.

I wonder how much that $19 hit to the budget affected things.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
10/30/19 2:33 p.m.

In reply to GCrites80s :

Not just $19.  Also $9.50 of recoup.  To put that into perspective my 2016 budget was 2015.xx with full $1008 recoup and it would have been hard to make cheaper barring a deal on a used nitrous kit.  I have since stockpiled a $100 kit and a pair of $90 kits for challenge use.  One was used on the AMG this year but it will be removed and reused next year.  

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
10/30/19 3:09 p.m.
jstein77 said:
JG Pasterjak said:
2002maniac said:

Lots of references to $2000 budget and $2000 Challenge

Is it no longer the $20XX challenge with the budget equal to the year? I always thought that was kind of fun. The challenge has always been my favorite event to follow online and in the magazine.

That got too complicated to explain to sponsors, and it's tricky to market a brand when the name of the brand changes every year.

jg

So you're saying that your sponsors aren't bright enough to figure out what year it is?

Sounds like you've never had sponsors. We're very lucky with our current crop of excellent sponsors: CRC Industries, Miller, and Copart. 

Terrence
Terrence
10/30/19 8:36 p.m.

In reply to sleepyhead the buffalo :

Yea I sent a picture of it at the event to my co-worker that I bought it from

pimpm3
pimpm3 UltraDork
10/31/19 4:15 p.m.
8valve said:

NX2's.. torky and factory lsd too..  $300 is nuts.  Never see those no more.

 

Other cars are so good too.  That wood aero is teh best.

NX was $1500.  I found it through the forum from Maryland.  I actually registered it which is a big step for me...

Autocrossing it Sunday.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
10/31/19 5:23 p.m.
TheV8Kid said:

Definitely one of the best Challenges ever! The fire is reignited. Looking forward to next year.

I agree- me too!

Ive already got the car. Watch out- I’m putting a target on your back! wink

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
10/31/19 6:16 p.m.
SVreX said:
TheV8Kid said:

Definitely one of the best Challenges ever! The fire is reignited. Looking forward to next year.

I agree- me too!

Ive already got the car. Watch out- I’m putting a target on your back! wink

GO FOR IT!!!!!

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
10/31/19 6:19 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

Only today did I wonder if a parachute is exempt safety equipment. 

Not exempt. Price was included. I have 2 that are Challenge friendly. Our next one won't be. 

P3PPY
P3PPY Reader
11/2/19 10:53 a.m.

The pictures are inspiring. I’m so amazed at what cars can be found running and driving (or reasonably close to it) for $2k. The BMWs, the Porsche, the Caddy. 

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