Georgia Tech’s Wreck Racing Claims Top Honors at the $2000 Challenge

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Oct 26, 2020 | $2000 Challenge

What did you do in college? Go to class? Party? For a group of Georgia Tech students, the answer involves speed, creativity and engineering: They built a winning race car for just two grand. 

Wreck Racing, a student group at Georgia Tech, took top honors at the Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge presented by CRC Industries and eBay Motors. This low-buck event, hosted by Grassroots Motorsports magazine since 1999, took place at Central Florida’s Gainesville Raceway October 23-24, 2020. The competition again featured three venues: autocross, drag racing and concours judging. 

The students built a 1986 BMW 528e powered by a V8 engine mated to a giant, cast-off turbocharger–the name of the game here is a mix between thrift and creativity. In addition to a trophy, the students took home a cool grand in cash from eBay Motors; as the top-placing team in the autocross, they also won a ThermApparel UnderCool cooling vest.

A motorcycle-powered Subaru 360 microvan known as the Little Ball of Hate finished second overall despite sheering an axle early on. This car has come into the event several times before, always looking like a contender for top honors. This was its best finish to date. 

Dark Matter Racing’s turbocharged Ford Mustang came home third overall while posting the event’s fastest time down the drag strip: a scorching 11.027-second E.T. These two finishers claimed Moroso tire pressure gauges for their efforts, while that top drag run was good for a Holley Terminator X EFI system.

Robbie Cutcliffe’s Datsun roadster–vintage sheet metal topping a cast-off, single-seat race car–finished first in the concours competition. His prize stash included a CRC SmartWasher BenchtopPRO® Bioremediating Parts Washer.

Scroll down for final trophy winner, while a future issue of Grassroots Motorsports will detail the entire event, including the winning entry. More photos and complete results to come soon, too. 

$2000 Challenge Champion: The winner of the $2000 Challenge will receive a big trophy, a fancy winner's jacket, and $1000 in cash from eBay Motors.
College Class: Highest-placing car predominantly built by college students.
Wreck Racing, BMW 528e

Second Overall: The second highest-scoring team overall receives a trophy and a Moroso tire gauge. 
Most Spectacular Failure: These cars are built on a tight budget. Things blow up sometimes. This award goes to the most awesome disappointment of the year.
Little Ball of Hate Racing, Subaru 360 Van

Third Overall: The third highest-scoring team overall gets a trophy and a Moroso tire gauge.
Dark Matter Racing, Ford Mustang

First-Place Drag Race (fastest E.T): Trophy and a Holley Terminator X EFI system.
Dark Matter Racing, Ford Mustang, 11.027

Second-Place Drag Race: Trophies given to the three teams with the quickest drag passes.
Jonathan Whitaker Mazda RX-7, 11.961 sec.

Third-Place Drag Race: Trophies given to the three teams with the quickest drag passes.
Shelby Dodge Auto Club, Chrysler 300C, 12.354 sec.

First-Place Concours: Trophy and a CRC SmartWasher BenchtopPRO® bioremediating benchtop parts washer designed for the small repair shop or home garage.
Robbie Cutcliffe, Datsun 1500 Roadster, 22.25 points

Second-Place Concours: Trophies given to the three highest-scoring teams in concours judging.
Wreck Racing, BMW 528e, 21.75 points

Third-Place Concours: Trophies given to the three highest-scoring teams in concours judging.
Dark Matter Racing, Ford Mustang, 20.25 points

First-Place Autocross: Trophy and a ThermApparel UnderCool cooling vest, which keeps drivers cool without any hoses or ice chests. 
Wreck Racing, BMW 528e, 45.999 sec.

Second-Place Autocross: Trophies given to the three teams with the fastest autocross runs.
Basura Blanco Racing, Toyota MR2 Spyder, 46.201 sec.

Third-Place Autocross: Trophies given to the three teams with the fastest autocross runs.
Little Ball of Hate Racing, Subaru 360 Van, 46.929 sec.

Best Engineered: The Grassroots Motorsports staff will pick the car they believe to be the most ingeniously engineered.
Robbie Cutcliffe, Datsun 1500 Roadster, 4th overall

Editors’ Choice: The Grassroots Motorsports staff will pick their overall favorite entry.
Jonathan Whitaker Mazda RX-7, 5th overall

RADwood Class: RADwood is a celebration of '80s and '90s automotive lifestyle, and hosts car shows all over the country that blend period-correct dress with cars from 1980-1999 that capture the essence of a bodacious era. We’re bringing RADwood magic to the $2000 Challenge, and this trophy is for any vehicle that would be at home on a RADwood showfield. Period-correct dress is strongly encouraged, as are period-correct themes and accessories.
Jonathan Whitaker, Mazda RX-7, 5th overall

Challengers’ Choice: The $2000 Challenge participants will pick their overall favorite entry. 
Robbie Cutcliffe, Datsun 1500 Roadster, 4th overall

Phil Kime Spirit of the Event Award: Person or team that fully embodies the $2000 Challenge spirit.
Travis Turner, Roll-Ovalon, 13th overall

