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2005 Honda S2000 - Got Skills?

On the tarmac, talent trumps cash

Jonathan “JT” Thompson
Nov 11, 2013

Photography by JDMZIPTIES.com

Racing is by no means cheap. The money dedicated to buying, prepping, and maintaining a race car can be extravagant. Competitive wheel-to-wheel racing can hit your wallet even harder. Just look at the very roots--there's Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR, Super GT--all million dollar plus cars. Sure, racers get a helping hand with big name sponsors like UBS, IZOD, Sprint, Autobacs, etc., but that's after becoming established as a talent. Additionally, for professional racers, competition is their regular 9-5. So what if someone with limited resources wanted to race competitively in wheel-to-wheel events while still maintaining a full-time job and a blossoming family? Is that even possible? For Justin Taylor of Ontario, California, the answer is a resounding yes. The family man and Rockstar Garage shop owner competes throughout the year in the track-prepped 2005 Honda S2000 you see pictured.

Justin's racing career started in early 2012. Shortly after obtaining his racing license, he entered the AP2 into the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championship, a series sanctioned by the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). He competes in the Tuner Under class; a class that requires race cars not exceed a 12:1 pound-to-horsepower ratio, and limits tire width to no more than 245 mm. As expected, all vehicles must pass a NASA inspection before each race. Points are collected over four race weekends that include eight races on the two main raceways; Auto Club Speedway and Buttonwillow Raceway. Road/Race Engineering, the official dynamometer and weight scale referee, dyno tests and weighs each car after the final lap to ensure everyone is in compliance. The series' rules were intentionally crafted to allow for all types of makes and models.

2005 honda s2000 volk racing TE37SL wheels 05 Photo 2/7   |   2005 Honda S2000 - Got Skills?

The S2K experienced numerous changes in two race seasons, the first of which was weight reduction. The somewhat portly two-seater wore down brake pads and mowed through tires far too quickly. Justin and his team wanted to extend the life of these essential components and came up with a plan to drop 150 pounds through the elimination of the air conditioning system, power steering unit, and other miscellaneous parts. The single most significant weight reduction tactic involved replacing the stock exhaust system with a Buddy Club header and exhaust that tips the scales at a mere 60 pounds. Another reduction in total vehicle weight came through the installment of a Rockstar Garage hardtop rather than the OEM unit. "The window is the most unique part of the hardtop. Most S2000 owners install a hardtop to save some weight but most [aftermarket] hardtops have small rear windows. Our top has a large rear window to increase visibility which is pretty big for racing," he says. The rigid roofs are available to the public and are made to order. Customers can select the material used such as carbon fiber, fiberglass, or a hybrid of both.

The lightened roadster increased the longevity of the brake pads and rubber; however, the total weight loss resulted in a higher weight-to-power ratio than class specifications allowed. "We could have went into a limited class but we would not have been as competitive. And this car fits perfect into the [Tuner Under] class," he explains. Instead, Bisimoto Engineering tuned the AEM Version 2 management to dial back timing and reduce fuel at key intervals to reduce total wheel horsepower while still maintaining a tune that's effective on track.

2005 honda s2000 recao pole position seat 02 Photo 3/7   |   2005 Honda S2000 - Got Skills?

Modifications for the AP2 are at this phase complete. The engine, braking, and suspension departments are well suited for the class. Justin is now focused on improving his own performance. He appreciates how his skills have improved over the past two race seasons, but he wants to continue to develop them. "In-car data and seat time is how we plan to spend money [and time] to make the car faster," he explains. Justin's practice schedule includes visiting the upcoming event's racetrack at least two times before the official race weekend. Fortunately for Justin, Maxxis has stepped up to provide tires, which allow more practice laps without devastating the family emergency fund.

