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

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.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more $2000 Challenge news.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
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 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 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

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
10/26/15 8:25 p.m.
patgizz wrote:
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

Neither of GT's cars teams have a C in their listing, that's why I was asking. If not college, what does the C mean for the A&M team?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/26/15 10:30 p.m.

Pretty sure C stands for college (or is it cookie?), but Rick can confirm in the morning.

DatsunS130
DatsunS130 New Reader
10/26/15 11:05 p.m.
David S. Wallens wrote: Pretty sure C stands for college (or is it cookie?), but Rick can confirm in the morning.

Maybe the C stands for corn.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/26/15 11:44 p.m.

True, in this case C could stand for corn.

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
10/27/15 6:32 a.m.
David S. Wallens wrote: True, in this case C could stand for corn.

Since you bring it up, say one has a large amount of really terrible wine. And a still. And can make Ethanol using a fuel licence.

Would I be labeled G then?

Can't say that I've not thought about that, too.

Rick Goolsby
Rick Goolsby Events Manager
10/27/15 9:16 a.m.

Look at the legend at the bottom of the scoring sheet and it will say what the letters mean.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Dork
10/27/15 9:34 a.m.

In reply to Rick Goolsby:

Not "C" though...

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
10/27/15 11:09 a.m.

If the Nelsons didn't break the U-bolt, would that car be into the nines? Also, what is the low ET record for the Challenge?

pimpm3
pimpm3 Dork
10/27/15 12:04 p.m.

The 10.3 is the record. Don't know about 9's thats a question for Andrew.

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
10/27/15 12:32 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote: In reply to Rick Goolsby: Not "C" though...

Which is why I asked.

TA_
TA_ New Reader
10/27/15 1:01 p.m.

In reply to pimpm3:

I feel your pain. 17th dynamically to 28th overall.

wheels777
wheels777 Dork
10/27/15 2:46 p.m.
Jerry From LA wrote: If the Nelsons didn't break the U-bolt, would that car be into the nines? Also, what is the low ET record for the Challenge?

The car broke the right ladder bar, not the U-bolt. The U-bolt got stripped when repairing the ladder bar.

The car would have run 10.30-ish if it were run the whole way through. The air density was 91%. The 10.396 is the new ET record.

Thanks for all the kind words. This was a special event for the family. Closure.

aussiesmg
aussiesmg MegaDork
10/27/15 3:09 p.m.

It couldn't have happened to nicer folks, great result.

Circuit_Motorsports
Circuit_Motorsports New Reader
10/27/15 4:57 p.m.

We had a good time and are looking to attend next year scheduling and time permitting. We want to thank everyone who made us feel welcome and voting for us to win the Challengers' Choice award, that was a great feeling knowing that the other competitors really liked what we brought!

m1sandman
m1sandman New Reader
10/27/15 5:49 p.m.

Massive congrats to everyone that took some hardware home, and thanks to all the competitors, pros, and GRM staff for a great even. We were n00bs this year and came to learn, which I feel like we did. I really enjoyed meeting so many of you and look forward to $2016... If any of you make it near Tampa, reach out and let's have a beer and some bench racing! Steve and family $2015 Ford Police Interceptor

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
10/27/15 5:59 p.m.

In reply to m1sandman:

Steve, Thanks for the invite to Davis Island Yacht Club. Some day, I'll take you up on it.

m1sandman
m1sandman New Reader
10/27/15 6:06 p.m.

In reply to JohnRW1621: You better! :) great meeting you John!

sethmeister4
sethmeister4 SuperDork
10/27/15 6:40 p.m.

My brother and I had a great time too, it was a blast meeting so many of you and seeing your awesome creations. Hopefully I will be back next year or in '17, and I already have plans for a nastier and more oddball FWD Nissan.

pimpm3
pimpm3 Dork
10/27/15 6:53 p.m.
sethmeister4 wrote: My brother and I had a great time too, it was a blast meeting so many of you and seeing your awesome creations. Hopefully I will be back next year or in '17, and I already have plans for a nastier and more oddball FWD Nissan.

Great meeting you guys. How about a quest, it would be easier to haul the mini-sethmeister in...

rich911s
rich911s None
10/28/15 8:08 a.m.

