Robert Tighe's '10 Honda Accord
You think the story here is about a 2010 Accord and a B-series engine, and you're wrong. The seemingly confused chassis and engine pairing is merely tertiary to a much more interesting combination, like Hondas and stock car racing-stock car racing as in NASCAR, only with less money thrown around and a lot fewer fans.
It's likely you've never heard the words "Honda" and "stock car racing" in the same sentence. That's entirely expected. Bedfellows they are not. Even inside ISCARS (International Sport Compact Auto Racing Series)-the only one of its kind that officially recognizes sport compact vehicles and oval track racing-Hondas are few. But to say that they are few is being all too generous. Look back at last year's ISCARS driver lineup and you won't see Honda's name anywhere. It wouldn't be until this year that Honda would make its debut and Robert Tighe would park his Pontiac GTO for a '10 Accord to make that list much more interesting.
NASCAR followers presumably are familiar with ISCARS. You presumably are not. Born from the NASCAR Baby Grand National Racing Association back in 1975, ISCARS has since reincarnated itself no less than ten times, fizzled out entirely in 2005, and evolved into such series as the Darlington DASH Series, the NASCAR Goody's DASH Series, and the IPOWER DASH Series (among six others), all before settling into ISCARS, which today is sanctioned by the ASA (American Speed Association). NASCAR's Baby Grand National Series began as one for American-made compact sedans matched with four-cylinder engines only, and remained that way until 1998 at which time six-cylinder powerplants were admitted. The decision made sense in light of big NASCAR's decision to phase out anything smaller than a V-8 from its Busch Series. The teams were mostly lower budget, and built their cars themselves in backyards and local garages.
Although ISCARS' official NASCAR-sanctioned roots date back to 1975, unofficially, it was really two years prior to that. At the lead of former racers Charlie Triplett, J.V. Reins, and Roger Hamby-and on former NASCAR Cup (now Winston Cup) owner Bill Ellis' own track-a small group of drivers began racing in rural North Wilkesboro, NC. Incidentally, Ellis did not continue racing, but the remaining drivers founded the BGNRA (Baby Grand National Racing Association). Word has it that the organization's name was derived from the cars' resemblance to the Grand National cars of the period-yesterday's Sprint Cup cars, you might call them. Early on, the series was dubbed "The poor man's way to race."
Predictable slogans aside, the poor need not apply. Tighe's FNO Race Cars-built tube-frame chassis dressed in its ARP aluminum Accord body isn't necessarily for the cash deficient. And what's underneath its hood proves as much. Despite the fact that Tighe's Accord is little more of an Accord than Stephen Papadakis' drag Civic was a Civic, for example, intuition tells you that there ought to be some sort of 2.4L K-series or J-series V-6 inside. There isn't. Instead, Tighe will rely on, arguably, Honda's most used and abused, albeit trusted, engine to date, the B-series. But, just as the chassis is no regular Accord, its B-series is no regular B-series. Underneath the aluminum body is a DART B-series engine block. DART developed its Honda engine block program nearly a decade ago to fill the void for those looking for larger displacement B-series engines. Unfortunately, most sanctioning bodies, including the NHRA, outlawed such non-OEM castings, contributing to the DART block's lack of fanfare. Luckily for Tighe, ISCARS has no such regulation. The taller deck block allows for a longer stroke Crower crankshaft to be paired with Crower rods and custom 13.0:1 forged pistons, all of which contribute to the engine's near 300hp ranking. All of this is sandwiched to a B16A top end that's been ported by Endyn, fitted with Skunk2 cams, and matched with 52mm TWM individual throttle bodies tuned via a Hondata S300 engine management system.
