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A guide to the DSM Shootout

Chance favors the prepared mind.

If you consider yourself a DSMer, then you need to attend the DSM Shootout while you still can. This itinerary is intended to give those who have never been � for whatever reason � an idea of how to prepare to attend the Shootout. Think the Shootout is too far away? Think it�s �Just a drag race event?� Think that only those with ten-second DSMs will have fun? Think again.

A little background information on the Shootout for those who still don�t know what we�re talking about: The Official Name is the Buschur Racing DSM/EVO Shootout. It happens in Norwalk, Ohio (an hour west of Cleveland), at Norwalk Raceway Park. 2007 marks the 15th year of the DSM Shootout, which started as a small group of DSMers in Dave Buschur�s backyard, organizing their own little drag race event. This small gathering of friends has evolved into an entire weekend of DSM excitement.

What follows is a sort of planning guide that I hope will help as many DSMers get to a Shootout as possible. This is intended to give you an idea of what things you need to be thinking about and when in order to make the Shootout something other than a 1000 mile road trip to over-priced hotels that you can�t afford or don�t see as being worth the money. Follow along and see how easy it can be if you do a little planning. I will put a Cliff�s Notes-style timeline at the end of this article for easy reference in the future.


Drive. For some, this is the best way to get to the Shootout. Then again, for some, the Shootout is an hour away by car. This article really isn�t for them, since they can come and go as they please. For those of us who live hundreds, even thousands of miles away, getting the DSM to the Shootout is quite an undertaking and requires a great degree of planning. Reliability issues and jokes about reliability issues aside, your two biggest issues will be the cost of the drive and the time it takes to get there.


Use a map service like Google Maps to find the distance from your home to Norwalk. Now multiply that number by two, since you have to drive back afterwards. The next step is to figure out your miles per gallon for highway driving. Keep in mind that you might have a passenger, a good deal of luggage, some tools, perhaps some spare parts, etc.. So don�t be too generous with your miles per gallon number, okay?

Be pessimistic when figuring your fuel requirement for the trip. If you don�t need the money for gas, you might be able to eat better (steak and shrimp?) and party better (import beer!) when in Norwalk. Always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Go ahead and round the final number of miles up to the nearest hundred or hundred and fifty to give a little padding for off-highway excursions like finding food or gas, and driving around the Norwalk area. Now divide that number by your highway miles per gallon. This will give you the number of gallons of gas you will need to buy to make the trip. Check around and come up with an average price of gas along the way, multiply that price by the number of gallons you just figured and you will have a good idea how much you will have to spend on gas to drive there and back.


Phoenix to Norwalk = 2,034 miles (per Google Maps)
My Talon easily gets 35mpg on the highway (typically more like 38).
Total trip distance = 4,068 miles, rounded to 4,200
Est. price of gas = $2.75/gallon

(4200/35) X 2.75 = 120 X 2.75 = $330.00 for gas.

Find friends/family/DSMers to crash with along the way to save on hotel expenses and to grow your caravan to the Shootout.

Now, you�ve got a route which is the shortest according to Google, but do you know anyone along that route who would let you crash at their house for free? Better yet, do you know anyone along that route who would let you crash at their house for free who is also a DSM owner who would join you on your trip in his own DSM the next morning? Look at that map again and figure out where your buddies live along the way. It might be worth revising the route. You might end up driving more miles, but if you can stay with friends/family along the way, you get a real place to sleep, a chance to shower, eat some real food, and you save a lot of money on hotel expenses.

Back to my example, I have DSM brothers in Clovis (NM) and Chicago (IL). I�ve also got family in Kansas City (MO). I�m always trying to talk my buddy in Clovis into driving out to the Shootout with me, but if not, I know I can count on he and his wife to let me crash on their couch for a night so that I make it safely. Going through Kansas City, however, alters the route originally given by Google. Looking back, Google gave the shortest route as being 2,034 miles each way. Going through Kansas City like this brings the distance up to 2,201 each way. Rounding that up to 2,300 each way (4,600 miles round trip) brings my estimated gas cost to $361.42. For easy numbers, I�ll just budget $400 for gas.