Great meeting you and your family Steve! Looking forward to grabbing a beer sometime in Tampa. We were definitely N00bs but it didn't feel that way with all the great people to hang with! Rich & Team T-bone 1995 Camaro Gran Turismo

patgizz
patgizz PowerDork
10/28/15 8:13 a.m.
rich911s wrote: Great meeting you and your family Steve! Looking forward to grabbing a beer sometime in Tampa. We were definitely N00bs but it didn't feel that way with all the great people to hang with! Rich & Team T-bone 1995 Camaro Gran Turismo

did not get a chance to talk to you, but when i saw your car i went "oh my god that's my go-to GT ride!"

ckosacranoid
ckosacranoid Dork
10/28/15 7:06 p.m.

Thank you very much to everyone this past weenkend. It was a blahst to be there and totaly blew me away to win the longest drive award......now I have to firgure where its going to go when I get home......hmmmmm.

I want to thank jonny prettit for taking some pics and video for me this weekend. I also want to thank everyone that checked out my photo page on face book every day of the event. The very high point was getting al to act as my personal driving teacher for about 30mits for the autocross. It was even more funny to hear from tim after tim to him to lunch he talked about riding in the subby. And making hisctwitter feed...you can not put a price on that at all. I do have one thing to ask in the finalmsheet total? What is the 1008 mean listed in my name mean? I could not figure it out..

Also blowing tims mind when you hand him a thank you note from an interveiw he did for a class project and a thank pic from my photo collection I had with me. With out the zine I know I would be involved with motor sports like I am much less where I am as a photographer.

pimpm3
pimpm3 Dork
10/28/15 7:13 p.m.

1008 is the half budget class.

davbro
davbro New Reader
10/28/15 9:14 p.m.

Great event, I stayed away too long. Hope to be back in 2016 in new challenge car. Who won best engineered and challengers choice (I voted for the Justang

pimpm3
pimpm3 Dork
10/28/15 9:37 p.m.

justang won challengers choice

spin_out
spin_out Reader
10/29/15 8:16 a.m.

I think the Justang could likely be a trophy winner if it comes back with a little suspension tuning. With a 305 hp Cobra motor and IRS it just needs to hook up a little better. Firm up the front, soften the back, find some used drag slicks, take home a trophy. It's quite a car.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
10/29/15 6:28 p.m.

The last few years the Overall has been won on the Concours.

It's a 3 part game, folks. You can't win with only 2 parts.

But I would argue that it was not won on the Concours this year. I made the podium with presentation, the other 2 cars made the podium with engineering.

But this year the win was Andrew Nelson's performance on the autocross.

We all know he can run 10's. We also know he can engineer a car.

My formula for an overall win took that into consideration. I had to beat Andrew by 3 seconds on the autocross in order to challenge him for the overall, because he could outrun me by 2 seconds on the drags, and I couldn't beat him by enough on the Concours to make the difference.

Andrew was 0.7 seconds off my very well sorted Miata on the autocross. THAT'S where it was won this year!

captdownshift
captdownshift UltraDork
10/29/15 9:41 p.m.

I send Andrew information on a testing location to use before next year as well

frenchyd
frenchyd Reader
10/31/15 1:54 p.m.

In reply to m1sandman: Did they have the Valve Cover Race this year?

Danny Shields
Danny Shields Reader
10/31/15 2:44 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd:

Mark Lasota took the win in the valve cover race.

DeadSkunk
DeadSkunk UltraDork
10/31/15 7:52 p.m.
spin_out wrote: I think the Justang could likely be a trophy winner if it comes back with a little suspension tuning. With a 305 hp Cobra motor and IRS it just needs to hook up a little better. Firm up the front, soften the back, find some used drag slicks, take home a trophy. It's quite a car.

Even with suspension tuning and slicks it will be outgunned. It needs some weight reduction. I think I overheard someone on that team say it weighed 2600 lb. IF that's right and without the driver, then it's 550 lb heavier than Andrew's VW and 100 HP short.

frenchyd
frenchyd Reader
11/1/15 11:19 p.m.

In reply to Danny Shields:

Where can I find information about the rules.. My Jag V12 valve cover racer.. is looking for someplace to race..

Danny Shields
Danny Shields Reader
11/2/15 5:34 a.m.

In reply to frenchyd:

Jag V-12, very nice!

Rules are at https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/events/valve-cover-racing/

Our Preferred Partners
dJBikjnzvaG50xnXLiSlOxRxmwSo8viZ3EIOyq7Ay0QWlzzykIpKonpy1mfVg7pz