Gainesville, Florida - 28 October, 2014 – A turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Honda Civic masquerading as a Subaru WRC car; an open-wheel MG Midget built by college kids; and a Pontiac Sunbird clicking off 10-second quarter-mile times: They can all be found together in only one place, the Grassroots Motorsports $2014 Challenge. The event meets every year at Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Florida, seeking the finest and fastest cars it’s possible to build on a budget of two grand and change. The Challengers are judged based on their autocross performance, quarter-mile times and concours scores.
The Grassroots Motorsports $2014 Challenge powered by eBay Motors, driven by General Tire, and sponsored by CRC Industries and Eastwood kicked off on Friday, October 24, with the autocross portion of the competition. The course was fast, ultimately rewarding some of the higher-powered cars. Team Gutty, in the Subaru WRC-liveried, turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Civic, made a single pass to claim the lead. After blowing an engine in the autocross portion last year, they played it safe and immediately parked, not intending to put more strain on their car than necessary. That single pass proved to be enough as they walked off with the top autocross time, beating Ed Malle's lightweight Mustang full of home-brew aero by 0.43 seconds.
Next came the General Tire Challenge. This was a new event added to this year's program that pitted 20 Challengers against each other on an autocross course using identical Fiat 500 Abarths fitted with General Tire G-Max as-03 high performance rubber. Sixty autocross runs later, Ed Malle claimed top honors and a free set of General Tires.
As evening fell, Challengers 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, again proved to be top dog in the drags, pulling off a 10.776 time in his 1980 Pontiac Sunbird. Ed Malle followed up again with a quality second-place finish thanks to an 11.031 quarter-mile. Team Gutty managed an impressive 13.115 with their turbocharged Honda powerplant.
With just the concours segment to go, it looked like the event was Ed Malle's to lose. However, Team Gutty gave him a run for his money, posting the first-ever perfect concours score across all judges—read this article to understand why. In the end, Ed Malle squeaked through as the $2014 Challenge overall winner and claimed the top trophy, an oversized check for $2014 from eBay Motors and a fancy winner's jacket.
Another new addition to this year's event was the Last Chance Challenger Award, created to welcome cars purchased and prepared within 2 weeks of the event date. With a $1000 check on the line—courtesy eBay Motors, John Welsh and his personal DJ, Fina-T, flew down to Florida and picked up their Infinity Q45 on the way to the Challenge, complete with filigree badges. They managed to fend off a Toyota Echo as well as a Pontiac Fiero that had been built in the hotel parking lot the night before the Challenge.
Thanks to everyone for coming out and making this year's Grassroots Motorsports Challenge one of the best yet.
And thank you to our partners eBay Motors, General Tire, CRC Industries and Eastwood for making it possible.
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