At the circuit, heat can amplify the challenges of trying to lay down your fastest lap, of trying to record your best performance. Vehicle systems that themselves produce heat without Mother Nature's help and even those that don't can reach and exceed optimal operating temps faster, stay hot longer, and generally test the durability of parts. Track surfaces, typically hotter than ambient air temperatures sometimes by as much as 50 degrees F, can get slippery as tire grip is compromised with repeated cycling the more laps you put in. And let's not forget the drivers—even at a friendly time attack, like FF Battle, where there's an entire class of street cars with only limited mods, pilots are still having to live in a helmet for stretches at a time, and many are shutting off horsepower-robbing air conditioning (if they have it) in pursuit of that personal best.
Heat over 100 degrees is what entrants faced at the 2019 FF Battle Presented by ENEOS and SPEC Clutch. Now in its 11th edition, FFB returned to its long-running home of Streets of Willow Springs road course in Rosamond, Calif., for a fun day of time attack among selected competitors in a mostly Honda-leaning grid. Like we've done the last two years, we split the front engine, FWD roster into two distinct sub-categories, a Race class for more heavily modified, track-spec cars, and a Street class for those less hardcore—this article takes a look at the 16-car Street Class field and how it fared on Streets' undulating 14-turn, 1.5-mile track.
By the numbers, Street Class had representation from 14 Honda, 1 Toyota, and 1 Nissan, breaking down into 10 Civics (from 5th to 10th gen.) and 1 each 4th-gen. Prelude, GD3 Fit, Acura DC2 Integra, CL9 TSX, an E110 Corolla, and a B13 Sentra SE-R. In terms of power plants, we had 6 Honda B-series (most of those B20-based), 4 K24, 3 L15, and an H22; 1 blown 1.8L 2ZZ-GE; and the SE-R rocked an SR20. We had zero minivans this year (although that was in Race Class last year anyway, so... ), but arguably one of the most impressive stats to emerge from our little gathering was how tightly packed the field was; first and last places were separated by just 7.5 seconds, possibly the closest, most competitive FFB at Streets to date.
|2019 ENEOS / SPEC Clutch FF Battle—Street Class
Streets of Willow Springs, Rosamond, CA
|Muoi Tran||#17 2000 Honda Civic||1:25.749|
|Duane Bada||#01 1996 Honda Civic||1:26.299|
|Michael Hillo||#04 1998 Honda Civic||1:27.931|
|Nick Zambrano||#16 2017 Honda Civic Si||1:29.310|
|Chris Garay||#24 1994 Honda Prelude||1:29.461|
|Giovanni Solis||#08 1998 Toyota Corolla||1:29.804|
|Jose Zamora||#02 2015 Honda Civic Si||1:30.003|
|Meng Tea||#26 1995 Acura Integra||1:30.521|
|Joakim Macasero||#09 1995 Honda Civic DX||1:31.032|
|Juan Ramirez||#22 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R||1:31.709|
|Anthony Do||#13 2011 Honda Civic||1:31.718|
|Angel Pena||#25 2005 Acura TSX||1:32.003|
|Rodolfo Izquierdo||#03 2014 Honda Civic Si||1:32.243|
|Rocco Pedreira||#05 2008 Honda Fit||1:32.323|
|Vincent Melon||#14 2018 Honda Civic Si||1:32.640|
|Steve Wong||#29 1993 Honda Civic Si||1:33.249|
2019 FFB STREET CLASS WINNER
Muoi Tran, No. 17 2000 Honda Civic
Our fearless leader Rodrez recently told us a story of watching in-car video of Muoi at Buttonwillow Raceway and getting a little motion sick, not so much by what the car was doing but more because watching her quickly move through inputs in the driver's seat can get dizzying. She is fast, and in spite of dealing with a clearance issue at the start (there was a bit of rubbing in the front wheel wells that had to be sorted out), she came out ready to break hearts and damage egos, and did, recording the only lap into the 1:25s in this year's Street Class.
She had help; the barebones Civic she was in had a Sportcar Motion-built version of the B16B mill she ran last year. The engine now hosts a stroker setup, with LS crank and LS-spec K1 Technologies rods, Wiseco slugs, ACL race bearings, and BC stage 2 cams and valvetrain. There's no aero on the car, but she didn't need it; Muoi was flying.
