Over the course of multiple events, battling neck and neck with one another, these three drivers successfully landed in the top three spots. As fierce rivals, they hold nothing back when on track, but the moment they head back to the pits to let their cars cool down, all three, along with the rest of the competitors, remain friendly, lighthearted, and more than willing to share tricks and tips on how to improve lap times. It's a stark contrast, not unfamiliar to track junkies worldwide, and these three are no different. .
Here's a closer look at the winners of the 2013 HT Cup Challenge ...
Jason Kim's '07 S2000 - 1st Place
The Champ Is Here...
Taking home HT Cup top honors for 2013
Five laps of heated action strewn across Chuckwalla Valley Raceway during the HT Cup Finals last year resulted in one man walking away with First Place honors—a young driver by the name of Jason Kim. If you glance at Jason's engine modifications, it might look a bit sparse, and that's no accident. A few carefully selected parts applied to an incredibly stout chassis combined with an ever-developing driver who seems to be getting into his groove makes for a potent combination on track.
In 2007, Jason took the keys to his first Honda, a '94 Integra LS, and like so many before him, he was in search of more power. "I contacted my buddy Steve Noh who referred me to Elton Lo at Raceline USA. Elton suggested we do a B18C1 motor swap." The idea of moving up to GS-R power is nothing new, but in hindsight, it may have been somewhat of a waste. Jason adds, "I got into an accident a week after the swap. I towed the car back to Raceline and salvaged what I could. A couple of years later I saved up and bought a '06 RSX Type S, and once again, I went to Raceline for all of my aftermarket needs." Wanting to exploit the RSX's attributes led to some impromptu "spirited" drives up one of SoCal's most infamous mountainsides with friends but eventually Jason realized public roads weren't the place to push a car's limits. He adds, "Several of our friends ended up crashing their cars, getting citations, and some even got their cars impounded."
While the street activities ceased, the itch to challenge himself and his car wasn't going anywhere, and in 2010, after being invited to attend a track day at Buttonwillow Raceway, he found his calling. "This being my very first time on a real racetrack, I was hooked by the first session. I truly enjoyed pushing my car to its fullest potential and pushing myself as well," he says. During that track event, a few new friends were made, one of which offered Jason a ride-along in an S2000. "I can honestly say that was the best moment ever, because from that moment forward, I was determined to buy an S2000 of my own. As soon as we left the hot pit and took the first corner (off-ramp), I was sold. A gruesome 10-15 minutes later we pulled back in to the hot pit, and I could not stop thinking about his car." Within a week, the RSX had been parted out and replaced with a '07 GPW S2000.
In stock, showroom condition the S2000 was taken to Buttonwillow for a "feeling out" process that left Jason hungry for more. Over the next few years coilovers and very basic bolt-ons were added as he attended as many track days as he could. During the first round of HT Cup Challenge 2013, Jason placed Sixth, and though he enjoyed the event, it was bittersweet. Knowing that he would need to make some changes in order to keep up with the others, he sold the parts he'd acquired in order to replace them with better versions. Eibach Multi-Pro R2 coilovers with 900-pound springs and Swift sway bars helped in the handling department, while the bolt-ons saw no more than a Buddy Club header, Spoon exhaust, and a proper tune by Raceline. The changes added up and his standing in the points race rapidly increased, placing him within the Top 3 entering the finals. During that big event, Jason was able to fight the pressure, hold off the others, and take home a First Place finish.
In preparing for the 2014 HT Cup Challenge, Jason's S2000 suffered a blown engine in late December. Though he scrambled to prep the car in time for the first battle, he simply ran out of time and missed the event. He says, "Once again I start in the back of the pack, but [I'm] still being optimistic. I'm getting my car ready for the next round of the HT Cup. Although this was a long journey, I'm still hopeful and very much excited to see what 2014 will bring. One thing is for certain, [I'll] never give up and keep pressing on. Thanks to everyone who's helped me along the way and for Honda Tuning for giving me this great experience. Hey, who knows, maybe I'll have another fighting chance at winning another HT Cup Challenge!"
First Place: 2013 HT Cup Challenge
Power: 207 whp/145 lb-ft of torque
Weight: 2,790 pounds
Note: A new engine, complete with Darton sleeves, was swapped into the AP2 the night before the photo shoot. Jason is once again set to do battle this season.
