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1997 Acura Integra Type R - Preserved

Restoring—and racing—RealTime Racing's championship-winning Type R

Aaron Bonk
Apr 2, 2014
Photographer: Keith Meilink

At the close of 2002, following RealTime Racing's string of Speedvision World Challenge Touring Car victories and Acura's first-ever manufacturer's championship, the Integra Type R would go on to become the most successful car in the history of the series, securing more wins, poles, and championships than anything else. And at the close of 2002, all of that was nearly lost on Bernie Naegele, a 40-year Honda enthusiast by all accounts, but not for reasons you'd think. Honda motorcycles have long been Bernie's passion, only to burgeon into adoration for the company's motorcars over the course of the last decade. That Bernie would go on to own a piece of RealTime Racing and Acura history wasn't exactly planned, though, even if it was four decades in the making.

1997 acura integra type r HPM rear spoiler 02 Photo 2/14   |   1997 Acura Integra Type R - Preserved

Longtime Acura racing partner, RealTime Racing, has a history of churning out highly competitive yet deceivingly uncomplicated race cars. Its once seven-car lineup of Type Rs that competed in the exceptionally emulous and heavily televised World Challenge series was no exception. While other World Challenge competitors cut, welded, fabricated, and incorporated a slew of adjustable parts for the sake of adjustability, RealTime's Type Rs remained uncannily simple. For example, the suspensions were made up of single-adjustable Mugen shocks, carefully selected Eibach springs that were available to the masses, revised bushings, and a specialized antiroll bar in the rear that's most remembered for protruding into the trunk. It's that simplicity that allowed RealTime's crew and drivers to spend more time testing and dialing everything in than fiddling with all sorts of dash-mounted widgets and knobs.

It's exactly that sort of simplicity—and unparalleled racing heritage—that spoke to Bernie when the opportunity to purchase one of RealTime's World Challenge specimens presented itself. The car—once wielded by drivers Michael Galati and Hugh Plumb—didn't exactly roll out of RealTime's Saukville, Wisconsin, headquarters and into Bernie's driveway, though. Like much of its fleet, this particular Type R had changed hands at least twice—first unto the watchful care of Jocelyn Herbert of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec's 89 Racing Team, and then again unto Keene, New Hampshire's Bill Fenton Motorsports, who, like Herbert, continued to use the chassis for exactly what RealTime intended. It wasn't until August of 2011 that Bernie would become the Type R's fourth and most recent caretaker.

1997 acura integra type r RealTime racing front splitter 11 Photo 3/14   |   1997 Acura Integra Type R - Preserved

Semblances between what Bernie had paid Bill Fenton for and what RealTime had campaigned just 10 years earlier for had been few, though. Most notably, the paint scheme and livery had changed to reflect the new owners. As such, Bernie dutifully played curator, bringing the Type R back to life complete with its original color scheme and turn-of-the-millennium graphics. Mechanical fixes were also made, like a rebuilt gearbox along with new axles, tires, and updated internals in hopes of allowing the car to return to what it does best. And that's exactly what Bernie's done, regularly competing in SCCA regional events and whatever Honda-oriented track days he can make it to.

The infamous RealTime Integra wasn't Bernie's first foray onto the racetrack. In the early 1990s, he cut his teeth racing a '73 Porsche 911 and '66 Shelby Mustang and then again in 2006 in an Integra GS-R. "I could not believe you could wind the [engine] to eight grand all weekend and still drive it home without a single problem," Bernie says of his first on-track Honda encounter. "That was it. It's been Hondas ever since."

1997 acura integra type r SCCA pro spec rollcage 09 Photo 4/14   |   1997 Acura Integra Type R - Preserved

Any correlations between that '96 GS-R and the RealTime Integra are few, though. Make no mistake; the Type R's modifications remain minimal, but every single one of them are as meaningful as you think and equate to a reported 216 hp. Exhaust restrictions according to World Challenge's showroom stock series rules were few, yet RealTime made due with the same Mugen header and Borla muffler sold in corner-tuning shops. ECU limitations were just as lax, and yet RealTime once again called upon Mugen for its mass-produced reflash teamed with RC Engineering fuel injectors of stock proportions (Bernie has since upgraded to Hondata's S300). It's all very uninspiring sounding and is perhaps the unlikeliest of modification lists for what would become the series' most winning chassis. Here, perhaps the less-is-more philosophy has never been truer.

