A Real-World R&D Showcase | Performance Racing Industry
A Real-World R&D Showcase
By Mike Copeland on October 30, 2015

Because the OPTIMA Batteries’ Search for the Ultimate Street Car is a street performance car-based series, it is the perfect venue for Lingenfelter Performance Engineering to showcase the performance parts we build. Participants encounter the whole gamut of driving situations, from high-speed runs on major race tracks, to autocross tracks, as well as regular public highways.

As this series has grown, so has the requirement for more horsepower. When Lingenfelter started in the OPTIMA series as a sponsor four years ago, many of the cars had 350-450 horsepower. Today, the standard power in the top cars is in the 700 hp range. These cars are primarily running naturally aspirated engines, and this demanding driving environment creates an excellent test bed to evaluate the design and engineering of Lingenfelter’s street performance components.

Another facet of our OPTIMA involvement is that four years ago we were the only Lingenfelter-equipped car in the series. Now, over 20 percent of the field uses our components or engines because of the reliable performance they deliver.

Dependability is really important to OPTIMA drivers, since they are not professional racers, but instead are racing as a hobby. This means they need an engine they can count on for many years, since they don’t have the luxury of rebuilding their engines between races, and don’t have a trailer full of spare engines and spare parts. To stay competitive, drivers need to know their engine can withstand years of use at 7000-plus rpm, and only the best components can deliver on that.

We see Lingenfelter customers who race virtually every weekend all year and never have to update. In fact, we have customers that have run our engines through every race weekend all year long for over two years without even taking a valve cover off the motor.

As part of our support of the OPTIMA series, we have a representative at every race—typically it is me, if I am available, and I really try to get to every event in the series. I am there to answer questions and to help people when they have issues, even if it is not one of our packages. We are always happy to offer suggestions or guidance to help racers make their cars perform better.

In fact, we have been involved in OPTIMA for the past four years as a sponsor of the Design & Engineering Challenge, where we get to meet each and every participant and get to know their cars. 

And it’s been interesting to watch the growth in popularity of OPTIMA racing events. Take, for instance, a recent (October 10–11) Fontana event, where OPTIMA had more than 90 entrants for just 75 spots, with over a dozen people on a waiting list to get in. We’ve also learned that the OPTIMA Series broadcast on MAVTV was the network’s most-watched programming last year.
Mike Copeland is vice president and general manager at Michigan-based Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, where he oversees growth and development of all company entities, including operations at the Brighton, Michigan, corporate headquarters, all facets of the company’s performance tuning activity in Decatur, Indiana, and Wixom, Michigan, and performance parts warehousing and distribution operations at the Lingenfelter Global Distribution Center in Brighton, among other duties. Prior to joining Lingenfelter, Copeland worked at General Motors for more than 25 years, where his primary role was project manager for the GM Performance Division.

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Mike Copeland is vice present and general manager at Michigan-based Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, where he oversees growth and development of all company entities. He previously served as project manager for General Motors’ Performance Division.
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