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Indy Brings It: Street Car Takeover 2017 Indianapolis

What do you get when a couple of car guys invite a bunch of other car guys to drag strips all across the country to race everything from daily drivers to dedicated drag cars head-to-head against others in their class in single elimination rounds for cash?

You get Street Car Takeover.

Check out all the photos from Street Car Takeover Indianapolis 2017!

When I first spoke with Justin Keith, the founder of Street Car Takeover and the owner of the sinister C7, he suggested that if I plan to attend one of his events, it had to be the one in Indianapolis. When I asked him why, out of all the SCT events throughout the year, I shouldn’t miss this one, his answer was simple:

“Indy brings it.”

Datsun and Corvette staging for the track

My roots in the auto world are deep in the street car scene. My first car in high school was a Mustang GT with a modest, but tastefully modified 4.6L that I worked on myself and raced at local tracks on the weekends. Although those days are long gone, I have a healthy appreciation for the modern street car scene here in SoCal. But when I got off that airplane in Indiana, I soon realized just how drastically different the street car scene was from my home state of California.

Muscle cars, trucks, imports, modern domestics, there was something for everyone.

Due to a relentless bout of rain on Thursday night, the entire event schedule was pushed back one day, but that didn’t seem to throw off the locals. Drag slicks, lopey cams, long tube headers, nitrous bottles and of course... bigass turbos. They seemed to be on every car I walked passed at the Twin Peaks restaurant parking lot during the Friday night meet and greet. Unless you think you’re somehow above the law, those modifications just don’t fly with the cops back in California. But this was the Midwest, a Mecca for American motorsports, and it was almost as if you wouldn’t get a spot in the parking lot unless you were putting down some serious numbers.

A fully build LS-swapped Camaro with a larger than life turbo strapped to it.

Speaking of serious numbers, Justin and the SCT crew arranged for a mobile dyno tech to bring his machine down to the Twin Peaks so attendees can see the numerical fruits of their labors. One impressive dyno run I caught was a Chevy Silverado with a fully built 5.3L V8 and twin turbos, putting down just over 800 hp to the Nitto NT555Rs, on pump gas and 7 pounds of boost. I later spoke with the owner, Jeremy, who said he was excited to see how his truck would fare on the track that weekend.

"Lil Blue" was big on power on the dyno at the Friday night meet

A pivotal member of the SCT team is co-founder Chase Lautenbach, who I had the pleasure of meeting on Friday night. Chase and I hit it off from the get-go, but what can you expect from a couple of car guys at a car meet? Chase brings years of experience in enthusiast based event planning to the table, and he's got a few sweet rides of his own, including a gorgeous Guards Red 911 GT3. He also brings tons of charisma and fun to the team, and Street Car Takeover wouldn't be possible without him. Chase and I share similar interests outside of cars, but being from two different parts of the country made it fun to compare the challenges we face within our hobbies. I challenged him to come out to the West Coast this winter to show him what our desert off-road season is all about, so we'll see if he makes it here. 

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Where there’s street car racing, 1320Video is sure to be nearby. The hugely popular YouTube channel and media outlet, best known for their coverage of street racing and track events, brought a full booth of merchandise to the event, and it seemed everyone was wearing a 1320Video hat or sweater. These guys were definitely in their element.

1320Video's booth

Car-guy celebrity and 1320Video team member Cleetus McFarland even made it to Indy with “Leroy,” his completely stripped C5 Corvette. Cleetus, whose real name is Garrett Mitchell, demonstrated the instant effect of nitrous oxide by shooting a direct shot from the bottle into Leroy’s intake on the mobile dyno, effectively increasing his baseline run of 386 horsepower to 466 horsepower with the spray alone. “Hell yeah, brother!” as Cleetus would say.

Day 2 and 3 of the Street Car Takeover at Indianapolis consisted of the fast stuff. Saturday at 3 p.m., the gates of the iconic Lucas Oil Raceway opened to let in fans and racers alike. Some people even drove hundreds of miles to attend the race. Rainclouds had given way to powerful winds sweeping across central Indiana, but otherwise it was a beautiful cool spring day full of sunshine.

Street Car Takeover booth

The pits were abuzz with cars prepping for their day on the track. I made my way to the Street Car Takeover booth, leaving my anemic rental Nissan Versa in between some tall trailers so as to not be seen exiting it. The booth was full of attendees checking in, buying event T-shirts and of course picking up Issue 11 of Driving Line Magazine with Justin’s C7 ‘Vette on the cover, which made its debut at this event.

Issue 11 of Driving Line magazine

With driver’s meetings, safety regulations, competition rules and tech inspections all done, it was time for racing. Domestics, imports, trucks, full-blown race cars — they all lined up to go head to head with worthy opponents. The elimination rules were simple: Lose a race, and you’re out.

Driver's meeting directed by Justin Keith

The beauty of Street Car Takeover is that there’s something for everyone. No prep racing, where the track is basically dusted off with no real preparation, makes for some wild passes down the strip. Other features of the event included drag racing, roll racing and grudge matches, where local racers settled their differences at the green light with their own cash on the line. Big daily cash payouts upwards of $3,000 for class winners kept everyone on their toes, but the competition remained respectful and peaceful. Handshakes and pats on the back were common after a race.

Two C6 Corvettes race down the drag strip

Growing up in SoCal as an auto enthusiast, I’ve been to my local drag strip plenty of times on street car nights. But Indy was a different animal. Only here can you watch a car roll into the parking lot off the highway and then have your jaw drop as it pulls wheelies down the strip an hour later. Don’t get me wrong; we have fast cars in California too. But the consistent performance and versatility of these cars blew me away. In hindsight, ear protection probably would have been a good idea, but something about that half-muted hearing on my way home from the drags put a smile on my face.

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Reluctantly, my high-octane weekend had come to an end, and it was time to say goodbye to my new friends at Street Car Takeover and 1320Video. It’s amazing how people from all over the country from all walks of life can instantly click over a shared passion, swapping car stories and their plans for the future. I really can’t wait to attend the next SCT event, because it’s the local fans that make it so great. Each city carries its own car culture around it. As I boarded my 6 a.m. flight back to California, I couldn’t help but feel I was leaving with a bit more than a few souvenirs and full SD cards; a piece of Indy was coming home with me.

The "tree" at Lucas Oil Raceway

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