$2016 Challenge: Celebrating the Country’s Top Low-Buck Builders

For the second year in a row, Andrew Nelson reigns as our $2016 Challenge overall champion!
Love fast minivans? Sean Wagoner claimed top honors in the Soccer Mom Challenge class.
The wooden Porsche 917 replica built by Team T-Bone came in a very close second.
Steve Griffiths and the rest of the Razorback Racing crew returned after an off year to enjoy a third-place finish.
The breathtaking Justang, built by Circuit Motorsports, won the autocross portion of the event.

A wooden replica of Porsche’s iconic 917/10 Can-Am champion; a V8-powered hotrod that can gobble a quarter-mile in 10 seconds; a Subaru Justy that can beat most cars at your local autocross: They can be found together in only one place, the Grassroots Motorsports $2016 Challenge.

The event meets every year at Central Florida’s Gainesville Raceway and seeks the finest and fastest cars that can be built on a budget of just two grand and change. Challengers are judged based on their autocross performance, quarter-mile times and concours scores.

The Grassroots Motorsports $2016 Challenge Driven by General Tire and sponsored by CRC Industries and Miller Electric Welders kicked off on Friday, September 30, with the autocross portion of the competition. Circuit Motorsports claimed top honors with their Justang–a once-humble Subaru Justy subcompact mounted on a Mustang Cobra chassis.

As evening fell, the 40-plus Challenge entrants moved over to the Gainesville Raceway drag strip. Andrew Nelson, known for posting 10-second Challenge drag times, set a new event record with a 10.263-second run in a hot rod worthy of “American Graffiti.”

The last portion of the event was the concours competition, where Team T-Bone’s Porsche 917/10 replica stole the show. What started as a 1995 Chevy Camaro has been turned into a mid-engined, plywood-bodied replica of Porsche’s iconic racer.

Thanks to their strong scores in all three venues, Andrew Nelson and family took top honors for the second year in a row. That win also came with a free Miller Electric welder.

Click here for full results.. A photo album will be added to our Facebook page with more images from this year’s event.

As a special nod to some of the finest builders in the country, our friend Dean Case from Mazda awarded the Mazda’s Choice Award. The trophy went to the Cobra Kai Speed Shoppe and their first-generation Miata–done to emulate the famous Group 44 race cars of the ’60s and ’70s.

Ford also presented an award to their highest-finishing product. This award went to a truck–or half of one. Chris Bryant and his team, Procrastination Performance, stole the honors with a Ford F-350 crew cab and drivetrain mounted onto an all-wheel-drive chassis.

As a special sideshow, the General Tire Challenge again pitted 22 Challenge competitors against each other on the autocross course in identical cars fitted with General high-performance tires. This time the field ran both Mazda’s iconic MX-5 roadster and Mazda3 hatchback. Forty-four autocross runs later, Tod Byram claimed top honors and a free set of tires from General Tire.

Thank you to our partner, General Tire, and sponsors CRC Industries, and Miller Electric Welders for making this event possible.

Want to read all about each insane car at this year’s event? You can find it all in an upcoming issue of Grassroots Motorsports. Subscribe here.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more $2000 Challenge news.
View comments on the GRM forums
mndsm MegaDork
10/1/16 10:02 p.m.

It's like the red Sox. Couldn't win forever. Breaks the curse, now he's unstoppable. Go Andy nelson!

Danny Shields
Danny Shields Reader
10/2/16 6:14 a.m.

Ed, great job on all the coverage! Everyone at Grassroots Motorsports did a fine job hosting this signature event once again. Congrats to the winners and all the participants. What a wonderful group of wacky, creative and hard-working gearheads!

mazdeuce UltimaDork
10/2/16 6:23 a.m.

Thanks for all of the live video and real time coverage. After reading about so many of these builds as they happen it's a relief not to have to wait out a results embargo. Don't worry, I'll still spend way too much time reading about every entry in the magazine, just like I always do.

paranoid_android74 SuperDork
10/2/16 10:58 a.m.

I was able to watch the awards presentation last night- that was utterly awesome!

I could even connect some of the real people with their forum names. Somehow my living room got real dusty when hobiercr came up for his award...

Thank you guys for making the challenge accessible to those of us that couldn't make it!

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
10/2/16 11:46 a.m.

Glad you all enjoyed it! Let's do it again next year.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/2/16 4:24 p.m.
mndsm wrote: It's like the red Sox. Couldn't win forever. Breaks the curse, now he's unstoppable. Go Andy nelson!

Totally. Can't wait to see what the Nelson family beings next year.

Rick Goolsby
Rick Goolsby Events Manager
10/2/16 7:06 p.m.

In reply to Ed Higginbotham:

Congrats again to the Nelson family on a close fought win and for Calvin for his Rookie of the Year award. Many thanks to all the competitors for just making this a great event. Most of all I would like to thank all our staff that attended the event for all their hard work.

Stampie Dork
10/2/16 7:30 p.m.

Is there a dump of the slideshow pictures we can look at/steal from?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/2/16 7:33 p.m.
Stampie wrote: Is there a dump of the slideshow pictures we can look at/steal from?

Once we're in the office we'll post more pics.

Here's a shot for you, though.


Thanks for joining us.

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
10/2/16 7:34 p.m.

When I get back into the office tomorrow I should have access to all the photos everyone took over the weekend. I'll make a nice BIG image gallery for the site and Facebook.