Bolts & Washers
Hondata FlashPro tuned by Raceline
Buddy Club header
Spoon N1 exhaust
Berk 63.5 test pipe
Spec Clutch Stage III
Spec Clutch flywheel
Kaaz 1.5-way differential
Eibach Multi-Pro R2 coilovers (Larry Luster spec)
Eibach 900-pound springs
Swift front/rear sway bars
DC Sports CS-1 front shock tower bar
Cusco 4-point rollbar with harness bar
J's Racing driveshaft spacers
RGS forged 4-piston calipers
RGS 330x28 front rotors
RGS Circuit Spec pads
Project Mu rear rotors
RGS stainless braided lines
ARP extended studs
Endless RF-650 brake fluid
Wheels & Tires
17x9 +65 Volk TE37
255/40-17 Maxxis RC-1
Continental Extreme DW (finals) 255/40-17
OEM CR lip
Voltex 1S wing
RGS wing brackets
Carbing Craft exhaust heat shield
OEM CR side markers
Recaro Profi SPG seat
Bride FX seat rail
Takata MPH 6-point harness
Mugen Gen. 3 steering wheel
Mugen steering boss
OEM FD2 shift knob
I'd like to thank my family, friends, and girlfriend for always being supportive. I'd also like to thank Elton, Alan, and Romeo from Raceline USA, Larry and Vanessa Luster, Joseph Bundalian from Track Monstarrs, Xuan and Tdo from Proven Motorsports, Matt Padilla from DCH Honda of Temecula, Will from DC Sports, Raymond and Lewis from J&R Auto, Danny from JDMZipties, Tom from Buddy Club, Tony Jackson from Eibach, Darton Sleeves, and anyone else I might have forgotten.
Sales & Marketing Director at Dukeun Jewelry
Honda HSV-010 GT
Inspiration For This Build
A reliable street/track car that can be competitive on track and still drive to work the next day.
Another S2000 and maybe a K-swapped ITR
Tony Jackson's '93 Civic DX - 2nd Place
The Number-One Contender
Jackson further establishes his track skills
When Tony Jackson picked up this EH hatchback from a good friend, he knew it would eventually end up being a weekend track car. Initially armed with an LS swap, the car served as a daily driver for the next two years while he slowly, methodically replaced various suspension parts and bushings in an attempt to bring the car up to safe standards before hitting the track. Working as a brand manager for Eibach Springs, Jackson is privy to all things suspension related for the Honda family, and jumped at the opportunity to test the company's new Multi-Pro R2 coilover kit. He adds, "I was curious to see how quick this car could be with the long LS gearing and lack of power without jumping straight into a B18C or K20A." And while his lap times improved and were quite impressive for such a simple, underpowered setup, Jackson admits that the process was painful and mentally taxing, but had also held a bright side in terms of driver development. "After owning/tracking my previous Hondas with well-sorted B18Cs, this completely changed my driving style and taught me to carry my speed around the track and focus on my lines," he says.
In 2012, after feeling that he'd reached the limits of both patience and the B18B's ability on track, Jackson sourced a complete B18C5 long-block and transmission to replace the non-VTEC mill. He recalls, "The Civic was transformed tremendously and I instantly dropped seconds off of my lap times the first time back out at the track. My goal then was to get the car into sub 2-minute lap time range without aero at Buttonwillow." In late 2012, Jackson reached his goal and since then, he's spent many a track day making minor tweaks to both his car and his driving to bring home even faster lap times. The only internal upgrades are CTR cams, Eibach valvesprings, and Port Flow headwork, while the bolt-ons consist of a Mugen DC2 intake, Power Pros header and a Buddy Club Spec II exhaust. A catalog of Eibach suspension goods reside under the Civic and with a long history of track days, Jackson is one of the most experienced drivers in the competition.
In 2013, he finished Second but there is a slight caveat to that. Being that his vehicle came in under weight, Jackson was penalized and had to start the final five-lap battle from the hot pit along with another vehicle. That gave the rest of the run group a significant head start, and Jackson knew he had to make up ground quickly in order to make the podium. Within a few laps he'd not only caught up, but blew by much of the pack and applied pressure to the front runner. In the end, it wasn't enough to surpass Jason Kim's S2000, but a valiant effort nonetheless.
