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1997 Acura Integra GS-R - Anatomy of a Fromer Street Racer Grown Up

One Man's Journey From the Streets to the Circuits

Joey Lee
Oct 1, 2009
Photographer: Rodrez

Reza Yaghoubi's 1997 Acura Integra GS-R
If you were around the tuner community since the late '90s, then you probably have stories or at least a fond memory or two of the street racing days. Some of you young bucks may be saying: "But I street race all the time, I just raced some guy earlier." You see, revving at some guy driving the opposite direction, or running someone down on the highway isn't really "true" street racing. In fact, it's safe to say that, for the most part, street racing is dead. The days of lining up on a secluded street flanked by business parks with hundreds of people looking on are long gone. Those who still have that thirst for speed have hopefully translated their racing talents from the streets to the track. Local track events provide a closed, safe environment for people to push themselves and their cars without having to worry about endangering their lives, or the lives of others. Not to mention the risk of an impounded and possibly crushed car. Reza Yaghoubi of San Diego, CA, once a dedicated street racer, is an individual who's matured, and made the decision to progress on the track, rather than run high risks on the street.

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"I still remember the first time I saw a modified Honda," Reza reminisces. "It was back in 1994 when I was still in high school. I didn't even know what kind of Honda it was because I wasn't into imports at all, but just the simple look of a slammed Honda made me want one." That Honda turned out to be an EF Civic from "Ground Zero," one of the more notable car crews of that era. The slammed EF with a single-shot nitrous setup was inspirational enough for Reza to purchase his very own Honda. "I started out with a 1991 Integra GS that ended up getting stolen. I then moved on to a single-cam turbocharged CR-X which made decent power, but I just wanted more," Reza says. "Street racing was really starting to take shape around that time and the most popular race car was probably a 92-95 hatch. I had a 92 CX as a daily and decided to jump in on the craze. I sold my CR-X to fund the build of the hatch." At that time, Reza rolled with a San Diego based car crew known as Team Infamous. The team mechanic, Kivey, is credited with providing the engine that eventually made Reza "infamous". "Kivey learned how to build engines from Peter Yem of PYR Racing fame, so he really knew his stuff. "I asked him to help build me an engine and he told me about a B16 that he had built for his personal car. He was very eager to test it out and I was the perfect guinea pig." The Kivey-built engine ended up being a potent setup as Reza and his Civic began to create quite a stir. So much so that his bright yellow EH soon became known as "The Killer Bee."

"It was great to have a fast, well-known car back then. It gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of great people," Reza remembers. "One of the people I met was actually Rodrez. He was racing at the same time on the same streets. It was fun back then, we always had a good time running our cars against each other and just trying to go faster."

Unfortunately, a brutal car wreck led to the untimely end of the Killer Bee. Reza escaped unharmed but came to the decision that his street racing days were over and done with. His love of Hondas however, remained strong. "I still had the desire to drive a Honda. There's just something about that go-kart feel, the gutted interior, and the sound of hearing VTEC engage that really put the hooks in me."

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"I had to put the street racing days behind me. People were starting to get hurt and the San Diego police department was really starting to come down hard on everyone. I began looking at other aspects of racing and that's when I discovered road racing events at the track with professional organizations like NASA," Reza explains.

Yaghoubi owned an EK Civic for a short time but just wasn't happy with it. After a ride in a friend's DC2 Integra, he knew that it would be his next weapon of choice. A car broker by trade, Reza quickly found a stock, unmolested 1997 Integra GS-R. Years removed from street racing, Reza found himself inspired once again after spotting another Honda-one that turned out to be an old friend's. "I would always see this clean EG hatchback rolling around town that turned out to be Rodrez's, haha! It had been a couple years and I had no idea that he was still into Hondas. The way he built his car along with a couple other guys on the Honda forums lead me to follow their styling cues. It wasn't about JDM this and that because I really had no idea what that was at the time. I just loved the way their cars looked because they were so simple."

The more Reza learned about road racing, the more he became infatuated with it. He prepared his Integra with the basic essentials for the track like TEIN RA suspension, Nitto NT01 R-compound tires, an Autopower 6-point roll cage, and Recaro Pro Racer seats. "I wanted a reliable B-series engine that had some punch to back it up. The first engine I had was assembled by Loi Song and the Sportcar Motion crew. It was healthy and strong but my inexperience at the track caused me to push it a little too hard and I blew the engine." Not willing to give-up, Reza quickly sourced an Integra GS-R head and JDM Integra Type R engine block. Unfortunately for him, the block proved to be more trouble than it was worth because every bolt turned out to be stripped. Reza acknowledges John Rusakoff at JSP Performance for coming through for him and re-threading every hole in the damaged block. He and John then dropped the engine in and got it started on its first crank-over. The engine was then tuned at Church Automotive and produced an impressive 219hp and 147ft-lb of torque.