Duane Bada, No. 01 1996 Honda Civic
The local Honda track-day scene knows Duane as the VTEC Club guy, or maybe the R Compound USA guy (that's his tire bidness), but we know him as the warm, cuddly fella who runs a lot of our track events of late. He's kind of a low-key dude, and when we asked him what's in his car he very modestly responded he had a B20B swap with "bolt-ons, suspension things, brake things, [and] tire things." All those things, and some pretty nifty driving, took him to second place, and if we're being honest, the combo of white TE37s on his Midori green hatch was arguably the best look of the day.
Michael Hillo, No. 04 1998 Honda Civic
Michael's "fun car" still has AC, power steering, and a working radio, and we're told it's quiet and comfortable on the road but pretty potent on track (and we think his time proves that). As far as modifications, all of the suspension has been refreshed and upgraded from Honda factory with product from HARDRACE, ASR, Koni, and Eibach. A B20B, non-VTEC engine is now the hatchback's beating heart, with basic bolt-ons outputting 125whp, backed by an Integra Type-R trans.
The interior is equipped with Recaro seats, Schroth harnesses, an Autopower rollbar, and Sparco steering wheel. The exterior features a very street friendly appearance, sporting some Gram Lights 57DR wheels wrapped in Yokohama AO52, a Civic Si front lip, and sick eBay "F1-Style" mirrors.
Nick Zambrano, No. 16 2017 Honda Civic Si
Nick and his Type R-killing Si were back and very nearly got on the podium (we mean, if we had a podium). A PRL turbo kit is the main power adder in the engine compartment, the boosted L15 managed with a Hondata FlashPro, and power is sent through a Clutchmasters FX400 clutch kit. Additional tweaks include HKS coilovers, Wilwood big brake kit up front, Seibon carbon hood, and Titan7 rims enrobed in Yokohama A052 rubber at the corners.
Chris Garay, No. 24 1994 Honda Prelude
Like Michael Hillo's Civic, Chris's Prelude has AC and power steering, even a clean, full interior, but the 4th-gen. also has a rare and somewhat desirable power plant between its front fenders, a JDM H22A swap with and OEM LSD trans. Chris opted for the 5th-gen. BB6 5-lug conversion for better wheel options, and the suspension has been worked over with parts like Tein Flex coilovers outfitted with Swift racing springs, Tanabe rear anti-roll bar, and an Innovative traction bar, just to mention a few. As for cosmetic and aero modifications, Chris has gone with a JDM front end and tail lights, JDM Azect front lip and eyelids, Mugen side skirts, and more recently an authentic Jun hood.
Giovanni Solis, No. 08 1998 Toyota Corolla
Dare we say Giovanni Solis's Corolla was the most outside-the-box entry we had in this year's Street Class field? Probably, considering most times people talk about tuning a Corolla they're referring to an AE86 (or maybe even the new Corolla!) If our research is right, Giovanni swapped in a supercharged 1.8L 2ZZ-GE, running a custom 2.5-inch exhaust with TRD muffler out the back and equipping the trans with a 1.5-way TRD LSD. Handling is dialed in with Cusco coilovers, Hotchkis stabilizer bars, Nagisa Auto Gacchiri bars, a TRD 3-point strut bar, rigid collars, SuperPro polyurethane bushings, and Nexen Sur4G tires, and braking is upgraded with a rear disc-brake conversion and Wilwood calipers. Plus, Giovanni's whip still also has AC and a full, lush interior.
Jose Zamora, No. 02 2015 Honda Civic Si
Jose mated up the K24 in the bay of his 9th-gen. sedan with a K-Tuned header and cat-back exhaust, then tuned it with KTuner's version 2 engine management. To get the ride just right, he installed a Godspeed MonoMAXX coilover suspension and RSB spherical camber arms, and these days the FB6 hangs on for dear life with a set of Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R stickies. Other mods include Brembo TL-S big brake kit, carbon fiber fenders, hood, and trunk lid, Recaro SPG seat, and Schroth Racing 6-point harness.
