"It's too bloated." "Its wheels are too big." "It runs too hot." "It's a rolling blindspot." "Its vents are fake." "It looks like a Ford Focus made a bad decision with a Toyota Prius."
These are all criticisms we've heard of the 2017-and-up FK8 Honda Civic Type R. Some are warranted; others may be a little overzealous. But as of VTEC Club USA's most recent time-attack competition on the searing-hot tarmac of Chuckwalla Valley Raceway deep in the California desert, one thing is certain: The Civic Type R is king.
Of course, we've been told this for over a year now, ever since the all-new Civic Type R decimated the Nurburgring's FWD track record by nearly seven seconds (logging a blisteringly fast 7:43.80). It was voted the "Int'l Editor's Choice" car and "Overall Car of the Year" in 2017 among multinational panels of automotive experts, and Top Gear magazine dubbed it "Hot Hatch of the Year." We even dog-and-pony-showed it to some of the harshest critics in our own offices, and it didn't incur a single disapproving vote — Hot Rod guys, European Car guys, everyone. But we just had to witness one at the track for ourselves to be fully convinced.
Enter VTEC Club USA. For years they've been organizing full seasons of the country's best Honda-only time-attack competitions, but it wasn't until this latest round at Chuckwalla that a trio of the new Civic Type Rs entered the fray, and after a full day of time-attack battling among 80 assorted Honda vehicles in five groups, one (the no. 528 car, with Steven Kronenberger at the helm) emerged with the single fastest lap of the entire day: a 2:01.332. And it did it from within the A2 competition group — VTEC Club's second-most radical group, behind the unlimited-class Group A.
What this means is that a very mildly modified FK8 Civic Type R, with a full interior, A/C and all its factory amenities, went faster on a hot day than a bunch of more highly modified Civics, Integras, S2000s and more, many of them track-dedicated. Crazy.
Of course, this doesn't belittle the capabilities of any of the round's other VTEC Club machines or their drivers. There were plenty of impressive examples of both, and nearly all could be replicated (and upgraded, beat around a racetrack, and repaired) for much less coin than a new Type R's MSRP. At the top of that list was man that gave that Type R a run for its money all day long: Samuel Rothschild and his no. 521 Honda Challenge CRX, logging a 2:01.912 fastest lap to take second-fastest-overall honors, and the Group A class win.
Just behind him was Kronenberger's arch-rival in Group A2: second-place finisher Robin Roces and his no. 479 S2000 with a 2:03.131, followed impressively by John Cruz in the no. 174 "Goldy" eg Civic Hatch with a 2:04.651 — especially impressive from such a mild build!
Billy Jang ruled the Group N1 class all-S2000 podium with a 2:04.975 from his no. 369 S2000, just ahead of hardtopped rival Jason Woan in the no. 534 S2000, and Yukio Kishimoto in the no. 019 car.
Group N1's all-Civic podium saw multiple car and class-winner Jose Mejia take the top step with a 2:06.494 from an all-new EG hatch, just ahead of rising star Moui Tran and her (yes, her ... this is 2018, finally) EK hatch, and Andrew Munteanu in the no. 466 Civic
But possibly the upset of the weekend occurred when Group N2's (VTEC Club's um ... most "modest" class) Alan Jacquias belted out a 2:05.652 from behind the wheel of his no. 113, non-VTEC DC4 Acura Integra to not only take his class's win, but also run faster than any of the aforementioned N1 heads.
As always, the results were only part of the overall VTEC Club / Chuckwalla experience. This year's event included all the camping, camaraderie, sunset track walks, off-track jaunts, RC cars, leftover hamburger patties for breakfast (the nearest restaurant/retail outlet is a gas station 30 minutes away), bros-icing-bros, foregone showers, and lost wallets that go into any memorable VTEC Club Chuckwalla round.
That last one was a fate suffered by yours truly whilst hooning a Ruckus around the track, so if you happen to find my wallet on your next excursion to Chuckwalla, grab it and meet me at VTEC Club's next round at Buttonwillow on July 1st. I'll have an Ice and some cold burger patties for you, and maybe we can find someone to give you a ride in a new Type R.
Until then, check out our mega-gallery below and remember to follow Super Street for tons more, all year long.