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1994 Honda Civic VX - The Balancing Act

It Takes More Than Horsepower To Run With The Big Boys.

Jonathan Thompson
Apr 1, 2009
Photographer: Chris Wold
Htup 0904 01 o+1994 honda civic VX+lenso VPD wheel Photo 1/18   |   1994 Honda Civic VX - The Balancing Act

Steven Conley vividly remembers seeing his friend’s white turbocharged Civic taking out 5.0 Mustangs back in the day. Shortly after, the go-fast bug latched onto his vital organs, as Steven’s since wrestled with balancing the good with the bad in the high-stakes game known as drag racing. Sanctioned Honda-friendly drag racing venues aren’t exactly at a premium nowadays. The situation is one that’ll either promote a life of street racing or an extremely patient individual—one who bides his time as he awaits the next opportunity to hit the track.

In 1999, Steven, who hails from Hooper, Utah, sourced a Civic hatchback of his own. His plans were to race it…legally. He purchased the VX from friend John Gill for practically nothing, which is no surprise since the car pretty much was nothing. “I realized I was in over my head the moment I got it. It had no seats, engine, or transmission,” he laughs. Steven chose the hatchback for its looks, weight consciousness, track width, and the unlimited options available for it. He originally planned for the project to last roughly one or two years, however, he didn’t even begin working on the car until 2002. As rules and regulations changed over time, so did Steven’s Civic. Meanwhile sanctioning bodies were beginning to dwindle away, but the Civic remained. The barren shell sat for three years before Steven finally went to work on it. He had an H22A prepped by PFI Speed in Colorado, installed several goodies, and immediately hit 10s in the Big-O Tires Streetssc Legal Series. A year later, while still paying homage to the H-series, he set out to lower his time but, despite his efforts, just couldn’t break the elusive single-digit barrier. As horsepower increased so did transmission gremlins—a scenario that so many H-series aficionados are intimately aware of. As such, he did something most racers would never consider. Steven went on hiatus for the season in order to build an Integra for his wife, Angie, to race. After congregating among fellow female racers, Angie couldn’t help but get sucked into the excitement. She tore up the bracket racing class with a boosted LS-VTEC that hit consistent low 12s. “Watching my wife have fun and getting the adrenaline rush was worth every minute of it,” Steven says. The Integra was eventually sold to Steven’s friend, Chad Bivens, but the story doesn’t end well. Chad ended up at the local street races where he was followed home, forced off the road, and killed. The normally high-energy and humorous Steven slows down and becomes quiet: “Street racing can either get you, your friends, or innocent bystanders killed. It’s not worth it.”

Htup 0904 03 o+1994 honda civic VX+MFactory cam gears Photo 2/18   |   1994 Honda Civic VX - The Balancing Act
2019 Honda Civic
$21,450 Base Model (MSRP) MPG Fuel Economy

Steven also parted ways with the H22A and took a year off for research and development on the hatchback. Courtney Green of Strange Performance built and tuned the LS-VTEC combination and Steven’s crew chief and good friend, Dan Johnson, helped install the burly beast that features T1 Race Development pistons dangling from Manley rods. The fully redone Civic was ready for action. Steven entered into a slew of racing venues in 2007, picking up several trophies. He raced in the Summit ET Series, the Import Drag Racing Circuit, the Battle of the Imports, and a few races in the National Hot Rod Association’s Sport Front Wheel Drive division. The NHRA quickly nicknamed Steven and his friends “Team Utah Mafia.” “It was funny. They called us that over the loudspeakers at a race one time,” Steven laughs. And the title fits them. The Utah racers tend to stick together, pit with one another, and lend a hand when a hand’s needed. One went so far as to swap out Steven’s transmission in 30 minutes to get him back in the series.

Steven later went on to slap a massive Bullseye S372R turbocharger in place, boosting in excess of 45 psi. He was determined to hit 9s. And he did. His fastest pass was a 9.79 at 151 mph. Steven also picked up a sponsor from Stephen, the CEO of MFactory. “The guy flew halfway across the country to watch me race in Las Vegas. What a committed individual,” he says. They eventually became good friends as they became closer with each passing race. Steven continues to race and plans to install a dog box transmission to help him achieve even lower times. He admits that he used to spend a lot of money to compete at the track but luckily he has several sponsors now that take care of the brunt of the costs. To cover the expenses his sponsors don’t, Steven works as a professional body piercer and as a special teams firefighter engineer for the Ogden Fire Department.

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After losing another friend and another brief break, Steven is back to the balancing act that is racing and life in general. “Joe Barfus was an awesome alignment technician and mechanic. Joe went to sleep and was found by his fiancée. Rest in peace and Godspeed brotha! I’m dedicating the 2009 season to you, my friend.” Maybe some good will come out of the bad.

