$2015 Challenge: Celebrating the Country’s Top Low-Buck Builders

Ed
By Ed Higginbotham
Oct 26, 2015 | $2000 Challenge

The Nelson family finally won the Challenge after 11 years of competition. And, yes, that's Al Unser Jr. celebrating with the family.
Texas A&M brought a very well-sorted turbo Mazda Miata and absolutely dominated the autocross portion of the event.
The "Mumpkin" finished third this year. It turned out to be a good year for turbo Mazda Miatas.
If you've ever played the popular "Gran Turismo" video games, you'll probably recognize this car.
Thanks to Pulstar Spark Plugs two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. made an appearance. What's he driving here? How about a Subaru Justy body atop of a Mustang Cobra chassis. Full feature to come in Grassroots Motorsports.
The Aristocrat Class, a subclass conjured up by our readers, welcomed luxury cars from premium brands like Lexus, Infiniti, BMW and Lincoln.
The Georgia Tech team again brought another wacky creation—this time a Subaru SVX-powered Honda Insight. Some trackside repairs got them back in the game.
Why the big meats? Despite some teething pains, this 440-cubic-inch-powered Neon broke into the 11s. Full feature to appear in Grassroots Motorsports magazine soon.

A homemade fastback Mazda Miata that resembles the brand’s Le Mans winner; a Volkswagen Beetle hotrod that can gobble a quarter-mile in 10 seconds; a Chevy Camaro that’s an exact replica of a popular video game ride: They can be found together in only one place, the Grassroots Motorsports $2015 Challenge. The event meets every year at Auto Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Florida, seeking the finest and fastest cars that competitors can build on a budget of two grand and change. Challengers are judged based on their autocross performance, quarter-mile times and concours scores.

The Grassroots Motorsports $2015 Challenge Driven by General Tire and sponsored by CRC Industries, Miller Electric Welders and Pulstar Spark Plugs kicked off on Friday, October 23, with the autocross portion of the competition. The course was fairly tight, ultimately rewarding some of the more agile cars. The Texas A&M engineering team made their presence known with a dominant autocross run in their corn-fueled turbo Mazda Miata. Their autocross time was 1.323 seconds faster than the second-place car.

As evening fell, the 50-plus Challenge entrants moved over to the Auto Plus Raceway drag strip for the quarter-mile portion of the Challenge. Andrew Nelson, known for posting 10-second Challenge drag times, broke the right ladder bar on his V8 Volkswagen Beetle on his very first pass. After hours of welding, Andrew and family had mended the suspension well enough for one more run. They made that single run count with a 10.396-second time, earning them a healthy win in the drag racing portion of the Challenge and a narrow lead overall over the Texas A&M crew in the overall standings. The $2015 Challenge would come down to the concours portion of the event.

If Texas A&M could score two points higher than the Nelsons in the concours, they would drive home champions. However, such triumph would not be enjoyed. The Nelsons rounded off the event with the highest concours score in the field. That boosted them to a first-time victory after 11 years competition in the $2000 Challenge. 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.

A special guest attended the Challenge this year. Al Unser Jr. acted as one of our judges for the concours portion and even took the wheel of some of the Challenge cars for autocross runs. He says he is definitely planning on returning. Thanks to Pulstar Spark Plugs for helping to make that possible.

The General Tire Challenge returned to this year’s schedule for its second running. It pitted 21 Challengers against each other on an autocross course, and everyone drove the same Mazda MX-5 and Mazda 3 fitted with General Tire high-performance rubber. Forty-two autocross runs later, Barry Miles claimed top honors and a free set of tires from General Tire.

Thanks to everyone for coming out and making this year’s Grassroots Motorsports Challenge one of the best yet. And thank you to our partner, General Tire, and sponsors CRC Industries, Miller Electric Welders and Pulstar Spark Plugs for making it all possible.

Not a subscriber? You’re not getting the full story. Read all about every car that made its way to the Challenge in an upcoming issue of Grassroots Motorsports. Subscribe here.

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Comments
pimpm3
pimpm3 Dork
10/26/15 4:48 p.m.

Wow I really must have sucked it up in the concours. I went from 13th dynamically (drag and autocross) to 20th. Oh well I need to work on my shtick for next year.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/26/15 4:50 p.m.

I will say, this year's concours was tough. I like the new, simpler scoring format, but some cars really pegged the "innovation" category.

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman Reader
10/26/15 4:55 p.m.
pimpm3 wrote: Wow I really must have sucked it up in the concours. I went from 13th dynamically (drag and autocross) to 20th. Oh well I need to work on my shtick for next year.

You need to recount, look at all of the Exhibition class cars off that finished in front of you. Also I must have missed the boat for saying I was one of the Aristocrats with the LS400. Can the exhibition class be put to the back of the list?

pimpm3
pimpm3 Dork
10/26/15 5:05 p.m.
Andy Neuman wrote:
pimpm3 wrote: Wow I really must have sucked it up in the concours. I went from 13th dynamically (drag and autocross) to 20th. Oh well I need to work on my shtick for next year.
You need to recount, look at all of the Exhibition class cars off that finished in front of you. Also I must have missed the boat for saying I was one of the Aristocrats with the LS400. Can the exhibition class be put to the back of the list?

Ok I went from 10th dynamically to 16th overall. Still not a good performance. 1st in aristocrats to 4th.

rcutclif
rcutclif GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/26/15 5:18 p.m.
pimpm3 wrote:
Andy Neuman wrote:
pimpm3 wrote: Wow I really must have sucked it up in the concours. I went from 13th dynamically (drag and autocross) to 20th. Oh well I need to work on my shtick for next year.
You need to recount, look at all of the Exhibition class cars off that finished in front of you. Also I must have missed the boat for saying I was one of the Aristocrats with the LS400. Can the exhibition class be put to the back of the list?
Ok I went from 10th dynamically to 16th overall. Still not a good performance. 1st in aristocrats to 4th.

Maybe try shaving off all of your paint?

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
10/26/15 5:36 p.m.

I love that it came down to the concours.

pimpm3
pimpm3 Dork
10/26/15 5:37 p.m.

In reply to rcutclif:

That was pretty badass I must admit

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman Reader
10/26/15 6:23 p.m.

In reply to rcutclif:

I did that in $2011 dead last in concourse.

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
10/26/15 6:58 p.m.

Notes question- next to the Texas A&M Racing- there's a C- is that a note that this is a college team?

As if that's what it means, aren't the Wreck teams from Georgia Tech?

And were there other college teams?

patgizz
patgizz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/26/15 7:08 p.m.
alfadriver wrote: Notes question- next to the Texas A&M Racing- there's a C- is that a note that this is a college team? As if that's what it means, aren't the Wreck teams from Georgia Tech? And were there other college teams?

Only those 2 colleges. Tech brought 2 cars

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