With the Killer Bee days long behind him, Yaghoubi decided to take a much more subtle approach with his Integra, which he aptly named "Shirley." "The main purpose of my Integra is to have sort of a Japanese hot rod that I can take to the track and enjoy. I have nothing to prove. I'm not out to break records or trump other people's track times. I just take Shirley out to track days and open her up. Not too gentle but definitely not too rough, just enough to give myself the pleasure of having a purpose-built Honda that sounds and feels great."

Bolts & Washers

Propulsion
JDM B18C5 engine block
B18C1 cylinder head
Avid engine mounts
ITR lower front aluminum mount
Skunk2 Pro 2 intake manifold
Skunk2 Pro 2 Stage 2 camshafts
Skunk2 Pro 2 valve springs
Skunk2 Pro 2 retainers
Skunk2 Pro 2 cam gears
ARP head studs
Power Industries timing belt
AEM cold-air intake
Circuit Hero velocity stack
K&N air filter
ITR throttle body
DTR Race header
JUN full-cat back exhaust
T1R test pipe
Walbro 255lph fuel pump
H22A 280cc fuel injectors
AEM fuel rail
Earl's custom fuel lines
Earl's fittings
SC1 transmission
AEM Street clutch disc
ACT 12-lb. flywheel
Quaife differential
Gearspeed carbon-coated synchros
JDM 4.7 final drive
Fluidyne radiator
Samco Sport hoses
Spoon thermostat
Spoon cooling fan switch
ITR red valve cover
Greddy radiator cooling plate
Cusco catch can
Vision Technica spark plug cover

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Stance
Tein RA coilovers
Comptech rear anti-roll bar
Skunk2 Pro 2 front and rear camber kit
Benen 3-point shock tower bar
Benen front cross member bar
Benen rear trunk brace
Cusco 40mm rear shock tower bar
ITR rear trunk bar

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Resistance
Brembo 11.1-in. front brake rotors
Powerslot rear brake rotors
ITR brake calipers
Hawk HP ceramic front brake pads
Hawk HP rear brake pads
Motul RB600 brake fluid
Earl's stainless steel-braided brake lines
Dali Racing carbon fiber brake ducts
JSP custom fabricated rotor cooling adapter
2-inch cooling connecting duct
I-Drive master cylinder brace

Rims & Rubber
15x7 Desmond Regamaster Evo (+35 offset)
225/45-15 Nitto NT01
H&R 15mm front wheel spacers
Skunk2 magnesium lug nuts
ARP extended wheel studs

Outside
PPG R81 Milano Red paint
OEM 98-Spec Integra front-end conversion
OEM ITR front flip
Mugen 1st generation rear wing
Vision Technica Type DC carbon fiber mirrors
JSP custom front tow hooks
J's Racing canards
R-Crew front splitter
APR winglets
Shaved moldings and emblems
Honda Access window visors

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Inside
Recaro Pro Racer seats
Bride Type FG seat rails
Autopower 6-point rollcage
Autopower 5-point seat harness
Sparco Racing 2 steering wheel
Sparco quick release
Sparco race pedals
Spoon Alcon shift knob
Circuit Hero shift extender
SFI high density padding

Props
I would like to thank my Parents and Fiancee Lia for supporting me with this hobby of mine through the years.
JSP Performance
Mr. "Banana Hammock" John Russakoff for letting me use his shop and the work he performed on the car.
Tony and Brandon for their support.
Gil and Will at Circuit Hero for their support and insight.
BrakeExpert on NWP for my braking needs.
Everyone who has helped me along the way with locating parts or general information, thank you!

Owner Specs

Favorite Website:
NWP4LIFE.com

Screen Name Or Nickname:
Reza^

Building Hondas For How Long:
Since 1996

Your Dream Car:
Ferrari F50 GT

Build Inspiration:
J's Racing race cars

Whats Playing In Your iPod/CD/MP3 Player Right Now:
Gangstarr

Greatest Movie Of All Time:
Apocalypse Now Redux

The End Of An Era
If you ever wondered how the booming street racing scene in San Diego met its demise, look no further than SD Drag Net. The San Diego police department created this task force in 2002 to battle illegal street racing. Drag Net included a team of undercover detectives who attended the street events and video-taped races to gather evidence. They would then seek out these cars and their owners via license plate numbers and often made house calls to arrest offenders. The crackdown was so serious that they would even ticket spectators in attendance. SD Drag Net's attack on illegal street racing was so successful that they received national and international attention. They even began training law enforcement officials from other cities and states to help with their efforts. In 2007, the Drag Net program was eliminated due to lack of funding. Though it was dropped, it no doubt played a key role in the death of street racing in San Diego. In 2009 Chula Vista, California adopted a similar program targeting modified imports and even crushing violators' cars, sending a message to all would-be street racers. Don't run the risk, take it to the track.

Sources

Nitto Tire
Cypress, CA 90630
877-565-8448
www.nittotire.com
Skunk2 Racing
Norco, CA 92860
951-808-9888
http://www.skunk2.com
Circuit Hero
San Diego, CA 92111
858-874-2585
http://www.circuithero.com
Tein USA
Downey, CA 90241
562-861-9161
http://www.tein.com
By Joey Lee
243 Articles

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