Given the type of firepower that typically shows up to USCC - the 600bhp, all-wheel-drive kind - we're always impressed when that one brave soul enters his Honda. The simple act of showing up to USCC in a Honda takes balls and defiance that we can't help but admire, like Tank Man at Tiananmen Square under 25 pounds of boost.
But when we heard that this year's contending Honda was a 1989 CRX Si belonging to HASport's Brian Gillespie, our bemusement turned to intrigue. Gillespie, his brother Keith, and the rest of the HASport crew have a well-earned rep for putting engines where they don't belong, then forcing immoral amounts of air into their cylinders.
Application-specific billet engine mounts, shift linkages and wiring harnesses are HASport's bread and butter, but these guys would just as soon be remembered for bringing the Honda that kicked your ass.
If you watch the TV show Pinks, you've seen them do it once already. They've also owned just about everyone in their class with this car at time-attack events hosted by a magazine whose name escapes us.
In their USCC debut, HASport will run the CRX with a K24 bottom end, sleeved by AEBS to 2.5 liters, an RSX Type-S head topped with a Jackson Racing blower, and a 100-shot of nitrous. With tuning dialed in to standards befitting Geneva's finest watchmakers, Gillespie sees 500bhp as not an unrealistic goal.
We smile and nod politely, but privately wonder about Brian's smoking habits. Sure, 500bhp comes easy in a stout engine package like the K-Series, but can the little Rex make it through the competition without torque-steering itself to death, possibly taking its driver with it? Gillespie waves off our concerns. Torque-steer won't be an issue. He's spent months dialing in a sophisticated suspension with the guys at the Progress Group.
"I feel good about the road race event, even fuel economy," he says. "That car is just fast. We've beat a lot of all-wheel and rear-wheel-drive cars with it. We're just gonna have to get some good size rubber on there. Traction is the dominant problem with front-wheel-drive cars."
To that end, HASport will run the Falken Azenis RT-615, a near R-compound tire sized 255/40 up front, 255/45 in back.
Since this is his first trip to USCC, Gillespie doesn't hold out false hope. He's not writing off his team's chances, nor is he overextending them. "This will be like reconnaissance," he says. Coming up short on horsepower and two additional drive wheels, Gillespie figures he's a goner in the quarter-mile, nor will a gritty engine bay and rough interior win him many points with the car show judges.
But he also knows consistency is key. So, how do you plan to keep a 500bhp motor with forced induction and nitrous oxide in one piece? "It's a Honda. We just don't run it right on the edge. These engines, fully built, can handle a 200-shot of nitrous. The supercharger makes it easier and helps with reliability. Running a turbo, you have trouble, always breaking things."
Maybe USCC should offer a Keeping Things Real award. Our first nominee could be HASport's CRX. "I drive it about four or five times a week in the winter, four or five times a month in the summer," Gillespie says, referring to the extremes of Phoenix weather. "It's my daily driver that has just gotten more extreme and radical over time."
Editor's Note: If any front-drive team has a chance, it's the HASport crew. Their big motor/small car formula, with solid racing skills and a reputation for bulletproof engineering, should be interesting. At least it will be fun seeing who they take out.
Hasport's 1989 Honda CRX Si
Engine Code: K24A1Type: 2409cc in-line four, aluminium block and head,superchargedInternal mods: JE 11:1 pistons, Pauter forged rods, AEBS sleeved K20A2 head, Eibach double wound valvesprings, IPS intake and exhaust cams, K20A2 oil squirtersExternal mods: Jackson Racing supercharger and pulleys, AEM custom intake, DC headers, Hondata heat shield,Magnaflow 2.25-in. exhaust, 2006 Si radiatorEngine management mods: Hondata w/NOS
Layout: Transverse front engine, front-wheel driveDrivetrain Mods: Clutchmasters Stage-4 clutch and lightened flywheel, RSX Type-S transmission, Driveshaft Shop Stage-4 axles w/custom five-lug conversion
Front: Progress coilovers w/600lb/in springs, pivot bearing and strut rod kit, camber adjustersRear: Progress coilovers w/800 lb/in springs, 24mm full adjustable anti-roll bar, race bearing kit and polyurethane trailing arm bushings, toe-link and upper control arms
Front: 12.9-in. VW Corrado rotors, Wilwood four-pot calipers, Goodridge stainless steel lines, Hawk padsRear: 12-in. FastBrakes rotors, Integra Type-R two-pot calipers, Goodridge stainless steel lines, Hawk padswheels and tiresWheels: 17x8.5 (f), 17x7 (r), Enkei RPF01 Tires: 255/40R17 (f), 225/45R17 (r), Falken RT-615ExternalBody: Custom flares and splitter, fiberglass hood, APR wingInteriorSparco seats and harness, full race roll bar