1997 acura integra type r hugh plumb 08 Photo 5/14   |  
Hugh Plumb’s signature.

Acura's Type R was perhaps the most formidable force among World Challenge competitors of its day, soon performing at speeds of which only GT cars were accustomed to. As a result, significant weight restrictions were implemented, as were limitations to intake system diameter. Despite all of that, few rivaled the Acura marque with the exception of BMW and its 328. It's all very much the stuff that racing lore is made of and was more than enough reason for Bernie to embark on one very important restoration.

Bolts & Washers

Propulsion
B18C5
Solid-filled engine mounts
12.5:1 JE pistons
Crower connecting rods
Ported and polished cylinder head
Crower valvesprings
Crower titanium retainers
Crower valve keepers
Skunk2 cams
AEM adjustable camshaft gears
NSX airbox
Uni air filter
Mugen header
Borla muffler
NGK spark plugs
Accusump oil accumulator
Bosch fuel pump
RC Engineering fuel injectors
Griffin aluminum radiator
Exedy clutch
Exedy lightweight flywheel
Mugen limited-slip differential
Enjo axles
Hondata S300 engine management system

1997 acura integra type r B18C5 03 Photo 9/14   |  
Bernie’s B18C5 sees 12.5:1 compression thanks to JE Pistons.

Suspension
Mugen shocks
Eibach springs
RealTime Racing rear antiroll bar
Energy Suspension bushings

Resistance
EBC slotted rotors
Cobalt XR2 pads (front)
Hawk Blue pads (rear)
Steel-braided lines

1997 acura integra type r ITR sway tower bar 05 Photo 10/14   |   1997 Acura Integra Type R - Preserved

Wheels & Tires
15x7 Volk Racing TE37
225/45-15 Hoosier R6

Exterior
Custom paint with RealTime Racing livery
RealTime Racing front splitter
HPM rear spoiler

1997 acura integra type r honda valve cover 13 Photo 11/14   |   1997 Acura Integra Type R Honda Valve Cover 13

Interior
SCCA pro-spec rollcage
Sparco seats
Willans harnesses
Sparco steering wheel
Sparco pedals
Pi System 2 digital dash

Props
Wheeler Automotive
Bill Fenton Motorsports
Geneva Coach
E-19 Racing
Big M Motorsports
Geneva Glass Center
Parents, wife, and sons

Special Thanks RealTime Racing

Owner Specs

1997 acura integra type r bernie naegele 07 Photo 12/14   |   1997 Acura Integra Type R - Preserved

Daily Grind
Firefighter

Favorite Site
itrexpo.com, nsxprime.com

Screen Name
Hondacbx

Building Hondas
Eight years (cars), 40 years (motorcycles)

Dream Car
Porsche 917

Inspiration For This Build
RealTime Racing

1997 acura integra type r volk racing TE37 12 Photo 13/14   |   1997 Acura Integra Type R Volk Racing TE37 12

ITR Expo

Now the Pirelli World Challenge, the series Bernie's Type R once called home has since changed extensively. Mazdas and Mini Coopers have superseded Type Rs and, with nearly 17 years of abuse under its sheetmetal, Bernie's RealTime relic has since found a new home. The annual ITR Expo—an event catering to the most sports-minded, FWD Honda to ever grace American shores and its owners—gives Type R aficionados like Bernie an opportunity for track time and camaraderie with like-minded Honda fans. The weekend-long events held by the Integra Type R Club of America are every bit about sharing information, dining together, and basking in the greatness that is one of Honda's most special creations to date. Each year the ITR Expo continues to grow, attracting Honda zealots from around the world to some of the prestigious racetracks North America has to offer.

1997 acura integra type r RealTime racing front splitter 14 Photo 14/14   |   1997 Acura Integra Type R Realtime Racing Front Splitter 14

Sources

Energy Suspension
San Clemente, 92673
888-913-6374
http://www.energysuspension.com
EBC Brakes
Sylmar, CA 91342
702-826-2400
http://www.ebcbrakes.com
Hondata
Torrance, CA 90503
310-782-8278
http://www.hondata.com
By Aaron Bonk
405 Articles

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