Meng Tea, No. 26 1995 Acura Integra
Apart from stalking Meng on Instagram (he's pretty snappy on a skateboard), he and his brother, Young, have been a permanent fixtures of the SS sphere for the last half decade or so, which is why his name might look a little familiar to some. This last year he's also branched out and began work on Sean Adriano's pit crew on the Formula DRIFT Pro 2 circuit, occasionally also crewing for Ken Gushi in Pro. Amid all his commitments (he has a fulltime job, too), Meng was able to break away and bring out his JDM-nosed DC2, the only one on the Street Class grid, and finished solidly mid-pack with the GReddy turbocharged-B20 he has under hood.
Joakim Macasero, No. 09 1995 Honda Civic DX
Joe is all heart. By his own admission he doesn't necessarily have the fastest car, or the nicest one, or the deepest pockets, but he more than anyone we know takes every opportunity and runs with it. In his email entry to this year's event, he makes clear he's looking for redemption after blowing the mill in his machine at 2018's FFB, and his appeal hit us right in the feels.
We love guys like Joe. He brought back his time-attack EH hatch, but this time the single-stick D15B7 that died gloriously last time was out in favor of a stouter DOHC B20Z. 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, and despite the heat he managed to finish right in the same ballpark as his personal best lap at Streets.
Juan Ramirez, No. 22 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R
This—you people need to do more of this, more builds like Juan's B13 Sentra SE-R, which was awesome to see in the pits, and even awesomer when he popped the hood. In the middle of the car's super clean bay sat a somewhat unicorn SR20VE pretty enough to show at JCCS.
The Neo VVL inline-4 sports SR16VE N1 cams and throttle body Wilson ported intake manifold, ASP header, and 3-in. custom exhaust, and is managed with a Nismotronic ECU; the power plant is bolted to a Nismo LSD-equipped 70V gearbox out of a B15. Setup improvements include Fortune Auto 510 coilovers with Swift springs, Progress front and rear stabilizer bars, Turbofx adjustable rear control arms, Ultra Racing fender braces, Cusco front strut tower brace, and Octotat triangulated rear strut brace, while brakes were augmented with Wilwood 11.75-in. Fast Brakes kit, G-loc front and rear pads, and stainless steel braided brake lines. JDM Nissan Sunny GT-S bumpers, side skirts, headlights, mirrors, and wing on the outsid,e and Momo steering wheel, Crow Enterprises harness, and Sparco Evo 2 US driver seat on the inside round out Juan's primo build.
Anthony Do, No. 13 2011 Honda Civic
Those eyes—something about an FD2 front-end converted 9th-gen. sedan just improves the car's snout by miles, and it's not even a JDM thing (well, maybe a little bit). To complement the improved face, Anthony made some nice selections for his Civic, including Advan RG II wheels and VIS's Mugen RR-Style carbon hood, with a set of Fortune Auto 510 coilovers onboard for the right stance. The engine gets help from a Hybrid Racing cold-air intake, Skunk 2 Alpha header, and 3-in. cat-back exhaust, and inside a Recaro Pole Position driver's seat holds Anthony in place through those lateral g's.
Angel Pena, No. 25 2005 Acura TSX
Who doesn't love a big ol' time-attack sedan? Not us, not since outfits like Spoon Sports and 5Zigen (and local dudes like Tony Jackson and Scott Dukeshire) showed us the way of the Accord Euro R/TSX. These cars are friggin' cool, and Angel's is made so with an RBC-version intake manifold, custom intake, Comptech headers, and Mugen exhaust for its Hondata FlashPro-tuned K24. Angel also sourced a Euro R transmission with OS Giken diff, and set up his CL9 with Tein Mono Sport coilovers, ASR 32mm hollow rear anti-sway bar, front and rear Hardrace camber kits with Spoon Sports rigid collar kit, and PCI front compliance bushings.
The brake system gets love by way of Fastline stainless lines and AP Racing front big brake kit, which sit behind either Volk ZE40 or WedSport TC105X wheels. Angel massaged the exterior with an Aspec lip kit, J's Racing rear wing, and Craft Square mirrors, and the cabin features upgrades like Recaro Pole Position seats with Schroth Racing 6-point harnesses and Mugen steering wheel.
Rodolfo Izquierdo, No. 03 2014 Honda Civic Si
Rodolfo is the project lead for SiriMoto over at ProCivic.com, in charge of product development, testing, and design of aftermarket parts primarily for the 9th- and 10th-gen. Civic markets. As such, his Si featured its product throughout, from performance parts such as a FlexFuel kit, big bore throttle body, thermal intake manifold gasket, spherical rear end links, steel braided brake lines, and a raft of chassis-stiffening braces and bars; to cosmetic and convenience bits like N1 heel plate, hood bug deflector, Baysavers engine bay washer kit, and more.