Edit: Dag. David beat me to the punch

Stampie Dork
10/2/16 7:34 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens:

If it weren't you I'd say that I love you.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/2/16 7:42 p.m.

And here's something a bit more action-y.


Okay, back to the couch for some R&R.

evildky SuperDork
10/2/16 8:08 p.m.

Congrats again for another win Andy, and congrats to all who built and raced cars for less than $2016, I know first hand how challenging and rewarding this process can be.. Thanks to GRM and their staff for continuing to host one of the best automotive and social events anywhere. I hope to make it back one day.

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman HalfDork
10/2/16 8:40 p.m.

Pictures I took at the Challenge if you see one you like I can send you the full size version.

bigben New Reader
10/2/16 11:07 p.m.

That was a great event! I had a lot of fun and will hopefully make it back next year.

If anyone has some video or good action shots of the Opel GT please let me know. I had some camera issues and didn't get any pics or videos of my car during the racing.

NordicSaab HalfDork
10/3/16 4:50 a.m.
Andy Neuman wrote: Pictures I took at the Challenge if you see one you like I can send you the full size version.

Andy, there are about 3-4 shots of the '02 that are really good. Any chance you can send me high res ones?

alfadriver MegaDork
10/3/16 6:44 a.m.

Who had the LOWEST budget and finish all competitions?

SVreX MegaDork
10/3/16 7:02 a.m.

In reply to alfadriver:

Someone had a negative budget.

alfadriver MegaDork
10/3/16 7:48 a.m.


And that is awesome, whoever it was!

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
10/3/16 8:16 a.m.

I believe the negative budget was NordicSaab with the BMW 2002.

JohnRW1621 MegaDork
10/3/16 8:21 a.m.

On the BMW 2002 I remember him saying that the sale of the Chrome bumper and various exterior chrome trim alone returned more than he had into the purchase (or something to that affect.)

SVreX MegaDork
10/3/16 8:31 a.m.

Rule clarifications this year open the door wide open for negative budgets.

SVreX MegaDork
10/3/16 8:32 a.m.

In fact, that would be a rather interesting class... Negative budget cars!

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
10/3/16 8:32 a.m.

is the new rules going to be the same as the old? were getting underway HARD on the spirit, and just want to be certain before going off the deep end.

SVreX MegaDork
10/3/16 8:33 a.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13:

No major changes, just some tweaks. Cars by old rules are grandfathered in if necessary.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
10/3/16 8:35 a.m.

so as long as I keep the theme of the challenge rules from this past year, I'm good. didn't ever notice the negative budget possibility, so hadn't planned on exploiting that.

one set of tires still free, can only recoup 1008, and spend 2016. must pass tech.

got it. I think.

bluej UltraDork
10/3/16 8:52 a.m.

Was the themed sub-class discussed for $2017? (Luxo, vans,...Trucks? Wagons?)

SVreX MegaDork
10/3/16 8:54 a.m.

In reply to bluej:

Pickup trucks.

Anything that started life as a pickup truck, or has been made into one. Interpret as wide open as you choose. Still needs to meet the SCCA rollover guidelines like the minivans.

maschinenbau Reader
10/3/16 9:00 a.m.

Who won Longest Drive? The results don't say. Also, is Longest Drive only for Challenge cars that were driven, or do trailered cars count too?

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman HalfDork
10/3/16 12:28 p.m.

In reply to NordicSaab:

Updated link to full size

Robbie UltraDork
10/3/16 12:47 p.m.

Somehow I failed to self-identify the kemo saabi as being in the 1008 class. My total budget was about $950. oops.

Ovid_and_Flem Reader
10/3/16 12:53 p.m.

In reply to Robbie:

US too...we were in all $981.

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
10/3/16 2:44 p.m.
David S. Wallens wrote: Totally. Can't wait to see what the Nelson family beings next year.

Whatever it is, it could go nines in the quarter.

bigben New Reader
10/3/16 9:31 p.m.
maschinenbau wrote: Who won Longest Drive? The results don't say. Also, is Longest Drive only for Challenge cars that were driven, or do trailered cars count too?

Didn't there used to be an award for the fastest one man team?

And is it just me or did the results spreadsheet change between last night and today?

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
10/4/16 8:45 a.m.

In reply to bigben:

It did slightly change. See this thread.

bigben New Reader
10/4/16 9:50 p.m.

Thanks. I don't know how you guys keep up with all these threads. It's like your paid to monitor the website or something.

ckosacranoid Dork
10/4/16 10:35 p.m.

Wow, talk about some weird things. How many mini vans showed. Today was the first chance to hit the website all weekend. Was bummed I kept forgetting to look up how things where going. The very short ford truck looked weird? Story behind it? How many cut up bare framed cars where there? The wood body porsha looked very cool and in the spirt.

Very much stand round clapping of hands to andy and his family.

Hey andy, have you thought about boost for next year to get low 8 or 9? Turbo, super, nox for extra boost.....or just use rockets?

patgizz UltimaDork
10/5/16 5:27 p.m.
SVreX wrote: Rule clarifications this year open the door wide open for negative budgets.

I'd have had more than $0.79 left if this was known. I was following the old "can't recoup more than the initial parts deal" rules. I was negative on the donor but capped my recoup at the initial purchase price.

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