I first met Scott Giles at a car show in downtown Cincinnati a few winters back. His jovial demeanor, encyclopedia-like knowledge of suspension components, affinity for good craft beer, and acute attention to all things automotive caused me to take a liking to him almost immediately. As we talked, we paid little heed to all of the gossamer, technologically laden, and blatantly modern automotive offerings scattered around us on the showroom floor. They held little interest to us, with Scott being particularly indifferent. Here was a guy who was a firmly devout, fire-breathing believer in an old-school chassis. The only reason he was at the show that day was to plug the local SCCA chapter. He kept grumbling to me about how modern cars were too heavy, and how manufacturers concentrate on power and technology instead of weight savings and stealth. After talking to Scott for about an hour, I finally told him who I was and who I wrote for as an automotive journalist. Realization sank in thicker than smoke off a drag car's slicks, and Scott suddenly got a mischievous look on his face. He looked around, leaned in, and whispered to me, "Honda Tuning, huh? Well shit man, you gotta see my wife's CRX."
So apparently Scott does the majority of the wrenching on the rustic beauty you see here, and his wife, Renee, does a lot of the racing. She trusts him with all of the R&D and fabrication, while he in turn trusts her to not put the car into the scrap yard. When I asked Scott why they opted to race such an "outdated" chassis, his response was both direct and rewarding at the same time. "If you have the time, energy, motivation, and skill, you can take a cheap, old car and make it as fast as almost anything out there. It's really rewarding and fun to do that ... and nothing beats old Hondas." I guess you are starting to see why I liked this guy so much. From here, Scott went on at great length about the accomplishments they have obtained with their oversized doorstop. "Renee has had Second and Third Place finishes at the SCCA Solo National Championships, is Southeast SCCA Solo Divisional Champion, and has had multiple divisional and regional SCCA Solo class wins with this car. Together we are the SCCA American Road Race of Champions Enduro Champions, have landed four SCCA Club Racing class wins, and recently we were awarded the Atlanta Region SCCA Rookie of the Year, as well as Atlanta Region SCCA Driver of Year." At that point Scott took a deep breath and then he continued, "I won us a Third Place finish at the SCCA Solo National Championships, was Southeast SCCA Solo Divisional Champion and three time Great Lakes SCCA Solo Divisional Champion. This car has also won me three SCCA Solo National Tour wins, the Ohio Governor's Cup (SCCA Solo), the crown as NASA East Coast Honda Challenge Champion and SCCA ITSpectacular Champion, as well as VIR 13 Hour Enduro class win as a team driver. Oh, and then there were 14 SCCA and NASA Club Racing wins that this car has made possible." Geez, these guys have been busy! So now that we know how much ass this trifecta of husband, wife, and CRX have kicked, I only had one remaining question: What makes this team so successful?
Well to start with, the Gruesome Twosome are experienced track day instructors for SCCA, NASA, BMWCCA and PCA sanctioned events. They are firm believers that data acquisition is overrated and that a true race car can be fine-tuned by "feel" alone. They know that in their line of racing, a mere touch of the brakes can ruin your big win, especially when an apex is pulling you toward the perfect exit speed. Scott and Renee know that getting better handling from an already lightweight chassis, and using a peppy little 130-whp powerplant makes it possible for them to snuff out the competition. Yeah, you heard right. 130 whp. After several in-depth interviews with this team of tarmac Tasmanian Devils, I can attest that this really is the right way of going about things. I have also seen this car and Renee's skills behind the wheel at the local track, and they destroyed the competition! The only thing that held its own against them was (surprise, surprise) a dented up old Civic hatchback with tons of suspension mods.