Bolts & Washers

B18B1 block (2.0L)
B16A2 head
Avid Racing engine mounts
T1 Race Development 9.8:1 pistons
Manley rods
Golden Eagle sleeves
B18C1 crankshaft
ATI vibration damper
IPG V1 Turbo camshafts
MFactory cam gears
Supertech valves
Supertech valvesprings
Supertech valve guides
Supertech retainers
Bullseye S372R turbocharger
T1 Race Development intercooler
Custom intercooler piping
TiAL 50mm blow-off valve
JG Edelbrock intake manifold
BDL 74mm throttle body
Full-Race ProAm exhaust manifold
T1 Race Development downpipe
Phantom four-inch exhaust
TiAL 44mm wastegate (2)
MFactory oil block adapter
Moroso oil pan
PWR radiator
Aeromotive Eliminator fuel pump
Precision 1600cc fuel injectors
Golden Eagle fuel rail
Fluid Control Solutions fittings and lines
Aeromotive inline fuel filter
Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator
Full-Race fuel sump
NGK BKR7E spark plugs
MSD Digital 7 ignition box
MSD HVC-II blaster ignition coil
Hondata S300
PLX-M300 wideband oxygen sensor
MFactory transmission
MFactory carbon-fiber shifter
Clutchmasters FX700 twin-disc clutch
Clutchmasters flywheel
Mfactory LSD
MFactory axles
IPG scattershield

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PIC Speed coilovers (front)
Omni Power coilovers (rear)
MFactory spherical bearings
MFactory camber and toe adjusters
Skunk2 front upper camber assembly
Avid Racing traction bars
MFactory front roll center adjusters

Brembo slotted rotors
Hawk pads
DC2 GS-R calipers
Technafit steel-braided lines

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Rims & Rubber:
Front: 13x8 Lenso VPD (+25 offset)
Rear: 15x3.5 Lenso XPD-R (+25 offset)
Front: 24.5/9-13 Mickey Thompson slicks
Rear: 3.6/24-15 M&H skinnies
Image Group

Simpson window net
Simpson parachute
Grizzlygraphics vinyl wrap

Kirkey seats
DJ safety harness
Sparco Extreme 2 steering wheel
MFactory shift knob
PFI Speed roll cage
AEM electronic boost controller
Hondata data logger
Auto Meter gauges
A’PEXi turbo timer

Stephen, CEO of MFactory
My beautiful wife Angie
Dan Johnson crew chief
Courtney Green at Strange Performance
Dan at Bullseye Turbos
Wil at Exospeed
Tony Palo at T1 Race Development
Javier at Hondata
Franklin at Avid Racing
David and Danny at SPEC Clutch
Franky and Kelly at Kody’s Motorsports
Will and Martin at Supertech
Aaron and Henry at Full-Race
Ben and Travis at Big-O Tires
Mike and Sheryl at Déjà Vu Piercing
Kris Bruington
Buck Lemoine
Drew Crenshaw
Austin Rael
Kyle Herrera
Cody Anderson
Jasen Penman
Jason Rainey
Jason Barber
Danny Krieger
Torco Oil
Knucks Clothing
2020 Customs
RIP Joe Barfus

Htup 0904 18 o+1994 honda civic VX+TiAL wastegate Photo 15/18   |   1994 Honda Civic VX - The Balancing Act

Owner Specs

Hooper, Utah

Htup 0904 13 o+1994 honda civic VX+steven conley Photo 16/18   |   1994 Honda Civic VX - The Balancing Act

Daily grind:
Body piercer, firefighter

Favorite website:
That popular Honda one

Building cars how long:
10 years

Favorite kicks:

Dream car:

Build inspiration:
PFI boys running 10s in ’00

Can’t miss TV:

Racing Divisions

Steven Conley made a name for himself in the now defunct National Hot Rod Association's Sport Front Wheel Drive division. The series experienced declining participants and eventually folded but was arguably one of the most exciting classes in sport compact drag racing history. Steven began by taking out 12-second-cars and quickly worked his way up the ladder, moving from 10s to 9s. "The last day I raced there I was the only one to show up. All I had to do was roll and trip the beams for a victory," he laughs. Sanctioning bodies like the NHRA have rigid rules and regulations. "It takes attention to detail, dedication, patience, and allnighters," Steven says. Drivers running a 9.99 or faster must obtain a competition driver's license. There are restrictions for the weight, engine, fuel, transmission, and chassis. There are also numerous safety requirements. The standards of these events are for the common good though. They create a competitive and safe atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.

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Htup 0904 02 o+1994 honda civic VX+simpson parachute Photo 18/18   |   1994 Honda Civic VX - The Balancing Act


SPEC Clutch
Bessemer, AL 35022
Full-Race Motorsports
Phoenix, AZ 85040
T1 Race Development
Rowlett, TX 75088
Clinton, UT 84014
By Jonathan Thompson
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