The story is a little different from years past; eight cars are selected and one leaves the victor. For safe measure, nine cars were selected this year, all of which were well executed. The most impressive element this go-around was the presence of drag radials. Last year our "street tires only" rule was taken to heart and many of our competitors were rolling on "standard-fare" street radials. For 2009 many elected to use sticky rubber. This made it one of our closest years ever as just a few points separated most of the cars.
If you're not familiar with the True Street Challenge, it's quite simple, really. We select eight cars--nine this year--to meet us out in Las Vegas for the Mopars at the Strip event (MATS) to be judged in select categories. On the first day of the competition, we assemble each of the drivers in our reserved location and look over their cars. Once we have them all there, we take out our pens and score them in four "show" categories: paint, trim, overall body fit and finish, and interior fit and finish.
During our street cruise we...
During our street cruise we encountered a snag as the closest gas station didn't have premium gas. Our high compression competitors were out of luck so we had to reverse our route to locate higher-octane food.
After that, we take them out on the street to compile data for the "street" categories: interior appointments, functionality of all interior equipment, road manners, ride quality, and interior noise. To start things off we head over to a gas station and make our competitors fill up with pump gas. Then we bring the cars on a 22-mile cruise to make sure they are tame enough for street use. Finally, they have to make two hits at the track and we take their best elapsed time for scoring.
We had a few cars with power adders, and a handful with big cubes. All methods delivered excellent numbers at The Strip. The scores were so close that our top cars were all within a couple points. When the smoke cleared though, it was Rocky Audenried who nosed ahead with his 10-second '67 Dart to take the gold. His Dart ran the quickest time and offered some of the best on-road manners we have ever experienced in a true 10-second street car.