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1988 Honda CRX Si - SOHC Tank

Keeping the "street" in the SFWD class

Jun 26, 2013

10.90 @ 118mph

A casual trip to the grocery store and something out of the corner of your eye demands your immediate attention. Sure, your trained ear can pick up on a modified Honda from a mile away, but this has you wondering if what you're seeing is real or a figment of your sleep-deprived imagination. No way in hell is there a loud, obnoxious CRX, fully engulfed in more vinyl livery than a NASCAR superstar, sprinting down the police-infested surface streets of sunny Southern California. At a stoplight, closer inspection reveals gleaming gold Weld Racing wheels wrapped in some serious meat up front and, of all things, a set of skinnies perched in the rear. No signs of a rear facing exhaust, but you notice a few fuel components tucked neatly under the rear of the lightweight legend. A sweet aroma in the air signals two immediate theories, depending on your experience and background with the automotive aftermarket industry. For those not quite sure what they're looking at, drawn in only by the sound and massive "Whitfield Racing" stickers, they quickly conjure up thoughts of grape bubble gum or perhaps a broken bottle of Robitussin spilled somewhere close by. The other, much smaller group of hard-core enthusiasts who catch a whiff of the fumes that billow from the hood of Michael Lara's (aka "Tank") '88 Si know exactly what that distinct scent represents: FTW Racing Fuels.

01 1988 honda CRX si jojo callos 3 piece front end Photo 2/17   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - SOHC Tank

Years ago, Lara purchased his CRX in very respectable condition; completely stock, with OEM everything. A D16A6 with excellent compression and no signs of smoke, even with over 280,000 miles under its belt, assured him this was too good to pass up. Minor modifications started right away with an emphasis on weight reduction due to the fact that Lara didn't expect to make a ton of power. Thoughts of building a ZC engine in naturally aspirated form were delayed when Lara showed the car to a friend. He adds, "My friend Drew Barrett checked out the car and suggested I turbocharge it. I'd never really thought about it, but I remembered all of the horror stories about blowing engines, maintenance, etc., and I didn't want to go that route."

Though his mind was seemingly made up, Lara decided to at least look at all of his options, and he met up with Drew again to voice his concerns. "He just laughed and said it's not that bad. We came up with a game plan, and at the time, he was working for XS Engineering and was able to gather some parts to get a turbo kit going." Using a T25 from a Nissan to exploit the small powerband of the D16A6, a kit was pieced together and installed on the 280K-plus engine and fired right up. He states, "It idled fine but was popping and jerking like crazy while driving. I was good friends with Kevin Valdez, the Whitfield Mfg. dyno tuner and explained the issues I was facing, and he told me to bring it to him for a tuning session. It was a big thing for me as I was eager to get the car running right." The dyno experience was a positive one, with Valdez able to eliminate the hiccups and pull out an admirable 183 whp at a mere 7 psi. While there, a tall individual appeared from the back of the shop and glanced over the car. Without a single word, he nodded, and walked right back inside the garage.

Months went by and Lara was a happy man. His high-mileage single slammer wasn't breaking dynos, but it was running well. So well in fact that some "extracurricular" street activities proved to be quite successful. However, having the ability to increase boost levels with just the flick of the wrist can be addictive. Lara adds, "Anyone with a turbo setup knows that after a while, the car doesn't seem fast enough anymore and a boost controller is just waiting to be turned up. That's exactly what I did and the car ran good...for a while. Then I heard a slight knock and, sure enough, my D16A6 had finally given in."

07 1988 honda CRX si bosch 044 fuel pump Photo 6/17   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - SOHC Tank

Down but not out, Lara picked up a new powerplant, this time a D16Z6 that he'd purchased from Ruthless Racing. A GT2871R snail was mated to the 1.6L, and again, he paid a visit to Whitfield Mfg. for a dyno session. That same tall guy from the previous visit emerged from the garage once again, but this time he spoke. "He asked me why I was running that turbo, and I told him the motor didn't have enough displacement to push a bigger one, so I chose it to reduce lag. Then he just nodded and walked away again." Leaving the dyno with over 250 whp, things were looking good for Lara, at least for the time being. After some more seat time, he once again reached for the boost controller and, not long after, the slight rod knock experience was skipped completely, and instead a rod was launched through the block.

Wanting to get serious with his build, another trip to Whitfield's garage was in order. "I went to the shop and ran into that same tall guy and realized that was Jason Whitfield himself that I'd seen during those dyno sessions. He asked me what I planned on doing, and I told him what I wanted. From there, he just started giving me all of his insight. I came by the shop for a few days in a row to go over more plans. The crazy part is, I was sitting in his office looking at all of the magazines, realizing the cars featured were actually his masterpieces! Jason took me under his wing and we began the new project."

While mid-200hp stints with a stock D series is certainly respectable, serious power would require some additional support, like RS Machine sleeves, Arias pistons, and Eagle rods for a rock-solid bottom end. Up top, Web Cams and Supertech are the unsung heroes, while Whitfield's very own top-mount exhaust manifold, 3-inch downpipe, and a Comp Turbo T3 (CT5858) handle the inhale/exhale.