He says, "My future plans are to see how fast this car can get with the stock B18C5 internals before opening the engine up. I have no plans of going forced induction or K Series with this build and want to keep the Civic B Series from here on out to keep true to how Honda developed this chassis. I'm currently working on my E46 M3 to compete in Redline Time Attack and Bimmer Challenge. This is the next step I've been wanting to take as a driver and car enthusiast. Don't worry, I have no intentions of selling my Civic or getting 'out da game.'"
Best Lap: 1:58.2, Buttonwillow Raceway CW13
First Place 2012 HFF Challenge
Second Place (tied for First) 2013 HFF Challenge Super Modified Class
Second Place 2013 HT Cup Challenge
First Place 2013 Extreme Speed VTEC Challenge
Third Place 2013 FF Battle 5 Pro Street Class
Fourth Place 2013 Super Lap Battle Limited FF Class
Power: 180 whp
Weight: approx. 2,100 pounds
Note: The car was always driven to/from the track, but recently it's pulled double duty. Removing the wing and replacing the race exhaust and header with stock pieces, Jackson commutes to and from Eibach in his Civic. The transition to track mode is simple.
Bolts & Washers
Civic Type R cams
Port Flow Designs headwork
Power Pros header
Buddy Club Spec II exhaust
Buddy Club test pipe
Mugen DC2 intake
ITR intake arm
S2000 throttle body
USDM ITR transmission
Toda Racing 3-puck clutch
Toda Racing flywheel
Gear X 4.7 final drive
Gearspeed carbon synchros
P28 with Crome
Blackworks Racing radiator
Eibach Multi-Pro R2 coilovers
Eibach ERS springs
Eibach 26mm front sway bar
Eibach 25.4mm rear sway bar
Eibach adjustable front/rear control arms
Pro Car Innovations bronze/spherical bushings
Circuit Hero front shock tower bar
Beaks EG/DC SRK
Hawk DTC60 front pads
Hawk HP+ rear pads
DC2 1-inch master cylinder and booster
Earl's stainless lines
Wheels & Tires
15x8 +35 Volk TE37
225/45-15 Nitto NT-01
Continental Extreme DW (finals)
Eibach Pro spacers
GatorWraps custom vinyl wrap
Jared Reyes custom splitter/air dam
Pro Car Innovations rear race wing
Stack ST8100 cluster
AIM solo data logger
Mugen S1 bucket seat
Crow 5-point race harness
Personal Neo Grinta wheel
Mugen shift knob
My girlfriend, Caisie, for all her support and pushing me to do better and go faster; Brandon Mallough; Jared Reyes; Kevin at Riverside Honda; Alex, Fat Kid, and Kevin at Ballade Sports; Sheng, Katman, and Darryl at JHPUSA; Doug at Power Pros; Brian at Hasport; Edwin at Hawk Performance; Elton, Allen, and Matt at Raceline USA; Larry Luster and all the NHO Garage homies; Phong at Eibach (keep fighting!); Harry at Nitto Tires; Gil at Circuit Hero; Brian at Pro Car Innovations; Fred at Hella; Justin at Circuit Dreams; Danny at JDMZipties; Joseph at TrackMonstarrs; and everyone else at Eibach for helping me reach the goals I have for the car!
Brand Manager at Eibach Springs
I purchased my first Honda ('93 Integra) during my senior year of high school in 1997
Jay Valle's '99 Civic EX Sedan - 3rd Place
Under the Radar
The one they never saw coming ...
In a group of competitors piloting stripped-down, lightweight hatchbacks, Integras that bare the illustrious "R" insignia, and even rear-wheel-drive entries, a Civic sedan is probably the last car you'd expect to see at the top of the points race. But at the finals, after battling for five aggressive laps, Jay Valle and his K20 sedan were able to hold on for a Third Place finish. But the car wasn't always a contender; in fact, it started life as a family toting grocery getter in the factory Vogue Silver Metallic hue, powered by a boosted D16Y8 engine. "The idea to change paint and eventually get a bigger motor came after an accident that almost totaled the car. After it was fixed, a K20Z1 swap was in order after I failed to locate a B Series Type R swap which I'd had in a previous Civic of mine." If the car looks somewhat familiar, it might be because it graced the pages of Honda Tuning back in 2010 as a feature car.
