If there's one brand that epitomizes the modern-day Honda aftermarket, it's Spoon Sports. Sure, there are a handful of others that undoubtedly deserve their share of recognition, though very few carry the sort of folklore and unbridled fan enthusiasm that the Tokyo-based tuning house offers. Not convinced? Then you probably haven't attended an HDay event when the brand's president, Tatsuru Ichishima, stopped by for a visit and was all but mobbed with admiring fans. Or, if you're on the West Coast, this year's I Heart Honda event might've been your living proof.
In 2014, Spoon Sports USA put together an event to celebrate the brand at Auto Club Speedway, which included a track day, car show, and marketplace with vendors. The reception wasn't stellar, but that was then. For 2019, the group decided to give it another go at the Speedway and this time around, social media and word of mouth advertising made their way around the web and 24 hours before the gates were set to open, the event had registered approximately 300 cars along with multiple vendors. People were talking and the second attempt was poised to make its mark.
Arriving to the event around 7:30am meant you were surrounded by what appeared to be every FK8 Type R ever produced, as dozens lined up in organized rows and still more continued rolling in throughout the morning. Along with Honda's highest-level hot hatch were quite a few 2016-and-up Civic sedans, coupes, and non-R hatchbacks, once again proving just how strong the 10th gen. Civic movement really is.
The vendor corral included Titan 7 wheels, Spoon Sports (of course), Evasive Motorsports, HKS and Downstar Inc., among others. In the Spoon booth, Ichishima himself was on hand to meet hundreds of fans that just wanted a moment to shake his hand, snap a pic, or request that the icon autograph some Spoon product. With Michael Jordan-like presence, Spoon Sports' bossman remained extremely busy throughout the day, with a line of fans that never seemed to wane.
A group of Spoon cars that included their infamous center-seat converted, turbo FD Time Attack car and an S2000 fitted with the very controversial Spoon prototype hardtop were on display near the booth. At a few different points throughout the day, those cars were fired up and taken on track to put on a show for the crowd (unfortunately no pics as I was working as the event's traffic controller for most of the day).
If 2014's gathering was put together to test the waters, then this year's I Heart Honda event should serve as its official beginning with a bright future. Braving high winds followed by high temps courtesy of an unforgiving ball of fire overhead, attendees had no qualms about sticking it out throughout the afternoon, and most were asking when the next event would take place.
HKS has made great strides with its return to the U.S. and this FK8, featured earlier this year, has served them well, splitting time between SEMA display, Super Lap Battle, and numerous meets and shows.
Retired not long ago, this Spoon Sports FD, piloted by wheel ace Dai Yoshihara, features a center-seat conversion that we followed along with back in 2016. The built and boosted K-series under its hood once pulled the sedan around Buttonwillow at a pace that finally toppled a long-standing Unlimited FWD class record.
Sportcar Motion's Loi Song takes advantage of a photo op with Mr. Ichishima.
Since the U.S. never received a red variation of the DC2 Type R, the Loi Spec crew decided to make their version. Stripping a once yellow ITR down to its bare shell, the car's been repainted inside and out and currently wears red TE37s -though, that could change in the next 10 to 15 minutes knowing this group.
Another Loi Spec-built ITR, this one surprisingly sporting Mugen MF10 rather than the group's signature TE37s. A First Molding front lip and aggressive splitter bully oncoming air.
The 10th gen. Civic and 3rd gen. Integra crowds were out in full force, but that's not to say that the older models weren't well represented: this red ED hatch that we featured last year, and this CRX, with roots in the iconic SoCal Cyber Racing family, made sure of it.
From the same era, this DA9 and DB2 Integra duo were on hand to make sure you didn't forget about the sporty, second-generation Acura icon.
You've seen more than enough white Integras with K-series swaps, but we're pretty sure you haven't seen too many, if any, that carry a legitimate California Bureau of Automotive Repair (B.A.R.) sticker. For those outside of California, the process of legalizing a swap requires that the engine be the same year of the vehicle or newer and that it retain all of the factory emissions equipment. The testing is stringent, nerve-wracking, and very few take the steps to make it happen. With a return-less fuel system like the RSX, it's even tougher. This owner asked the right questions, did the research, and in the end, grafted portions of an RSX rear to his DC Integra to make it all work, and now proudly carries a street-legal swap. Not an easy feat in these parts.
S2000s could be found in every portion of the show.
Honda's fun-loving, high-revving 2-seater has always been a popular choice for street, track, and show builds—some opting to take part in all of the above.