The C5 Corvette, one of the last performance cars with pop-up headlights to roam the Earth, is probably already on its way back up the depreciation curve as it matures from “old” to “classic,” but it’s still a lot of car for what one costs to own. With an abundant aftermarket and plenty of stock used examples still out there, this is a prime car to be looking at if you’re in the market for something to mod without spending a million bucks. This competition-winning Z06 in particular has me inspired to start looking for one myself.

  • Car: 2003 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Photog: Unknown (image owned by Optima Batteries, shared with permission)
  • Camera: Canon EOS R5

Of course, not all C5s look as fierce as this one. Jake Rozelle’s purple Z06 in this picture just won the 14th annual Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) presented by Advance Auto Parts a few weekends ago. A press release issued by Optima said: “Rozelle, an eight-time competitor, lost last year’s championship to Chris Ramey by a single point, but returned this season and won the 2021 title over Ramey by a single point.”

That release also included some background:

“The OUSCI event was first established following the 2007 SEMA Show after OPTIMA Batteries’ Director of Marketing, Cam Douglass, created an event to pit the cars on display at the show against each other to determine their overall street-worthiness and outright performance potential. Fourteen years later the event has become one of the most competitive street car racing series in the nation.”

There are five elements to the competition: The Lingenfelter Design and Engineering Challenge, Lucas Oil Road Rally, Peak Performance Challenge (Speed/Stop), QA1 Autocross, and the Falken Tire Road Course Time Trial. So to win, cars need to be well-rounded. At least, enough to work their way across those types of challenges.

From Mr. Rozelle: “Winning this trophy takes a lot of skill, takes a good car, and takes a little bit of luck… I’ve been working at this for eight seasons and I came so close last year, so to come back and win this year is huge. I work on this car more than anybody knows and to finally have it all come together means a lot.”

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