200 Treadwear: The highest-placing car on 200-treadwear or higher tires for the duration of the event. 
Travis Turner, Roll-Ovalon, 13th overall

Last Chance Award: Highest-placing car acquired no more than 10 days before the first day of the event. Car shall be purchased from general public, not another Challenge team.
Travis Turner, Roll-Ovalon, 13th overall

Best Theme: The Grassroots Motorsports staff will pick their favorite theme. 
Cobra Kai Speed Shop, Tod Byram, 1997 Pontiac Mia-TA, 10th overall

Old Guy Class: Highest-placing car predominantly built by people 55 or older.
Cobra Kai Speed Shop, Tod Byram, 1997 Pontiac Mia-TA, 10th overall

Rookie of the Year Award: Highest-placing first-timer.
Danny Varner, Chevrolet Corvette, 9th overall

High School Award: Highest-placing car predominantly built by high schoolers.
Hogtown Speed Shop, Jonathan Miller, Pontiac Vibe GT, 20th overall

Stock Block Class: Highest-placing car with the OEM (or duplicate replacement) engine block. 
Richard Ortengren, Team T-Bone, Corvette kart, 6th overall

CAM Class: The highest-placing car that meets the SCCA’s Classic American Muscle rules during the autocross and drag race. All CAM sub-classes are eligible.
LoPrep Racing, Tim Spellman, 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, 24th overall


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View comments on the GRM forums
MrJoshua UltimaDork
10/25/20 9:46 a.m.

Thanks for putting on the event even when it may have felt like a bad idea. We had an incredible time.

Javelin (Forum Supporter)
Javelin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/25/20 9:49 a.m.

Congratulations to everyone!

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/25/20 9:57 a.m.

Classic E28 performance, always hard to beat wink

surfshibby07 HalfDork
10/25/20 10:30 a.m.

Congrats to everyone. Some awesome performances by the winners. Looking forward to next year! 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
10/25/20 11:42 a.m.
MrJoshua said:

Thanks for putting on the event even when it may have felt like a bad idea.

Accurately describes pretty much every year :)

300zxfreak Reader
10/25/20 12:02 p.m.

With a winning drag e.t. in the elevens, one has to assume that the Nelsons were either not in attendance or they blew up spectacularly. 

84FSP UltraDork
10/25/20 12:16 p.m.

 Congratulations all for braving the event and once again to the GRM team for giving misfits a home.

Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/25/20 1:04 p.m.

In reply to 300zxfreak :

I think I heard that they fragged their transmission loading it on the trailer?  That may have been someone else, though.

buzzboy Dork
10/25/20 2:23 p.m.

Did the PACC Talon make it this year? I was expecting to see them on the drag podium based on testing time slips.

Congrats to all!

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
10/25/20 2:49 p.m.

In reply to buzzboy :

They weren't there and IIRC they ended up over $2K on the Talon because it's intended for another competition for LS4 powered cars .

surfshibby07 HalfDork
10/25/20 4:11 p.m.

they were going to bring a turbo 4200 fairmont they built inside a month from the event, but the trans let go the night before they were going to leave. Not having a spare one ended their chances of coming. 

rustomatic Reader
10/26/20 12:08 p.m.

That E28 is just sexy.  Good work, college people!

ckosacranoid SuperDork
10/26/20 12:50 p.m.

Congrats to everyone that was able to attand the event.

Good to the Wreak racing Team and congrats to you guys. Damn good job.

Sorry to see Wheels and the famly not be able to show up...I mean no one was in the 10's this year.

What was the car count?

surfshibby07 HalfDork
10/26/20 2:02 p.m.

In reply to ckosacranoid :

Ed ran 11.02 Pretty dang close. I think there were 32 cars in all that showed up, but i could be wrong. 

aw614 Reader
10/27/20 8:49 a.m.

Congrats to Tod @Cobra Kai Speed Shop winning Old Guy Class and Best Theme. Loved the TA look the Miata had when I saw it at the pca autocross. 

John Welsh (Moderate Supporter)
John Welsh (Moderate Supporter) Mod Squad
10/27/20 11:21 a.m.

You might think the Georgia Tech University students come to learn.  Seems they come to TEACH! 

Well done!  

spitfirebill MegaDork
10/27/20 2:13 p.m.

I think you need to do an IQ handicap on those guys.  

LopRacer Dork
10/27/20 7:16 p.m.

Congratulations, one day I hope to make it to the festivities.

ckosacranoid SuperDork
10/29/20 4:11 p.m.

Who got the longest drive award this year? I mean someone had to drive their car to the event instead of a trailer?

Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/29/20 4:56 p.m.

In reply to ckosacranoid :

Shaun did, came from Utah.  Unfortunately he got rear ended and the Mustang got killed.  He and his dad are ok, minus some bruises.

ckosacranoid SuperDork
10/31/20 1:43 p.m.

Was that the black or grey one in the photos i seen? I seen his posted something in a different rhear bveing hurt. not sure which car it was.

Best of wishs to him and his dad. If nothing else make sure the other compnay pays for your car for next year and at least them have to pay 2020 bucks at least.

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