You may have heard of VTEC Club, since it's nearly impossible to be on any sort of social media without stumbling on photos of these Honda-exclusive track events. Alluring images of road courses dominated by Civics, Integras, Preludes, S2000s, NSXs and even Accords of all generations, competing for the fastest lap. If you aren't familiar with this series, allow us to bring you up to speed: VTEC Club originated as a casual time-attack style event operating in conjunction with Extreme Speed open track events. Roughly 18 months ago, the whole series underwent a major overhaul. Now in the midst of its second year under new management, attendance is at an all-time high, with over fifty cars competing in every event. April 16th marked the second round of the first season of 2016 (VTEC Club operates in a two season per year format) at Willow Springs International Raceway's "Big Willow" track. Known as the "Fastest Road in the West," this 2.5 mile long, 9-corner circuit has remained unchanged since its inaugural race in 1953. Featured in countless movies, television shows and even video games, it remains a staple of Southern California racing. VTEC Club proved itself worthwhile of the venue with its fair share of close competition, drama, and heartbreak in the young season.
Track conditions were not quite ideal, but pleasant, with a high of 75 degrees that day. Knowing this, the more experienced competitors took full advantage of the first session of the day, setting many of the class-winning times just minutes after the driver's meeting. Head of the VTEC Club committee, Duane "Baby D" Bada, took the top spot in the low-budget yet extremely competitive Group N2 class with a time of 1:40.413. This was accomplished in his SOHC ZC-powered ED Civic - not bad for the car's maiden voyage. Just three tenths of a second behind Baby D was second-place finisher Tomas Perez in his non-VTEC, B18-powered Integra, with a time of 1:40.785. Rounding out the last of the podium spots in N2 was Robert Choo of Chewerks in his D16Z6 powered EG Civic, mustering a 1:41.040 before spinning a rod bearing early in the day. This class alone goes to show how close the competition has become during VTEC Club, as first and third were separated by less than three quarters of a second!
In the Group N class, Amir Bentatou proved that the Nemo's Garage/Marvelous Tune NSX was the car to beat when the mid-engine legend set a new VTEC Club record with a blistering 1:32.899 in the first session of the day, a feat made even more impressive considering that this class does not allow for aerodynamic enhancements and is limited to street tires (Bentatou ran Nitto NT05s). This left the rest of the 22-car field scrambling to catch up, and when the smoke settled Sean Mulyantoo in his Chewerks S2000 found himself comfortably in second place with a time of 1:33.985. Mulyantoo had actually beat out Bentatou in the previous round and from watching them swap places on the podium, we look forward to following this not-so-bitter rivalry. Only time will tell who will reign victorious between these two fierce competitors. Alan Jaquias, also in an S2000, mustered a best time of 1:36.061 and claimed the third-place spot. Before you FF drivers lose hope of being competitive in Group N, a notable finish was Scott Dukeshire in his TSX, who came in less than a second behind Jaquias with a 1:36.831.
One of the largest upsets of the day occurred in Group A2, when newcomer Chris Elders beat out Matt Rojana for the top spot, ending Rojana's win streak that had spanned two seasons! Elders set a new VTEC Club record as well with a lightning quick 1:29.975 - a true testament to the S2000's track capabilities as well as Elders' driving skill. Rojana was not far off in the Ballade Sports S2000, clocking in an incredibly fast 1:30.770. Third place in Group A2 went to Dustin Dessero, in yet another S2000, with a time of 1:31.445. To put this into perspective, all three of these street tire S2000s set times faster than the C6 Z06 Corvette, Gallardo Superleggera, and Viper GTS around this track!
Finally, Group A - essentially an unlimited "anything goes" class which is just as bad-ass as it sounds; top honors went to Tom "Tom Attack" Liang, in his JHP USA K-series powered ED Civic, speaking volumes about the legendary Civic chassis as well as the amazing drivers committed to what some may call an outdated econo-box. Did we mention Liang also took fastest time of the day? You're reading that right; a naturally aspirated, uni-body Civic beat out everything else - how's that for a 25-year-old economy car! Second place went to Edo Stepanyan in a borrowed CRX with a time of 1:33.828; unfortunately he wasn't able to bring out his DA Integra for this round but we look forward to seeing this formidable machine battling it out with Tom Attack soon. Finally, taking third place in Group A was Alex Zhao in his surprisingly mild S2000 with a time of 1:36.001.
With yet another successful round in the books, VTEC Club only gains more momentum as Southern California's most popular Honda racing series. We will continue to cover each round here on Honda Tuning, so stay tuned!