We�re making progress and I assure you, you�re not reading this in vain. It will all click and you will see just how easy it is to plan when you have all the numbers in front of you. It�s just that describing it takes a lot of words!

Know your limits when it comes to how long you can drive non-stop. If your drive is more than ten hours, plan some sleep time into your budget

I�m pushing 30 years old. Back in my early 20�s I could pull about 18 hours of driving non-stop, before I felt I wasn�t safe on the road anymore. A recent trip back to Kansas City showed me that it�s now more like 10 hours at a stretch. You might get more miles out of yourself if you stop and catch an hour nap or two along the way. I tried this on my last trip to KC and managed 13 hours of drive time before I was cramped up and ready to call it a night.

With this in mind, I was figuring on driving to Clovis (NM) the first day. Making our way to Kansas City (MO) the second day, into Chicago (IL) the third day, and into Norwalk (OH) the fourth day. In order to get to Norwalk the Friday of the Shootout (and make it to the huge Chicago caravan that leaves for Norwalk every year on Friday morning), I would have to leave Phoenix the Tuesday before! Driving back with the same stops, leaving Monday after the Shootout would have me home by Thursday!

This brings up the biggest reason why, in three years, I�ve never had my Talon at the Shootout. It�s not so much the cost of the trip that gets me, but the cost of the trip when I have to budget in half a month�s pay to cover the bills when I get back from having to take half a month off work without pay (my company kind of blows). Not that my company is going to just let me take half a month off, paid or otherwise! So I�ve ended up flying the last three years. More on that later.

A co-driver can reduce drive time and help to split costs over the entire trip!

Google says my trip should take something like 30 hours of driving time. Well, that�s a day and a half. With a co-driver to help with driving duties, we could leave Thursday morning and still get to Norwalk Friday afternoon. While having another person and his/her stuff packed with you can lower your miles per gallon on the highway, you can also split the cost of gas along with the driving time. Reduced cost and reduced time? This might just be the way to go.

Don�t forget to budget for food along the way!

If you�re smart about things, you can usually get away with $20 per person per day on the road when driving. Don�t let the number fool you. Twenty isn�t much when you figure four stops for burgers/snacks and a couple Red Bulls to keep you going.

You don�t have to fly all the way to the Shootout.

Among 2GNT Shootout veterans, you will find the motto is �Get to the Shootout, we�ll take care of the rest.� You see, the DSM Shootout is more than just a drag race event in the middle-of-nowhere-Ohio. It�s the one event of the year for serious DSM owners to come together and have a good time. The people you talk to on your favorite DSM forum are people to contact when planning your Shootout trip.

There are no direct flights into Norwalk, so if you�re going to fly, figure out a major city in the region where you have DSMers making the drive and book your flight (well in advance to save money) to their town. Coordinate with them to pick you up and to share the costs along the way. As I mentioned earlier, I fly into Chicago the Thursday night before the Shootout. That Thursday night marks the first time in probably a year that those of us who meet in Chicago have seen each other. BIG PARTY.

Since I know a lot of DSMers who either live in Chicago or will be in Chicago that Thursday night, I coordinate with them in advance when I will be getting in. I�ve never been stranded at an airport and I�ve always had a place to stay. The next morning, a groggy, yet excited group of hungover DSMers climb back into thir DSMs to make the final drive across Indiana (where the caravan grows close to 20 DSMs) and into Toledo (OH), where we meet the huge caravan from Michigan, which makes our caravan something like 30 cars or more. It�s incredible. The point to make here is that, just because you couldn�t get your car to Norwalk doesn�t mean that you can�t be part of the caravan into town for the Shootout. If you can�t get all that time off work to drive, you can fly in and still get the best parts of the driving experience.


Coordinate roomies for your hotel stay at the Shootout.

