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 |   |  2001 Honda S2000 - The Comeback Kid
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2001 Honda S2000 - The Comeback Kid

A Trail Of Dead Engines And A Run-In With Thieves Weren’t Enough To Hold Him Back

Jun 1, 2009
Htup 0906 01 o+2001 honda s2000+js racing aero kit Photo 1/16   |   HTUP-090600-040-45-S2K

Building the ultimate Honda can be a daunting task. If it’s not the fear of notorious car thieves, then it’s the potential to go broke trying to find the perfect mix of parts. And even if you do uncover that magical combination of goodies, there’s no promise that it won’t blow up in your face, especially for those that see a healthy amount of track time. The hours of work and the weeks of hard-earned pay put toward its completion are enough to make anyone leery of pursuing a serious build. However, no one dislikes a quitter more than Ryan Novak of Torrance, California, and he’s proven it with an AP1 S2000. To say his journey has been a difficult one is an understatement. It seemed that no matter which direction he went, the dark clouds continued to follow.

Originally from Chicago, Ryan is a product of the drag race era. It wasn’t until he moved to California and met friend James Won that he’d experienced his first road racing event though. At the time, Ryan was dirtying his hands building a boosted Accord, but a run-in with thieves put an end to the project. Unfortunately, that wasn’t his only experience with the bad element. “I had this EK that I absolutely loved. I put a lot into it and I was getting paranoid with all of the Hondas being stolen in SoCal. I worried about it so much that it was literally ruining my life. I couldn’t go anywhere without having the car within my sight because I felt like it was going to get picked off,” he says.

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Shortly after, Ryan’s worst fears were realized and the thieves finally got the better of him. With no intentions of going through the same tragedy all over again, Ryan left Hondas behind and focused his attention toward building an STi for track duty. Residing close to automotive tuning facility Harman Motive meant that he’d have a wealth of knowledge and experience close by to put him ahead of the competition on race day. It’s also what introduced him to the Redline Time Attack series.

Though a high-powered AWD monster would probably fill the void in any enthusiast’s heart, it was a chance encounter with an S2000 that would influence Ryan’s next purchase. “My friend brought an S2000 to a track event and I tried it out. It wasn’t the fastest thing in the world, but it just felt right. A month later, I went to the dealer and picked up my own white one. On track day, I was running times pretty close to my fastest STi laps in a stock S2000; that says so much about what this car is capable of even in stock form,” Ryan says.

But as with any of his previous cars, stock parts wouldn’t stick around long. The suspension and chassis were the first areas to be addressed in order to milk the roadster for every bit of handling it could possibly muster. Comfortable with the car’s stance and cornering ability, the engine upgrades started to make their way under the hood, as well as an interesting transmission modification: a 4.77:1 final drive from a Kia Sportage of all cars. Eventually, a set of extremely rare made-to-order Tracy Sports individual throttle bodies were sourced, and after months of waiting, were finally in his possession. A Portflow-massaged cylinder head and AEM ECU helped the S2K produce 298 hp at 8,300 rpm. Finally, things seemed to be looking up for Ryan and his new project. That is, until he started blowing engines. Ryan explained that he was on his fifth engine. Looking for more power and being no stranger to swapping them out, he decided to try his hand at a 2.5-liter stroker engine paired with some boost. Due to some machining issues, he ran into catastrophic failure with two engines before he even got a chance to test them on the track. “You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to find a good machinist. Luckily, I found Benson’s blocks and Autowave set me up with a killer stroker motor that looks to be bulletproof. Now the car is running perfect on boost. The car is more competitive now with the stiff level of competition, but there’s really nothing like the feel of a properly set-up, naturally aspirated S2K,” Ryan says.

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Even after the bad experiences with thieves and seven blown engines sitting in his own makeshift graveyard at Harman Motive, Ryan’s managed to find his way back to where he belongs after just a few laps in the beloved roadster.

Bolts & Washers

CP Pistons
Carrillo rods
Tracy Sport individual throttle bodies
GReddy oil cooler
Koyo radiator
Samco Sport radiator hoses
Portflow cylinder head
Supertech valves
Toda valvesprings
RSX valve spring retainers
Walbro 255 lph fuel pump
RC 550cc fuel injectors
Tracy Sport fuel rail
Earl’s fittings and lines
Sard fuel pressure regulator
J’s Racing engine torque damper
J’s Racing 70RR exhaust system
J’s Racing exhaust manifold
ACT clutch
Toda lightweight flywheel
Kia Sportage 4.77:1 final drive gear

Htup 0906 11 o+2001 honda s2000+engine bay Photo 10/16   |   HTUP-090600-040-45-S2K

TEIN SRC coilovers
ASM shock tower bar
ASM floor bar
ASM subframe bar
Cusco triangular bar
J’s Racing front roll center adjuster
J’s Racing rear roll center adjuster
J’s Racing bumpsteer
J’s Racing trailing arms

Project µ discs
Hawk race pads
Spoon Sports calipers
Motul fluid
StopTech steel-braided lines
AQ motorsports brake ducts

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Rims & Rubber:
17x9 Volk CE28N (+40 offset)
255/40-17 Toyo R888

Mobworks paint and bodywork
J’s Racing Type S aero kit
J’s Racing carbon-fiber hood
J’s Racing Type 1 wing
ASM carbon-fiber trunk lid
ASM carbon-fiber duckbill
ASM rear overfenders
Password:JDM carbon-Kevlar underbody diffuser
Top Secret rear diffuser
Carbon Craft mirrors

Bride Zeta III Type L bucket seat
ASM shift boot
ASM center console
ARC shift knob
Spoon Sports steering wheel
NRG quick release hub
Carbing rollcage
CTR coin tray
CTR climate control

Htup 0906 07 o+2001 honda s2000+bride zeta III type l bucketseat Photo 15/16   |   HTUP-090600-040-45-S2K

• JHP USA for the sponsorship and all the parts they’ve provided to keep up with my bad habits
• AQ Motor Sports for all the countless hours spent working on and fabricating the car
• Harman Motive for the trackside support and storage of the car
• Mitch Peterson for all the great engine tunes
• Shane and Mike at Autowave
• Steve Ruiz Sr. and Jr. for making the time to R&D the car at the track
• JC Meynet, Darin at West End, Charlie Ryu at Top Setup, Adan Q, Dan Harman, and my ol’ lady

Owner Specs

Torrance, California

Htup 0906 02 o+2001 honda s2000+js racing type 1 wing Photo 16/16   |   HTUP-090600-040-45-S2K

Daily Grind:
HVAC technician

Favorite website:

Building Cars For How Long:
Over 10 years

Favorite Kicks:
DC shoes

Dream Car:

Build Inspiration:
ASM Time Attack S2000

Can’t Miss TV:
Rob and Big

Redline Time Attack

Also known simply as a time trial, time attack events have become the staple of import performance over the past few years. The recent decline in interest surrounding the drift craze and the long-running drag race phenomenon that carried the import industry for years has pushed race fans toward a new type of competition. Though the U.S. hasn’t completely embraced this form of motorsports the way the Japanese and Europeans have, there’s no denying its impact in the U.S. Events like the Redline Time Attack series are fully sanctioned events open to the general public with provisions for any type of car and driver—perfect for the beginning driver or the up-and-coming performance shop with intentions of making a name for itself.

By Rodrez
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