09 1988 honda CRX si witfield turbo manifolds Photo 7/17   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - SOHC Tank

Lara's personal best thus far is a 10.9 at 126, however that run was powered by a more conservative tune that netted just over 400 whp. Further tuning and development at the hands of the Whitfield Mfg. crew combined with FTW Racing Fuels has packed on some serious muscle-now spinning the rollers to over 620 whp with a healthy 463 lb-ft torque.

While it's considered a purpose-built drag car by most accounts, Michael Lara makes no qualms about regularly strolling down his local roads. If you're in SoCal and happen to stumble across a bright, loud, Whitfield sticker-clad CRX on the road, do yourself a favor, don't throw a rev-you'll regret it.

Bolts & Washers

Neptune EMS
RS Machine sleeves
Arias pistons 9.5:1
Eagle rods, big bolt
Micropolished crank
Web Cams Level X camshaft
Supertech valvesprings
Supertech retainers
Comp Turbo T3 CT5858
Skunk2 intake manifold
Blackworks 68mm throttle body
Whitfield Mfg. intercooler piping
XS Engineering intercooler
TiAL blow-off valve
Whitfield Mfg. top-mount turbo manifold
Whitfield Mfg. 3-inch downpipe
Dual 38mm TiAL wastegates
Whitfield Mfg. sump
Dual Bosch 044 fuel pumps
Injector Clinic 2,150cc injectors
AEM fuel rail
Aeromotive FPR
Aeromotive inline fuel filter
MSD wires
MSD 6A ignition box
MSD blaster coil
MSD cap and rotor
FTW Race Fuels
Induction Products front mount
'88 CRX Si transmission
Prothane shifter bushings
Clutchmasters FX-500
Clutchmasters flywheel
Custom two-row aluminum radiator
Hondata boost solenoid

06 1988 honda CRX si D16Z6 Photo 11/17   |   Lara relies on a built and boosted D16Z6 packing a 600+ whp punch.

622 whp and 463 lb-ft torque

Blox Racing drag coilovers
Prothane bushings
Innovative traction bar

'91 CRX Si calipers
Hawk pads
Brembo cross-drilled/slotted rotors
Wilwood high-temp 570 fluid
Wilwood steel braided lines
CNC line lock with proportioning valve

Wheels & Tires
Weld Magnum Import Drag wheels

Street setup:
Front: 15x8 with 5-inch backspacing, Falken Ziex 225/50-15; or Konig Roller 16x8, Falken Azenis RT-615K 205/45-16
Rear: 15x3.5 with 1.13-inch backspacing, M&H skinnies 22x3.5 R15

Race setup:
Front: 13x9 with 5-inch backspacing, M&H slicks 25x8.7 R13
Rear: 15x3.5 with 1.13-inch backspacing, M&H skinnies 22x3.5 R15

12 1988 honda CRX si sparco veloce steering wheel Photo 15/17   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - SOHC Tank

Jojo Callos 3-piece front end
VIS carbon-fiber hood
VIS carbon-fiber trunk
VIS carbon-fiber mirrors
Custom sunroof delete
Golden Eagle rear diffuser
Whitfield Mfg. hood spacers
Vinyl wrap by Anthony of Getmore Products

Whitfield Mfg. 10-pt rollcage
Tweed upholstered seats
Crow 5-pt harnesses
Sparco Veloce steering wheel

I'd like to thank my fiancee Bridgett for her continued support and motivation, my daughter Sarina for her wrench time and detailing of the car, my daughter Justine for the happiness she brings, Whitfield Mfg. staff, Jason Whitfield for his leadership and inspiration, Kevin Valdez for the dyno tuning and late-night datalogging, Jay C Garcia for the fab work, Ryan Carillo for all the wiring work, Anthony at Getmore for the vinyl work on the car, Nick Nuzzo for the transmission work, Drew Barrett for convincing me to give turbocharging a chance-now look where I am! Alliance 1320 for sticking with me and keeping the crew strong, Frog from B Series Racing for coming through when I needed parts, shout-out to Efiliated, Ruthless Racing, 2Down Street Team-all of your support is greatly appreciated. Lastly, I'd like to give a shout-out to everyone out there still sticking by the mighty D series, keep the SOHC alive!

Owner Specs

Daily grind
Store manager at Sprint

15 1988 honda CRX si golden eagle rear diffuser Photo 16/17   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - SOHC Tank

Favorite site

Screen name

Building Hondas
12 years

Dream car
This CRX. Never thought I'd get this far, but here I am.

Inspiration for this build
To go faster!

Future builds
Same car but more power-looking for that 9-second pass!

Fuel The World

In an industry chock full of storytellers and money takers, it's rare to find a product that not only works well, but carries as many heavy hitters that can vouch for its effectiveness as FTW's racing fuel. FTW Purple is essentially a no-nonsense E85 formulated specifically for forced-induction race engines. Heavily oxygenated, it carries a 120-octane rating and is currently used exclusively by a number of record-setting drag cars. Just about anything in the Honda performance world can be debated for hours, sometimes days, but it's tough to argue with the fastest Hondas in the world.

16 1988 honda CRX si FTW purple E85 Photo 17/17   |   1988 Honda CRX Si - SOHC Tank

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