So on to the car itself, and every miniscule to massive mod that has been bolted onto its frame. Just to give you a heads up, this car only weighs 1,498 pounds, and is probably undergoing more liposuction as we speak. It has a 1.5L engine from 1986 that is home to all 130 horses, and 120 lbs-ft tq. There are obscure upgrades like OEM aluminum HF rear drum brakes, an OBD0 conversion with a completely one-off distributor, and micro-sized 13x6-inch Volk TE37s. There are also quite a few custom suspension upgrades worth noting on this car. At the forefront, Koni custom re-valved and shortened shocks, and Eibach coilovers respond to the majority of the handling. But outside of the obvious upgrades there are little things like custom caster/camber plates, chassis specific Delrin bushings, and a fully adjustable rear Panhard bar that helps make the already sharp handling of the CRX that more precise. And with an upgraded 1.25/1 HF steering rack quickener in place, this little monster truly corners like it is on rails.
I asked Scott about his modest powerband and if he was considering some serious power mods down the line. "To be completely honest with you, we really haven't found ourselves needing any more power. This car gets up to speed beautifully, it out handles anything on the track on any given day, and it is insanely reliable. And even when something does break, it is so simplistic that it can be easily fixed in no time flat." Scott did add that his collection of parts for this car have skyrocketed in recent years, because when something on a chassis that is this old and rare breaks, you can't just go down to the local auto store and order a new part. You have to source them from out of state, hit the junkyard with every spare moment you have, and keep a running list in the back of your mind as to what you need to be looking for next.
So what have we overlooked thus far? How about those custom-flared fiberglass wheel arches, the custom cam, unique exhaust, one-off engine mounts, and Mugen limited slip. That list alone lets you know that this car means business. And if you look closely, you will notice that there are quite a few components missing from the equation too. Things like sideview mirrors, headlights, door windows, a vacuum brake booster, and any plush interior amenities that are now nonexistent. All that is left is one lean, mean, ass-kicking machine.
Bolts & Washers
1.5L MPFI Si engine
Zdyne engine management
Valve seats by Meredith Race Engines
KMS titanium valve springs and retainers
Colt Cams custom regrind
Custom distributor adapter
Custom exhaust system
Magnaflow race muffler
Unorthodox aluminum crank
Unorthadox alternator pulleys
Custom solid motor mounts
Sunoco GT100 race fuel
Joe Gibbs XR3 Race Oil
'86 CRX Si transmission
Lightened stock flywheel (8lbs)
Koni custom shocks
Eibach race springs and coilovers
31mm torsion bars
Billet aluminum front camber/caster plates
Adjustable rear panhard bar
Custom delrin bushings
HF Steering rack with 1.25/1 steering quickener
Brembo rotors (front)
Larger OEM HF aluminum drums (rear)
Cobalt pads and shoes
Earl's stainless brake lines
Vacuum booster delete
Wheels & Tires
Volk TE37 13x6 +25
Hoosier radial slicks 215/570-13
Skunk2 lug nuts
Custom Honda/Volk hubcentric 10mm spacers (front)
Custom fiberglass flared fenders
Camo vinyl wrap and graphics by Signtech of Cincinnati
Bumper beams/lights/windows/mirrors removed
Momo suede steering wheel
40mm steering wheel spacer
Momo shift knob
Kirkey aluminum race seat with custom sliding mount
Autometer water temp and oil pressure gauges
A/C, Radio, Heater, and Blower delete
Blake Meredith for another top notch and reliable engine, Lee Grimes at KONI, and Jeff Speer at Hoosier for years of support. All of the Sports Car Club of America volunteers that make thousands of events happen so we can play with cars.
Renee-Chemical Engineer, Scott-Plant Manager
Red Menace / Catch 22
Building and Racing Hondas How Long
Grand Am GT Spec BMW M3. We can codrive!
Inspiration for the build
We just love old CRXs on fat, sticky tires
Nothing planned, we like this one!
The Semper Fi Fund is a non profit organization that collects funds to help Marines who have been injured in combat. Scott and Renee use their race car to help bring awareness to the charity, and they sure do get a lot of questions as well as support everywhere they go. From events, to gas stations, to rest stops when traveling with the car on the trailer, this car really attracts a lot of attention. For more information about the charity or if you're interested in donating to a great cause, please visit: semperfifund.org