Ground Up Takes On UMI Performance’s 7th Annual Cruise-In & Autocross Event
In the early morning of August 8th, 2018, members from the Ground Up team loaded up our truck and head west to 111 Mt Zion Road in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, the location of UMI’s new Motorsport Park. The compound formerly known as CNB Raceway Park is a 5/8th-mile asphalt oval track converted to a short road course used for the design, development, testing, and racing of UMI Performance, Inc suspension products.
CNB Raceway Park was acquired by UMI Performance in 2017 and the 2018 Cruise-In & Autocross marked the grand opening of the new facility. The event took place from August 10th-11th at UMI Motorsport park. August 10th was devoted to the autocross event and August 11th was both the cruise-in and autocross. All the proceeds from the event were donated to the ALS Foundation by UMI Performance making it a great event that was backed up by a better cause!
The Plant Tour
When we first arrived in central Pennsylvania about 4 and 1/2 hours into our drive, we were told to stop by the UMI manufacturing plant in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania before heading to the track. The Plant is conveniently located just 22 miles southeast of UMI Motorsport Park, making for a nice break from the long drive. Once we arrived at the Plant we were met by Ramey Womer, the performance engineer at UMI who graciously brought us on a short tour of their plant to see firsthand the processes that go into making UMI Performance products.
Walking through the door and onto the plant floor left us amazed by how clean, organized and streamlined their production line is. We started out in the area where the raw metal material came in and was prepped for the manufacturing process. It was a stunning surprise to find out that almost all the material used by UMI is refined right here in the USA and it didn’t stop there. In fact, almost everything inside the UMI plant is materials and products that are made in the USA.
Next, Ramey brought us through all the different stations that make up the assembly line at UMI. From the giant laser cutting machines that deal with the cutting/forming of the raw materials to the men and women who bend, weld, sandblast, powder-coat, inspect and pack the finished UMI products. The entire process is streamlined and products move right down the line until the products are cleaned, boxed, and loaded onto pallets ready to be shipped to Ground Up Inc. or many of their other vendors.
Lastly, Ramey brought us into the research and development wing of their plant, where he showed off some of the new test cars UMI’s building and products that we will see coming from UMI in the near future. This is also where we got to lay our eyes on the UMI 1973 Camaro Z/28 for the first time that’s currently being built by the UMI R&D team. Seeing this car was especially important to us as this is the first UMI car that Ground Up has had the opportunity to be involved with by supplying the Camaro with most of the sheet metal and interior products for the build. While the Camaro is still a way off from taking its first laps around UMI Motorsport Park, it was great to see the progress that the car has taken since the project started, and it was a great way for Ramey to end the plant tour.
The Night Before the Event
After concluding the Plant tour, we hopped back in the truck and followed Ramey up PA 322 to UMI Motorsport Park, where we laid eyes on the oval track compound for the first time. Our first impressions of the compound left a stunned look on our faces as we were mesmerized by all the progress that has been done to the track since its purchase by UMI. The infield had freshly laid roads that perfectly set up the track not only as a circle track but also as an autocross proving grounds.
During this time, we got a chance to walk the track and see how it was laid out for the main event taking place the following day (see image below).
After walking the track, we also got the chance to take a seat in UMI’s 1979 Monte Carlo Landau, dubbed the “Green Machine”, as we went around the track with Ramey behind the wheel.
The car roared down the straights and cut through corners putting UMI’s suspension to the test. Ride along experiences wasn’t limited to us, as Ramey and other members from the UMI staff offered ride alongs to all spectators during the event on Friday and Saturday. Watch the video below to experience what it was like in the passenger seat of the “Green Machine.”
Event Day was Upon Us
It was 8:30 am on Friday morning when 90+ cars taking part in the Autocross event fired up their engines in preparation for race day. After a short run down of the rules, track and weather conditions, a speech from UMI President Ryan Kirkwood, and a prayer, race day was set to begin. The racing activity started off with two of UMI’s professional drivers setting the time to beat around the track with runs under 42 seconds. Once these times were established, the real racing was set to begin.
By 9:00 am the air around UMI Motorsport Park was filled with the glorious smell of burning rubber, race fuel, and adrenaline. The 90+ cars were broken down into separate race groups that ran the track non-stop from 9am till 4pm. Each driver got to run the track at least 6 times during the day with average laps between 45-50 seconds (you can see a detailed list of track times below). Walking around the event, we were glad to hear that all the participants were happy with how the event was being run and didn’t hear as much as a single complaint from the drivers, some of which drove hundreds of miles to take part in the Autocross.
The racing went on without much of a delay, as out of the 90+ cars only 2 had issues on during the event. A 1970 Chevrolet El Camino, unfortunately, blew out its rear axle and one racer momentarily lost control at the finish line but still managed to save his run, the timing equipment, and his ability to race the rest of the day. Both incidents were handled quickly by the UMI team, keeping the races going in a timely manner.
During the day, the Ground Up team met up with some of our customers and checked out the cars that we in a way “helped” build. It’s always a great feeling for us to see some of our customer’s cars; to see what they have done with our parts in order to make it work for the needs of that driver really brings the entire process full circle. One customer we got the chance to talk with was Chris Rhinehart, who owns a 1970 Chevy Nova built from the Ground Up. Being able to not only see the car but also see Chris go around the track is what truly brings joy to us here at Ground Up. Chris also gave us the opportunity to hook his car up with our filming gear as it went around the track to provide you guys with some awesome event footage! You can watch this clip below.
At the end of the day, it was, unfortunately, time to pack up our stuff and head back east to Ground Up Inc. in Naugatuck, Connecticut. Having to leave was bittersweet for us as the event put on by UMI was so enjoyable it was hard to want to leave. We’d like to thank all the guys that made the UMI Cruise-In & Autocross possible and a special thanks to Ryan Kirkwood and Ramey Womer for making us feel right at home in Clearfield, Pennsylvania. If you couldn’t make the event this year, we highly recommend putting it on your list for next year. I know the team at Ground Up will be counting down the days until the 2019 Cruise-in & Autocross.