A decade ago, FF Battle was a dream. It was a vision from a past staff of Super Street to pit against one another the best all-around performing front-engine, front-wheel drive cars that could be "legally" driven from point-A to point-B without a trailer. And for their first attempt all those years ago, organizers made it an all-Honda contest, using the "roval" at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., to see specifically which power plant ruled the time attack roost—B-series or K-series. (Want to know how that first FF Battle went? Read about it here.)
Ten FF Battles later the machinery, the scenery, and most of the people have changed, but the challenge is largely the same. Obv it's still open to just FWD entries, with a preference toward more modestly built, DIY type cars—but these days instead of it being all Honda/Acura we get the occasional outlier (hell, a Fiat won last year); this year in FFB's Street Class, those would be Jack Thomas's 2017 Ford Focus ST and Dan Gardner/DG Spec's 2015 Toyota Sienna minivan (yes, seriously). While we've used Auto Club on and off sparingly since 2009, our main go-to ribbon of tarmac most years (including 2018) is Willow Springs International Motorsports Park's 1.6-mile, 14-turn Streets of Willow Springs road course. And for a glimpse of the old dudes who were around then and remain around now, look for Sportcar Motion's Loi Song and Raceline USA's Elton Lo in our separate Race Class coverage.
As far as what makes a Street Class car—all entries had to be driven by the registered owner of the vehicle, and engine and trans swaps were allowed. Factory glass windows were required, as were functioning headlights, taillights, and mirrors. Altering OEM suspension pickup points was not allowed, and cars were permitted to run only on unleaded gasoline (ethanol and special blends were a no-no). You had to have your stock exterior panels in place, as well as the forward part of the OEM interior; aero effects were limited to single-element components; and lastly tires were restricted to 200 (+) treadwear and a max width of 265.
It may be unavoidable at this point, but the bulk of the 13-car field for FFB10's Street Class was Honda, though we tried to add variety to the influx of Civic and Integra with Tony Jackson's TSX and Chris Arias's CRX. Additionally, only four of the chassis on track were built after 2014, Gardner's Sienna, Thomas's Focus ST, Nick Zambrano's 2017 Civic Si, and Street Class winner Steven Kronemberger's 2017 Civic Type R.
Somewhat ironically, Street Class's only competitor from outside of California ended up having his car destroyed shortly after arriving to the state. JT Teng was hauling his B18C1-swapped EH Civic DX from Texas and had some time before the event to cruise around SoCal; during his sightseeing excursion, he was involved in a freeway accident that ultimately disabled his car, which then led to a much gnarlier wreck just moments later that pretty much demolished his hatchback (as you can see in our photos). Had JT not had the wherewithal to escape the Civic when it was disabled, this story surely would have been much grimmer, but he did and we're all grateful things didn't take a turn for the worse.
2017 Honda Civic Type R
We were happy to have among FFB competitors both a new Honda Civic Type R and new Si (Nick Zambrano's), as mechanical engineer Kronemberger illustrated effectively the CTR's worth, taking his turbo K20C'ed machine to the top of the timesheet with a quick lap that was a whopping 3.5 seconds faster than the next in class and just 0.4 of a second off the best time in the Race Class (cars that are generally faster than those in Street Class).
Kronemberger didn't do much to his FK8 before FFB10. To tap some additional ponies out the mill, Hondata loaded up a torque-ier base map into the ECU with its FlashPro, while Steven aided engine cooling with a GReddy oil cooler, PRL intercooler, and a front grille with more airflow. The car sticks better thanks to JRZ RS Pro coilovers, an Eibach rear anti-sway bar, and Bridgestone Potenza RE71R-shod Titan7 wheels, and also stops better with Girodisc two-piece brake rotors and Raybestos ST43 pads.
1997 Honda Civic CX (B18C engine swap)
Caputo's red hatch was the best of the rest, sporting under hood a fully built '98 spec-and-up B18C Type R engine and transaxle with LSD. A Koyo aluminum radiator, BattleCraft custom engine harness, 2.5-inch custom exhaust, Vibrant muffler, Innovative steel engine mounts, and Hondata S300 V2 support the motor, while an Exedy Stage 1 clutch facilitates the power transfer.
Suspension has been upgraded with Exceed SSD coilovers, Swift springs, and beefier stabilizer bars—a 26mm-diameter EK9 OEM version in front and 24mm ASR version in back—while brakes got made over with CR-V forward rotors and calipers, Integra rear rotors and calipers, and Project Mu Club Racer pads all around. The crazy staggered wheel setup on Michael's Civic is made up of 16x7-inch, +42 offset Volk TE37s in front with a 15mm spacer and 15x7, +30 Kosei K1 rims in back.
1991 Honda CRX (B18C engine swap)
We're gonna stick our neck out a bit and say Arias's car was arguably the crowd favorite at FFB10—such a clean execution, and for a car that's almost 30 years old! It certainly didn't move like an old car, due primarily to the rebuilt '96-spec JDM Type R B18C and gearbox swapped into the engine bay.
The CRX's athleticism was further enhanced with a laundry list of chassis mods that includes an Eibach Multi Pro R2 suspension; PCI front upper control arms, spherical rear trailing arm bushings, and rear camber kit; ASR anchor arms and 24mm diameter rear antiroll bar; and much more. Each corner of the Rex houses Wilwood DPHA brakes and Volk TE37SL 15x8-inch, +35 offset rims, but it's that exterior that drove everyone crazy; Arias says the look is made up of Deep Seban fender overlays; J's Racing front bumper and rear spoiler; Mugen rear spoiler; PCI side skirts and front splitter brackets; Tracklife fender cutouts; and custom air damn and carbon fiber hood vents with Professional Awesome Racing air ducts.