Justin learned three major items since deciding to take racing seriously. "Be prepared ahead of time--no last minute stuff." An oil change, unless necessary, in the morning on race day is typically a risk. Justin starts planning, testing, and packing three weeks out before a live event. "Have someone there to help you between sessions." His brother Seth assists on race weekends. Justin finds that having others help out reduces stress. "Experience." He admits that on the tarmac he learns a little more with every start, corner, and straightaway. He adds that he has a dream of one day being a professional NASCAR driver. Skills have brought him this far, there's no doubt that they can take him all the way.

2005 honda s2000 wasp composites front race splitter 03 Photo 4/7   |   2005 Honda S2000 - Got Skills?

Bolts & Washers

Propulsion
F22C
AEM Series II
Bisimoto and Road/Race Engineering tuned
AEM cold-air intake
Buddy Club header
Buddy Club II exhaust
Custom test pipe
4.56 final drive

2005 honda s2000 AEM cold air intake 06 Photo 5/7   |   2005 Honda S2000 - Got Skills?

Suspension
TEIN Super Racing coilovers
Buddy Club ball joints
Buddy Club camber adjusters

Resistance
Buddy Club big brake kit
Project Mu Club Racers brake pads
Motul brake fluid
Buddy Club stainless steel brake lines

Wheels & Tires
Volk Racing TE37SL 17x9.5 +49
255/40-17 Maxxis RC1 100TW Competition

Exterior
Wasp Composites front race splitter
Rockstar Garage hardtop
Rockstar Garage rear race window
Voltex Type 3 wing

2005 honda s2000 tow hook 04 Photo 6/7   |   2005 Honda S2000 - Got Skills?

Interior
Custom 6-point roll cage
Recaro Pole Position seat
Buddy Club low seat rail
Prodrive steering wheel
Prodrive quick release
Sampson racing radio communication system
Sampson fire detection system
Simpson window nets
Simpson professional head and neck restraints
Alpinestars racing suit
Alpinestars racing gloves
Alpinestars racing shoes
Alpinestars racing head sock
HJC SI 12 racing helmet

Props
Kevin, Tom, Jerry @ Buddy Club
Bryan @ Wasp Composites
John Wu @ Maxxis
Patrick @ HJC
Mackin Industries
Mike, Robert @ Roadrace Engineering
Industry friends
Edo, Michelle, Steve
MotoIQ.com and Crew
Luis, Greg
West End Alignment
Evasive Motorsports
Crew Chief Ethan and brother Seth
Wife Natalia and my little rock stars Axel and Jagger

2005 honda s2000 voltex type 3 wing 07 Photo 7/7   |   2005 Honda S2000 - Got Skills?

Owner Specs

Daily grind
Rockstar Garage Owner

Favorite Site
Facebook.com/rockstarautogarage

Screen name OR Nick Name
Rockstar garage

Building Hondas For How Long
Six years

Dream Car
NASCAR Cup car

Inspiration for this build
Going fast

Future Projects
Specification Miata

Rockstar Garage

Justin started Rockstar Garage in 2011 as a side project and creative solution for racing business expenses. He worked with companies to develop aftermarket parts and then decided to venture out and create them himself. The shop gained exposure through the company's S2000 activity in wheel-to-wheel racing. The auto garage focuses on Honda S2000 parts and services; from tow hooks to custom roll cages to the high-visibility hardtop. Mazda Miatas and Nissan 240s also contribute to the customer profile.

"The purpose of our business is to provide quality, U.S.-made parts at a competitive price to the parts made overseas and to keep our race cars on the track." Check out the company page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rockstarautogarage

Sources

Voltex
Suzuka-shi, Mie-ken, Japan, CA
http://www.voltex.ne.jp
Bisimoto
Ontario, CA 91761
888-922-6686
http://www.bisimoto.com
Maxxis
Suwanee, GA 30024
800-462-9947
http://www.maxxis.com
Buddy Club Racing
Ontario, CA 91761
909-923-9188
http://www.buddyclub.us
By Jonathan “JT” Thompson
11 Articles

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