In addition to the SiriMoto gear, the K24 in the bay is turned up with an Injen cold-air intake, BuddyClub Racing Spec II exhaust, Skunk2 composite fuel rail, Marshall fuel pressure gauge, and Koyo rad with 1.3-bar Hyper radiator cap, while a Hondata FlashPro supervises the suck squish bang blow. Rodolfo's FB6 rides on D2 Racing RS coilovers and 17x9-in. Gram Lights 57CR wheels wrapped in 235/40/17 Federal 595RS-RR tires, tuning in alignment with Ingalls front camber bolts and Skunk2 rear camber arms, and tuning out body roll with a Progress 24mm-diameter rear anti-sway bar. A series of PRO Design exterior parts keep the Si slippery, and StopTech rotors and pads help rein in speeds.
Rocco Pedreira, No. 05 2008 Honda Fit
It's not about the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog—nothing exemplifies this expression more in Honda's North American lineup of the last 20 years than the first-gen. Fit. Rocco's NA 1.5L L-series happens to be a little scrapper, weaponized under hood with ported intake runners by Bad Guys, R18 throttle body on a 1-in. throttle body spacer, AFE stage 2 intake, DEI Reflect-a-gold tape on the intake system and manifold (to keep power-poaching temps at bay), Weapon-R race header, Megan Racing 2.25-in. mid-pipe, JSP Fab custom axle-back exhaust, and UR Racing crank and power steering pulleys. Through Fidanza 7-lb. flywheel and Exedy stage 1 clutch, power is sent to a gearbox upgraded with an M-Factory 4.687 final drive and Cusco 1.0-way LSD with custom plate package, and engine management is handled by a DarDan-tuned Hondata FlashPro.
Elements like Motion Control Suspension 2-way non-remote dampers, Swift 10K front, 12K rear coils with helper springs front and rear, Cusco pillow-ball top mounts, J's Racing roll adjusters, Progress rear anti-roll bar, and bracing from Ultra Racing, Cusco, and Nagisa help keep the GD3 planted on its Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R-wrapped 15x7-in. Volk RE-30s or 15x7.5-in. Konig Hypergrams. Braking is improved with Wilwood forged DPHA caliper kit, Winmax W4 pads and brake shoes, and Stoptech SS brake lines.
Vincent Melon, No. 14 2018 Honda Civic Si
Vincent augments the turbo liter and a half L15B7 in his 10th gen. with a raft of bits from his very own company, @27WON, including an all-new, untested prototype version of a drop-in turbocharger that's a step up from their already wildly popular W1drop-in kit. Vincent refers to it as the W "X" turbocharger and promised to continue testing in hellish conditions. He's also added 27WON's turbo-back exhaust, FMIC, and cold-air intake. He manages power via KTuner V2 and @AEMelectronics 22-channel Can Module and CD-5 Dash with data logger and lap timer, energy that's transmitted to the drivetrain through a Clutchmasters FX725 twin-disk clutch setup equipped with hydro throwout bearing. He rows through the gears with a full @Acuityinstruments short shift kit (like the one we have in our 10th gen. )
The Si is set up on Ground Control coil sleeves over OEM dampers, with front lower ball joints by SPC, rear camber arms from SPC and toe arms from Whiteline, and front and rear stabilizer bars and end links from Whiteline. A 27WON 330mm front big brake kit with race pads and Carbotech xp8 rear pads sit behind WedsSport SA-72R wide spec 17x9.5-in. rims shod in Falken Azenis RT615K+ 255/40/17 (200 treadwear) stickies.
Steve Wong, No. 29 1993 Honda Civic Si
Steve's hatch is kinda our dream build from a decade ago, starting with the foundation—not just a fifth-gen. shell but an EJ1 with front anti-sway bar and four-wheel disc brakes, two important tunable areas for anyone who likes to track their car. He swapped out the Si's native VTEC single-cam D-series with a classic B18C1 from the Integra GS-R for a big bump in power that is now routed through the transmission from a JDM 1996 Integra Type-R, which comes with an LSD from the factory. As one could reasonably expect, Steve's car is a screaming good time.