Accord bodies, B-series blocks, and Hondata ECUs aside, stock car racing and FWD Hondas will never make sense. To address the elephant in the room, Tighe and team looked to BorgWarner's infamous T-10 four-speed transmission to convert this Accord to a RWD configuration. BorgWarner's T-10 gearbox was invented around the same time as dirt. OEMs like Ford, Chevrolet, Pontiac, AMC, and Chrysler began using iterations of it more than 50 years ago while hot rodders latched onto it shortly thereafter. It wasn't uncommon for competing manufacturers to source their drivetrain technology from the same place in the 1950s, which allowed the OEMs to focus more on things like behemoth engine blocks and big-ass carburetors that introduced fuel into the combustion chambers, not by dripping, but by pouring. The variations of the T-10 are seemingly endless, like input shaft teeth and output shaft teeth configurations; case material; gear material, shape, and ratio. It goes on. To make it all work, a massive four-inch driveshaft connects the custom rear end to the T-10 gearbox, which pushes the right gears into the right place by means of a Quarter Master twin-disc clutch. And if the twin-disc clutch doesn't make you a firm believer that this Accord is no joke, then it's doubtful that the double-adjustable Pro Shocks coilovers, 11-inch solid Outlaw brakes, and Bassett Racing wheels will, none of which you'd bolt onto anything less than a track-only machine such as Tighe's.
Is the ISCARS DASH Touring Series and cars like Tighe's NASCAR fans' answer to sport compact drag racing, drifting, and the modern-day import enthusiast, Honda-centric world as we know it? Could be. Could the Honda brand stand to be spread around a bit among said NASCAR fans? Absolutely.
Bolts & Washers
DART tall-deck B-Series engine block
B16A cylinder head
BorgWarner T-10 four-speed transmission
Quarter Master twin-disc clutch
Custom four-inch driveshaft
Custom rear end, ARP flywheel bolts
R&T Autoworks engine mounts
Skunk2 Pro 1+ camshafts
Endyn CNC porting and polishing
Custom 13.0:1 pistons and rings
Crower connecting rods
Canton Racing oil pan
TWM 52mm individual throttle bodies
Pro-Fabrication Tri-Y header
R&T Autoworks/Pro-Fabrication exhaust
Griffin aluminum radiator
Russell steel-braided radiator hoses
Unorthodox Racing crankshaft pulley
Unorthodox Racing alternator pulley
Unorthodox Racing power steering pulley
RC Engineering 550cc fuel injectors
Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump
Russell Competition fuel filter
TWM fuel pressure regulator
Russell steel-braided fuel lines and fittings
NGK spark plugs
MSD Super Conductor spark plug wires
MSD 6AL ignition
MSD Blaster ignition coil
MSD Pro-Billet distributor
Hondata S300, A'PEXi Power FC
Pro Shocks coilovers, Eibach springs
Outlaw 11-inch rotors, Outlaw pads
Outlaw four-piston calipers
Custom steel-braided lines
fNO Race Cars tube chassis
ARP aluminum body
ButlerBuilt racing seats
Woodward steering wheel
Wilwood pedal assembly
A'PEXi EL II System Meters
Mom, Dad Jason, Jared at Klotz Lubricants Chris at Voodoo Ride, Masaki at A'PEXi Shawn at Unorthodox Racing, Brian at Butler
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RWD Honda stock car
Say What? The K-Series Alternative
Used to be that if you wanted a B-series engine any bigger than, say, about 2.0L, you'd sell your B-series and get an H-series. Boring would only get you so far, and having a custom crankshaft made just wasn't cost-effective when there were H22A engines aplenty. Of course, sometime during the mid 1990s it was determined that select '88-'91 Prelude crankshafts would bolt into B-series blocks with minimal machine work, but that process, too, was expensive and above most enthusiasts' heads. It'd also leave you with a piss poor rod-to-stroke ratio unless you had the wherewithal to weld an extension plate on top of the block's deck, which you probably didn't. That's where domestic engine block supplier DART came into the picture, offering its pre-sleeved, tall-deck Honda B-series blocks to the masses. Interestingly enough, though, they didn't sell like the hotcakes that you think they are. Sanctioning bodies such as the NHRA deemed them illegal since the blocks, technically, were not of OEM origin, which left them for the weekend racers and the street guys. It's a shame, really, because the DART B-series block isn't just the H22A alternative; when built properly, it just might also be the K-series alternative.