It's that time once again. The birds are chirping, skies are sunny, weather is warm, and most importantly, the pungent scent of test-pipe-equipped exhaust systems are filling the streets of every city across the country, both small and large. Summer is here, and if you're in a state that has suffered through the long, tough winter, there's a good chance you've been forced to wrench on your project car rather than actually drive it. Living in Southern California, as evil as most non-residents would have you believe, does have some major benefits. The most obvious is our mellow weather patterns. We don't have the crushing storms and sub-zero temperatures that force us to cast our money pits to the depths of hibernation toward the end of each year. Regardless of the hand that Mother Nature has dealt all of us, summer has arrived, and if you've been itching to get your build back on the road, now is the time to do it.
The Straight And Narrow
Looking for a way to test your car (and all of those go-fast parts) in a real world environment that gives you the freedom to bury your gas pedal without having to look over your shoulder for cops every few seconds? The eighth or quarter mile track is your answer. If you're a drag fanatic, there's finally some good news. Recently there's been an increase in drag strip activity across the nation. That means more events and more interest. There's no denying that the rush of Honda popularity in the early and mid '90s was a direct result of the drag racing boom that hit during that era. If you love straight line speed and performance, but have never actually ventured onto the track, make your way to a local event. Not sure how things work? Ask questions. There's guaranteed to be plenty of experts on hand who can tell you what you're doing right or wrong, and how to improve your times, so don't be afraid to speak up. Also, please, do us all a favor and stay off the streets with the drag activities. Take it to a strip where it belongs.
This will get you started:
A Turn For The Better
Road race regulars across the nation have a number of outlets to take advantage of when it comes to track days. All you've got to do is jump online and search for a bit, and you're sure to come across an event that will either cater to the type of car you drive, or perhaps something similar. For a little over a hundred bucks, you'll get a full day of fun and excitement that I can almost guarantee you'll want to experience again. Road racing is very addictive, and will no doubt haunt you weeks after you've done it. For those in Southern California, the new Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in Desert Center, CA, is another great track that will be offering more track days for enthusiasts once it opens up. Again, if you're a first timer, give it a try, there's a good chance you're going to become instantly hooked. Contrary to what you've probably read on the web, you don't need a fully built motor, baller suspension, and a thirty-seven point roll cage in order to enjoy a track day. You can even get out there with a stock car and have a blast.
The show and shine kind
And finally, car shows don't have the same amount of "shine" they once did. In the '90s, they brought import fans by the thousands who had no problem waiting in line for hours to get inside and see a mixture of show and race cars on display. Big timers like the Bergenholtz brothers, Shaun Carlson (R.I.P.), Tony Fuchs, and Lisa Kubo often attended the massive events, sharing their record breaking screamers on the red carpet. Even if you had no intentions of ever participating in a car show during those days, you went. As the years have stacked up, participation has faltered, and in an attempt to keep people coming in the door, promoters have added "extras" to their events. However, dirt bike exhibitions, skateboard demos, and fashion shows haven't pulled in the big numbers that they'd hoped for. One event that has always been an outlet for high quality Japanese inspired builds is Import Showoff's Nisei show. The black cloud that loomed overhead last year as Ken Miyoshi announced it would be the final show has been lifted, and he's promised that a 2010 Nisei event will in fact take place. Beyond that, Spocom 2010 and the Remix series car shows are also in effect this year if you're looking to show off your handiwork.
On the more free-spirited side, meets have risen to become a staple within the Honda community. Forum bashers will no doubt tell you that you're "hard parking." I always laugh at comments like this, especially because people who attend meets are interacting with one another, seeing new setups and upgrades first hand, while forum bashers are thinking of cool new terms to try to discredit someone's passion. They're not for everyone, but they're certainly a great way to see new trends and find out what's happening. They're usually free, packed, and can be a lot of fun.
Get up, get out, cut that bull**** out
Believe it or not, you can actually use your car for all of the above. That's right, there's no reason you can't show your car one weekend, drag race it the next, then head over to a road race event and local meet the following weekend. Forget the labels that you see on the forums, this isn't high school. Find your calling on line, log off, get out, and do what you think will make you the happiest. If you're not quite sure what that is yet, don't worry, you've got all summer to figure it out. Get out...