Compass 360 Racing's '06+ Civic SI Trio
There's road racing, and then there's GRAND-AM road racing. They're as different from one another as the gibberish you call your tenth grade book report and polished prose from the likes of Shakespeare's quill.
You can go road racing in your '88 Civic DX bucket. GRAND-AM road racing is restricted to only the upper echelon of newer Hondas, like the '06-'10 Civic Si and first-generation TSX. You can go road racing on any number of tracks, even make-shift ones. GRAND-AM road racing is reserved for North America's most prestigious racing circuits, like Central California's Laguna Seca, Florida's Daytona International Speedway, and Montreal's Circuit Trois-Rivieres. Road racing doesn't have to be expensive. GRAND-AM road racing almost always is-its drivers often paying upwards of tens of thousands of dollars for the chance to compete in any given team's car. Drivers for hire they most often are not.
Astute GRAND-AM followers will recognize Compass360 Racing's trilogy of bright-orange Civic Sis from the team's October, 2009 GRAND-AM Street Tuner class championship finish, where the Canadian-based organization nabbed First Place handily in Driver, Team, and Manufacturer points.
As you'd expect, securing a hat trick touring car championship from the likes of GRAND-AM isn't easy. Engine, suspension, chassis, and safety modification guidelines are strict, which means driver skill, team cohesiveness, and the overall reliability of the cars themselves supersede all else. Engine assembly is paramount. Tolerances you'd typically not consider become of utmost importance. GRAND-AM regulations prohibit altering engine geometry, which means displacement is limited to what Honda's engineers provide in addition to the 0.030-inch overbore that GRAND-AM allows. Such is where Compass360 Racing's longstanding technical partner, Skunk2 Racing, begins its work. The company is responsible for assembling each of the Si's Type R engines, meticulously fitting them with custom forged pistons of top secret nature, balancing their entire rotating assemblies to astoundingly accurate tolerances, and blueprinting even the most remote of minutiae. Per GRAND-AM rules, compression is altered no more than the larger bore and resurfaced head and block allow, but bearing clearances, oil galleys, and piston ring end gaps can all be finessed in an effort to cajole increments of horsepower fractions.
Founded in 1999, GRAND-AM road racing sanctions two series-its Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (known as the KONI Sports Car Challenge in 2009), which hosts the Compass360 Racing threesome, and its Rolex Sports Car Series, where world-renowned competitors like former British Touring Car Championship and Speed World Challenge victors compete head to head. The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge is further subdivided into its Grand Sport class, intended for large-capacity GT-style cars, and its Street Tuner class, created for smaller coupes and sedans, even FWD ones like the Si. Its popularity is no mystery; endurance racing for up to six hours, front-field mash-ups, and hair-splitting finishes that seem to go hand in hand with GRAND-AM racing will do just that. Regarded as one of the most competitive forms of road racing today, GRAND-AM was acquired by NASCAR Holdings in 2008, where today it shares much of the larger organization's framework
GRAND-AM's Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner class is quite possibly motorsports' answer to the sport compact enthusiast and modern-day Honda fan, where production chassis ranging from the Chevrolet Cobalt SS and Mazdaspeed 3 race wheel to wheel alongside Honda's Civic Si, among others. Its rules are lengthy and, at times, convoluted, but despite this it makes for some of the most competitive and compelling road racing to date. The fans agree. GRAND-AM road racing is the fastest growing major motorsports venue currently televised, with an estimated fan base of more than 20 million enthusiasts.
The regulations go on. Street Tuner class competitors are limited to pre-selected, straight-from-the-showroom chassis, American or imported, and are given little leeway in terms of modifications. Simple bolt-ons often taken for granted among other racing realms, like each of the Si's Skunk2 headers and exhaust systems, become portholes to championships. In a field where major suspension components and tires are restricted to series-spec issue, like articles from KONI and Continental, seeking and finding the winning edge becomes all the more challenging.
The ability to brake late and brake effectively is paramount when circuit racing. Although larger or better ventilated braking components are not permitted, the team enhances what Honda provides with custom-fashioned brake ducts and Cobalt pads-both permissible braking modifications. Aside from the few braking upgrades, the series-spec coilovers, simple alignment customizations, and overhauled engines, each Compass360 Racing Civic Si is fitted with and tuned via Hondata engine management systems that help catapult each Si's power output to race-winning, albeit top secret, power levels
Like most endurance racing, GRAND-AM rules require a minimum of one driver change per race, which means the Compass360 team and its stable of three Civics typically feature as much as a six-driver lineup (two per car), as it did in 2009, which consisted of legendary race car driver Randy Pobst and 2009 GRAND-AM Street Tuner class championship winner Christian Miller, both of whom helped propel the team toward its championship finish and numerous podium finishes earlier on. Miller's Driver win combined with Compass360's Team win and Honda's Manufacturer win secured the team its first-ever three-way victory late last year at Virginia International Raceway.
Compass360 Racing has a new driver lineup for 2010, a new non-Honda chassis in the works (all three Civics will still compete, however), but a predictable winning streak. As of early May, 2010, Compass360 Racing is once again favored for all three titles, points leading once again in Driver, Team, and Manufacturer categories.
Compass360 Racing knows Grand-Am road racing.
JDM K20 Type R engines
Reinforced engine mounts
Custom Skunk2 intake systems
Skunk2 MegaPower headers
Skunk2 MegaPower R exhausts
Balanced and blueprinted engines
Custom forged pistons
C&R aluminum radiators
Hondata engine management systems
Series-spec KONI coilovers
Skunk2 front camber plates
Skunk2 rear camber kits
Custom Skunk2 ducts
Wheels & Tires
17-inch Enkei RPF1
225/45-17 series-spec Continental
Custom orange exteriors
King Motorsports roll cages
OMP fire suppression systems
AiM Sports MXL digital dashes
Balance and blueprint this
The phrase "balanced and blueprinted" is one that's often misused, especially among the Honda masses. Balancing simply ensures that an engine's rotating assembly spins as freely as possible with minimal vibration. A properly balanced engine has pistons that weigh the same as one another, rods that weight the same as one another, and a crankshaft, flywheel, clutch, and crankshaft pulley that are each free of balance-disrupting eccentricities. Material can be added by welding or removed from each component to compensate for eccentricities and achieve an optimal balance. Surprisingly, most VTEC engines are well balanced straight from the factory. Blueprinting is little more than reassembling an engine to tighter tolerances for improved performance and wear. Any properly built race engine will undergo both processes, and even some production engines, like Honda's NSX-R, were blueprinted and balanced by a small team of craftsmen. The results? NSX-R engines typically produce upwards of 10 hp more than base-model NSX engines despite both sharing identical engine components, inside and out.