There are something like four main hotels in Norwalk � Best Western, Amerihost, Econolodge,and the Norwalk Inn. Expect normal hotel rates to go out the window during the Shootout weekend. The DSM community invades Norwalk and they price things accordingly. Expect to pay somewhere around $150 per night for a room in town. Typically, the hotels will charge an additional five dollars or so per person per night, up to four people in a room, but if you can get four guys to split the room, you all stand to save substantially. If the room is $150 per night and you�re staying three nights, then three guys sharing the room would only pay for one night each - $150. Make sense?

When splitting a room with two or three other guys, try to bring your own sleeping bag, air mattress, and/or at least a pillow. In the full rooms, there�s a good chance you�ll spend some time on the floor under that window air conditioner and hotel floors are hard. This is the voice of experience talking.

Hotel rooms are less expensive outside of Norwalk.

No way in hell you�d pay that much to stay at Best Western in some little Ohio backwoods town? No worries. There are other towns in the area with hotels to consider. Staying at these other hotels tends to offer a lower price as well as a bit more peace and quiet at night, as most of the Norwalk hotels become major party centers on Friday and Saturday nights during the Shootout. Expect to save a third or so staying outside of town.

Some people will think that this puts them too far from the action, but I�ve stayed at three different hotels in Norwalk and have been to dinner with friends at Outback Steakhouse in Sandusky and, as someone who lives in Phoenix, I drive farther to work each way at home. Don�t be too quick to think something is too far away from Norwalk.

If you need to drink to have a good time and party at the Shootout, suck it up and get a room in Norwalk. You can party in the parking lot of your hotel, then crawl back to your room (it�s the cool thing to do as the sun is coming up). If you just can�t do the hotels at that cost, then make damn sure you have a designated driver back to your hotel. The police are ready to haul your ass downtown if you so much as step off hotel property with an open container. They will not mess around if you�re driving drunk. Besides, we don�t want a DSMer hurt or killed because of something stupid. Common sense. Use it.

Now that we�ve pretty much figured out how much the Shootout is going to cost us, how in the hell are we going to come up with all that money? The best advice I can give is to count the number of months between now and when you would need to leave for the Shootout and divide the total cost by the number of months.

My example:

$400 = Gas
$150 = Hotel
$200 = Food
$100 = Booze
$100 = Misc
$1000 total trip expense. Not bad!

So, as I�m writing this, it�s January and I�ve got about seven months to go until Shootout time. I need to save $142 a month to be able to make the drive this year (2007 Shootout in August). Chances are good that I�ll not be able to get the time off from work, as usual, but $350 for gas money is pretty much a plane ticket anyway.

All the math above was intended to give you a monthly figure that you need to save in order to make the Shootout happen for you. There is a lot of information up there that I hope will help you figure out the best way to go for yourself. I hope it helps.


Remember, while we are DSMers and, for this one weekend, we pretty much run the town of Norwalk, people do live there and call it home. Respect their property and community. Make a conscious effort to pick up after yourself and motivate your group to do the same. We�re not Soccer Hooligans who riot when their team loses. We�re DSMers and our reputation is to go fast with class. Having fun does not require destruction or mayhem. By our being mature about things, we do our part to help there be a Shootout next year.

There is a lot of drinking that goes on. It�s no secret, but here�s some other goings on in and around Norwalk during Shootout weekend�


Get to Norwalk, and check into hotel room. Meet up with friends not seen since last year. Have a few beers with the people in your caravan into town that you really didn�t get to talk to during the drive in. Some people do last minute repairs on their DSMs or wash them off at the local car wash. Friday night is usually the biggest party, since so many people haven�t seen each other in so long and we�re all excited that it�s officially Shootout time. After you�ve been to one Shootout, each time you make your way down US-250N, past Milan, and the tree-lined road snakes you and the caravan of DSMs onto the main drag in Norwalk, Milan Avenue, you will feel the excitement rising. Your pulse will quicken. Your breathing will get faster. You will get that feeling you had as a child waking up on Christmas morning.