1997 Honda Civic (K24 engine swap)
With the JDM version of Honda's 2.4-liter K motivator in this hatch and a K24Z3 trans, Sandiego wheeled his sixth-gen. Civic to fourth in class. The EJ also features Tein Monoflex suspension; Hardrace front and rear camber arms, rear toe arms, and bushings; Integra Type R brake calipers; Hawk DTC 60 brake pads; Goodrich stainless steel brake lines; and 15x8-inch, +25 Volk Racing TE37V wheels.
2000 Honda Civic CX (B16B engine swap)
Finishing in fifth, Street Class's only female has a JDM B16B mill and built '98 and up-spec ITR transmission in the engine compartment of her hatch. It rides on Exceed SSD coilovers and Swift springs, and stops with Integra Type R front brake calipers, Mini Cooper front rotors, and EM1 Civic Si rear brakes.
2001 Acura Integra Type R
Kim is a regular at our events, and his ITR features JRZ RS1 and Swift Springs suspension, Project Mu brakes, and Volk TE37 wrapped in BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S rubber. The DC2 also sports a JDM front with HID lights and side marker lights, Spoon Sports front lip, and J's Racing air duct.
2015 Toyota Sienna
It's fair to say this was the oddball of the group—a family minivan prepped for the track. The build is expectedly a little bit of the usual (OS Giken LSD, Enkei RPF1 rollers), the unusual (Kaminari carbon-fiber hood—there's a brand we haven't seen in a minute), and the custom (DG-Spec one-off parts all over the family hauler).
2004 Acura TSX
Jackson's sedan has a custom set of Eibach Multi-Pro R2 coilovers, most bushings have been replaced, and Eibach adjustable camber arms front and rear. Its K24 is relatively stock with the exception of a Hondata re-flash, CT Engineering air box, and PLM header. Tony ditched the factory trans for the Euro Accord Type R (CL7) version, whish has a LSD and much closer gearing.
2017 Ford Focus ST
Thomas seemed to mainly stick to just a few key brands in assembling the field's only other non-Honda; for the power plant, that meant a full complement of Mountune bits like their intercooler and high-performance radiator and high-flow intake, as well as catch cans from Radium. Chassis bracing and traction enhancements came from TB Performance, the front splitter, side extensions, and rear diffuser from Rally Innovations, and the 5-door hatch rides on CKS Suspension race spec 2-way coilovers, 18x8.5-inch Bavar Racing BVR-02 wheels, and 225/40 17 Bridgestone RE-71R tires.
2017 Honda Civic Si
With such a new platform, Zambrano's mod list was on the light side compared to some others; a Hondata Flash-Pro custom tune, 27Won drop-in turbo, custom downpipe, and Injen intake, intercooler, and charge pipes all help wring the most out of the sedan's L15 heart. Zambrano also had installed a Seibon carbon hood, HKS coilovers, Wilwood big brake kit, and SSR GTX01 wheels at each corner.
1995 Honda Civic
Joe's EH chassis build (still with its single-cam D15B7!) is designed to show anybody with a little bit of mechanical ability and the desire to learn how to drive can time attack on the cheap. Most significant upgrades include the McLeod Tuner Series Street Supreme clutch (where Macasero works in Import Sales), the Progress Technology coilovers, and Falken Azenis RT615K tires.
1991 Honda Civic (ZC engine swap)
Posadas's ED hatch is tied with Arias's CRX as the oldest competitor on the grid, and is arguably equally unique. Exhibit A is the SOHC non-VTEC ZC engine swap sitting in the engine bay, converted to MPFI and modded with a DC Sports header, straight pipe, short-ram intake with velocity stack, and refreshed Synchrotech Si cable trans. Aero includes a VIS Chargespeed-style wing, CS-style front lip, and custom side skirts.
1995 Acura Integra RS (B18C engine swap)
The field's second DC2 boasts a Jackson Racing supercharger, RC injectors, AEM cold-air intake, and custom exhaust on its Hondata-managed B18. Buddyclub N+ coilovers and Skunk2 front and rear camber kits sharpen handling, and Lumague's wheels of choice for FFB10 were 16x7-inch, +42 offset Work Meister S1s.
|2018 FF Battle RESULTS - Streets of Willow Springs Calif.|
|1.||Steven Kronemberger||2017 Honda Civic Type R||1:23.842|
|2.||Michael Caputo||1997 Honda Civic CX||1:27.358|
|3.||Chris Arias||1991 Honda CRX||1:27.641|
|4.||Jose Sandiego||1997 Honda Civic||1:28.188|
|5.||Muoi Tran||2000 Honda Civic CX||1:28.193|
|6.||Jason Kim||2001 Acura Integra Type R||1:28.739|
|7.||Dan Gardner||2015 Toyota Sienna||1:28.862|
|8.||Tony Jackson||2004 Acura TSX||1:29.086|
|9.||Jack Thomas||2017 Ford Focus ST||1:29.849|
|10.||Nicolas Zambrano||2017 Honda Civic Si||1:34.339|
|11.||Joakim Macasero||1995 Honda Civic||1:34.965|
|12.||Jonathan Posadas||1991 Honda Civic||1:35.305|
|13.||Justin Lumague||1995 Acura Integra RS||1:42.938|