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 |   |  1998 Acura Integra GS-R - Progressive Approach
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1998 Acura Integra GS-R - Progressive Approach

By far the fastest Donut you'll ever encounter ...

Apr 28, 2014

When Mike Hatten, aka "Donut", was contacted about a potential trade for his '99 Civic EX daily driver back in 2008, he was hesitant to say the least. The offer on the table was a direct swap, straight across: his daily driver Civic for an all-original '98 GS-R. The very idea seemed just too good to be true, but alas, the deal was done and he was on his way. He adds, "No questions asked, driving my newly acquired GS-R home and I was thinking what could possibly be wrong with this car? Nothing. I guess he just wanted a Civic that bad."

1998 Acura Integra GSR 949 Racing 6UL Wheel 02 Photo 17/17   |   1998 Acura Integra GS-R - Progressive Approach

One would assume, based on Mike's previous project car, a '92 Civic hatchback that became a community icon in a rather short amount of time, that he'd tear the car apart the moment it hit his driveway. The reality is, the car was to remain a stock, street-friendly daily driver, and for the next three years, it played the role perfectly. Sure, a few minor changes like the ITR suspension for a sportier feel and a very slight height adjustment, as well as an ITR lip made their way to the car, but other than that, it remained as Honda had intended. Mike says, "I was enjoying the car a lot and eventually wanted to do more to it. Around 2011, I was reminiscing about my old hatchback and how much fun it was tracking that car. I always knew I wanted to hit the track again eventually." To satisfy the itch, Mike took a trip to Streets of Willow for a little seat time. Not surprising, he was once again hooked and over the span of the next year, he took part in nine more events with the only change to the car being a Koni shock/Ground Control spring combo upgrade and basic maintenance. "I was pretty proud of the times I was running considering the car was still mostly stock. If I wanted to go faster-and I planned on it-I wanted to make sure I added some safety equipment and I relieved the car of daily driver duties." A Bride bucket seat laced with a Willans six-point harness was added along with an AutoPower four-point rollbar in case of the unthinkable.

Throughout the next year, driver and vehicle development continued to progress rapidly. Serving as a mentor of sorts, Kiwi of Special Projects Motorsports offered advice and helped fit the car with some effective aero pieces like a Special Projects P1 splitter, air dam, and rear wing. Knowing that equipment is only one part of the equation, Mike relied on old-fashioned practice to improve lap times. "There's no way you can learn your car and go faster without seat time. With that in mind, I wanted to go to as many events as I could afford, which totaled to about 16, including driving to and from Thunderhill. Sometimes it was a Saturday and Sunday affair and twice a month. That was key to being able to go as fast I do now." Throughout those 16 events, Mike ran into his share of problems, including off-track encounters, broken parts, and more, but by the end of the year, he'd broken the coveted 2-minute mark at Buttonwillow. That was done with the original B18C1 that came with the car, using ITR camshafts and measuring a mere 165 whp.

1998 Acura Integra GSR Special Projects Motorsports P1 Wing 01 Photo 17/17   |   1998 Acura Integra GS-R - Progressive Approach

Of course, when one goal is reached, another is created, and Mike's story is no different. In 2013, he stepped up to Eibach's Multi-Pro R2 coilovers and with a few years of hard abuse and over 200,000 miles on the clock, it was time for an engine overhaul. Wanting to maintain reliability, Mike opted for mostly OEM parts for his B18C1 but figured it might be a good time to swap out the OEM cams for something a little more aggressive from the aftermarket and unfortunately, the cams failed. It was time to regroup. Mike adds, "As a grassroots racer it was necessary to take some time off and go over the car with a fine-tooth comb before taking it out again." Over a five-month period, Mike went through the car, top to bottom, ensuring all of the mechanical and safety components were up to par. Then, it was time for a rematch. "I went to Buttonwillow to see if I could still lay it down and ended up being 1 second faster, bringing my time down to a 1:58.3 to end the year," Mike says. "Here we are in 2014 and I plan on doing the exact same thing. Hopefully I can help others achieve their personal goals as I've done, and keep pushing the envelope myself."

Bolts & Washers

B18C1 block
B16A head
JDM ITR pistons
JDM CTR cams
Supertech valvesprings
ITR intake manifold
Skunk2 66mm throttle body
AEM cold-air intake
BPI velocity stack
Blox air filter
Skunk2 Alpha header
Buddy Club Spec II exhaust
Walbro 255-lph pump
CX Racing radiator
ITR transmission
4.9 final drive
Exedy Stage I clutch
ACT flywheel
MFactory Metal Plate LSD
Crome tuned P28 ECU

1998 Acura Integra GSR B18C1 Photo 17/17   |   1998 Acura Integra GS-R - Progressive Approach

Eibach Multi-Pro R2 coilovers
Eibach 25mm rear sway bar
PCI spherical rear trailing arm bushings
Hardrace camber kit (front)
Hardrace camber/toe kit (rear)
West End Alignment

ITR calipers
AutoZone Mini Cooper rotors
Carbotech XP20 front pads
Carbotech XP8 rear pads
ATE Super Blue fluid
Techna-Fit brake lines

1998 Acura Integra GSR Coilover Reservoir Photo 17/17   |   1998 Acura Integra GS-R - Progressive Approach

Wheels and Tires
15x8 +36 949 Racing 6UL
225/45-15 Nitto NT01

Special Projects Motorsports P1 splitter/air dam
Special Projects Motorsports P1 wing
ITR roof skin
ITR doors
FAL rear hatch glass
Spoon side mirrors

Bride Zeta 2
Willans 6-point harness
Personal steering wheel
ARC shift knob
Mugen pedals
Autopower 4-point rollbar
Wiring consolidated
Factory tar removed

My friends and family supporting and helping me out, all the guys at the track running HFF Challenge, and the PB Juice.

1998 Acura Integra GSR Personal Steering Wheel Photo 17/17   |   1998 Acura Integra GS-R - Progressive Approach

Owner Specs

Daily Grind

Favorite Site

1998 Acura Integra GSR 949 Racing 6UL Wheels Photo 17/17   |   1998 Acura Integra GS-R - Progressive Approach

Screen Name

Building Hondas
13 years

Dream Car

Inspiration For This Build
The dudes at the track, Donkey Bop, Jackson, the FF-Squad.

Future Build
Maybe an S2000

1998 Acura Integra GSR Front Bumper 01 Photo 17/17   |   1998 Acura Integra GS-R - Progressive Approach

Less is more

Donut, like so many other track junkies, subscribes to the "less is more" train of thought with his track car. While you might be asking yourself why he relies on such a mild engine setup when he could opt for something bigger, meaner, and more powerful, the answer relies in basic reliability and a well-thought-out balance. For example, drag racing takes a major toll on any high-performance engine for short stints, but road racing is quite the opposite. Lap after lap, session after session, the car and its engine are pushed to the limit over and over again. Heat and wear play a major role on track days and over time, both can and will weigh heavily on the life of an engine. In Donut's case, there are no trailers involved and driving to and from the track is the norm, so maintaining reliability is imperative to keeping his car on track throughout the year.


Hawthorne, CA
Eibach Springs
Corona, CA
Special Projects Motorsports
Orange, CA
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