Hotchkis TVS equipped 1970 Challenger wins vendor class in the autocross and finishes 4th out of 70 cars on the road course at Michigan’s Gingerman Raceway 

Photos by Hotchkis staff and Steve Chryssos 

On June 18th we unloaded our 1970 “E-Max” Challenger in Michigan for the Motor State Challenge, a three day event that included a car cruise, autocross and road course competition. Many of the fastest, most expensive and sophisticated pro-touring muscle cars completed in a battle for bragging rights and g-machine supremacy. Despite being outgunned by extremely high-dollar cars with nearly double the horsepower, we decided to represent the undersubscribed Mopar community and bring E-Max to the competition. When the smoke (and Midwestern rain) cleared, E-Max was the fastest car in the autocross vendor challenge and the fourth quickest on the 1.88 mile Gingerman Raceway road course – out of 70 cars! 

The event was sponsored by Motor State Distributing, Lane Automotive and Allstar Performance Products and was held in a variety of locations near scenic Lake Michigan. A Friday afternoon car cruise through the back roads of Harbor County and along the Lake Michigan shore, culminated with a delicious barbecue at Warren Dunes State Park. No sooner had the group settled down to plates of steaming hot BBQ Ribs, Chicken and Pulled Pork a Michigan park ranger drove by warning about a severe storm brewing. The locals quickly jumped into their freshly detailed muscle cars and hit the road. The rest of us, especially the Californians, waited to see the action which soon turned into an incredibly fierce storm (complete with black skies, lightning bolts and sideways rain) that can only be found in the Midwest in June. 

On Saturday the skies were clear and we were treated to perfect weather for road racing at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan. Talk about an excited and passionate group! We were thrilled to speak with the owners of some 70 truly incredible pro-touring machines. The quality of cars at this event was incredible, many of which were packing in excess of 500 horsepower with sophisticated, intricate suspension systems and seriously pumped up engines. Our factory test driver, Mark Hotchkis, drove E-Max hard on the course, and in the end the moderately modified Mopar finished 4th out of 70 with a 1:38.32 lap time. Considering the fact that E-Max has a relatively stock 340 with a Six Pack and weighs nearly 3,600 pounds, it is a true testament to both the Hotchkis bolt-on Total Vehicle Suspension system and the driver that we bested some truly incredible machines, including a variety of LS7 and LS9 powered four-link equipped Camaros. 

1.88 Mile Roadcourse Qualifying lap times for Motor State Challenge Quick 16 
1. Mark Stielow LS9 powered 69 Camaro 1:36.1 
2. Jeff Schwartz 1994 LS1 Ultima GT 1:36:4 
3. Brian Finch 600 HP 71 Camaro 1:37:1 
4. Mark Hotchkis 70 Challenger 1:38:32 
5. Kyle Tucker ‘70 DSE Camaro 1:38:37 
6. Phil Gerber Roadster Shop LS powered 70 Chevelle 1:38:37 
7. Charley Lillard LS powered 69 Camaro 1:39:0 

On Sunday, we wrapped up the event with an extended autocross that was laid out at Lake Michigan College and managed by the local SCCA chapter. This is the event where E-Max truly excelled, fresh off its overall Vendor class win at the GoodGuys Orange County Nationals. The car’s geometry corrected leaf springs and a-arms truly shone in this event, as the car stuck like glue and Mark managed to eek out a 1:34.37 lap time, besting Phil Gerber in the Roadster Shop 1970 Chevelle (1:34.38) and Kyle Tucker in the DSE Camaro (1:34.39). 

Autocross Challenge-Vendor Challenge 
1. Mark Hotchkis 70 Challenger 1.34.37 
2. Phil Gerber Roadster Shop 70 Chevelle 1.34.38 
3. Kyle Tucker 71 Camaro 1.34.39 

“What a terrific muscle car event!”, exclaimed John Hotchkis just after the awards ceremony. “We want to thank our friends at Motor State Distributing for hosting such a fantastic weekend.” said Hotchkis. After a long haul to Michigan we were ecstatic that our heavy Mopar with bolt-on suspension parts including performance leaf springs, torsion bars and a mild 340 small block not only held its own but actually dominated, besting most of the 600+ horsepower highly modified muscle cars. As we continue to refine E-Max through competitions like the Motor State Challenge, we apply what we learn to every Hotchkis Sport Suspension component. We can’t wait for next year’s Challenge!