Find an ATM or get cash back with a purchase somewhere so you have cash before going to the Buschur Shop. There is one ATM in the neighborhood and it�s usually out of cash my mid-morning, thanks to DSMers who forgot cash.

Starting early in the morning, the doors at Buschur Racing open for business. Some people buy go-fast goodies, others have their newly-purchased go-fast goodies installed, but the main event is the dyno running all day long at the far end of the building. The entire Buschur staff works their asses off to get as many cars on the rollers as possible in one day. There are average Joes making average numbers, but the highlights come when the heavy hitters roll up to show off. A crowd gathers down both sides of the ramp up to the garage door and the DSMs and EVOs roar like the beasts they are. Don�t let looks fool you, we�ve seen what look like monsters put down average numbers and sleepers rock the house in big ways. You never know what you�ll see. Cool thing is, anyone can sign up and show their stuff. 2006 even saw close to half a dozen turbo 2GNTers make the rollers. Granted, there were a lot of, um, tuning issues, to be handled, but at least you know that you can get your 2GNT on the dyno if you�ve brought it out to the shop.

Visit the vendor at the other end of the building to get your gnosh on! There�s usually a booth set up where you can source a grilled brat or burger and a tall cup of fresh-squeezed lemonade. Just remember, all this takes cash. Don�t forget to hit up that ATM back in town before you head to the shop.

Saturday isn�t all dyno pulls, though. This may by the main event, some showing off and final tuning before the race on Sunday, but behind Buschur�s shop is a grass lot where you�re likely to find a 100 DSMs parked in an impromptu car show. Walk around and check out the rides. Eclipse, Talon, Laser, Galant, Evo, Colt, Starion, and more can be found and most cars seen in this lot are packing a punch. In 2006, there was even a mint condition 1G TSi AWD with something like 30k miles on it there. Impressive!

Saturday night is the next big party night back in town. Remember to party responsibly and not make trouble for the rest of the community.


Bring cash to NRP. There is an ATM on site, but there is a fat fee to use it. Might have money in it, but it might be empty by the time you get there. Plan ahead.

This is the big day. The DSM/EVO Shootout gets underway early in the morning at Norwalk Raceway Park, just down the road from Buschur�s shop. The last three years in a row, it�s rained during the Shootout. Could this be the year the weather actually cooperates 100%? Show up and find out! Maybe John Shepherd will make an exhibition run or two. Maybe Brent Rau will too. Maybe there will be a showdown between two DSM powerhouse shops. Regardless, it�s DSM racing at it�s best and you will not be disappointed.

So you can watch the racing, or you can participate. Visit the Buschur Racing website for details on which class you would enter. You don�t need an AWD Quick 16 contender to run or even be competitive. Bracket racing offers any DSM owner a chance to show his or her skills at the staging lights. We might all come out for the party and the spectacle of hundreds of DSMs cruising a small, midwestern town, but the entire event is based on a race event. Remember that racing your car doesn�t mean you�ll break it. Everyone is encouraged to sign up and run. The more entrants there are, the better your odds of advancing in your class. Besides, even if you did break the DSM, you�re surrounded by hundreds of other DSMers. A 10mm wrench is never more than a couple feet away and most people will do all they can to help you out. People who have lost an engine have donated parts off their car to others who lost an axle. Shops have de-tuned their own car to be driven behind their trailer, where a DSMers car is riding back to the fort for repairs. We are all DSMers and we take care of our own. Like I said, make it to the Shootout. We�ll take care of the rest.

There is still a party atmosphere Sunday night, but it�s a bit less than the previous nights, since some people have already left and others know that it�s all pretty much over. It�s a good night to stay up late chilling with your friends and re-telling the stories of the weekend.


The DSM/EVO Shootout, while a sizeable investment for some, is one which will pay great dividends. Whether you go to race, dyno, or just hang out, there is something for every DSMer and a little planning can make it happen for you. The rest of us hope to see you there this year.


Document statistics: Last modified on 2007-01-12 15:19:19 by DR1665

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