Not unlike Jason Kim's story, Jay started his spirited driving sessions on the backroads of SoCal before ever stepping foot on the track. However, a chance encounter during the 2010 Eibach Honda Meet would change things drastically. He adds, "I was reunited with an old friend of mine who frequents Raceline USA and attends track days. After [trying] my first track event with the Raceline guys, I immediately realized that the racetracks are so much safer even though they're faster."
For the next few years Jay ran track days with Raceline and worked on his driving skills while accepting any and all advice from long-time track aficionados and forging new friendships along the way. Once he felt comfortable with his ability, he looked to his good friend Cyrus Martinez of Formula Drift fame and his experienced mechanic, Mac Crook, who has plenty of GT Series experience, to make a few upgrades. Mild modifications bring power numbers in at just under 200 whp, and although the sedan isn't the lightest car in the bunch, Jay has consistently remained at the top of the pack throughout 2013. As with any track regular, reliability is key and Jay and his friends have found a combination that stands up to constant high-rpm abuse and grants him enough power to parallel his driving skill and remain within the Top 3 during the points race. A basic intake and exhaust upgrade paired with a larger throttle body and intake manifold, as well as a new clutch and differential are all that are needed to generate enough power to motivate the sedan. Like the other competitors, suspension is where most of the effort was applied. An Integra GS-R subframe and sway bar is used up front, while a Suspension Techniques sway bar and subframe brace bring up the rear. Buddy Club coilovers intended for an RSX are fitted with 16k Swift Springs and Buddy Club camber kits help dial the suspension in for competition.
As the four doors would suggest, Jay is a family man with a loving wife and three sons and, while they consume the majority of his free time, they're supportive in his track endeavors and you can find this EX sedan on track regularly throughout the year. Along with more laps, more practice, and more fun, Jay adds, "The quest for faster lap times is unending and so is the development of this car, and myself as a driver. I probably have the least amount of horsepower for a K-swap and the least desirable chassis to be racing with, but it's very gratifying to know that I can keep up with the best of them."
Best Lap Time: 2:02.039, Buttonwillow CW13 (no aero)
Third Place HT Cup Challenge 2013
First Place Modified FWD Rd. 1 Redline Time Attack 2014
Power: 198 whp/143 lb-ft of torque
Weight: 2,540 pounds
Bolts & Washers
Hondata K-Pro management
Skunk2 intake manifold
Skunk2 70mm throttle body
K-Tuned 4-1 race header
VRS 2.5-inch exhaust
HKS air filter
K-Tuned micro filter
K-Tuned fuel regulator
K-Tuned center feed fuel rail
Walbro 255-lph fuel pump
MTec shift spring kit
Exedy stage 1 clutch
F1 chromoly flywheel
ATS 1-way metal clutch type LSD
Hasport 32mm K-swap axles
Mishimoto S14 radiator
Buddy Club RSX coilovers
Swift springs 16k
Integra GS-R subframe
Integra GS-R front sway bar
Suspension Techniques 21mm rear sway bar
Buddy Club camber kits front/rear
Suspension Techniques subframe brace
Benen front shock tower bar
Spoon Sports twin block calipers
Fast Brakes Spec R rotors
Project MU Club Racer front pads
Project MU Type HC rears
Earl's stainless lines
Wheels & Tires
15x8 +35 Volk TE37SL
Nitto NT01 225/45-15 R Comp
Continental Extreme DW (finals)
Lada Light Beige paint
Special Projects Motorsports front air dam/splitter
PCI 2D rear wing and brackets
Custom rear diffuser
Bride Zieg Low Max seats
Vision Ultra Low Down seat rails
Deist 5-point SFI harness
MOMO Mod8 wheel
Spoon Sports shift knob
Buddy Club short shifter
Autopower Race rollbar
I want to thank my very understanding wife, Michelle, and my three sons, Joven, Julian, and Jayden, for letting me do this. Thanks to my family, friends, and coworkers who support me, Finalspeed Garage, Racetune, Makspeed, Raceline USA, JW Racing, Team Topak Racing, Track Monstarrs, JDMZipties, JDMuph, TQPI, and all my Internet friends.
Inspiration For This Build
FF race cars and Touring cars
EJ6 hatchback race car