Chris Miller's '95 Civic
Chris Miller is summed up in a phrase: "To all the people who jumped ship, or hate on me because of what I do, how does it feel?" As an East Coast native, Chris had some thick skin to start with, but looking at his history, it's hard not to be at least a little jealous. "I got on a Trans-Am racing team right out of high school and did the traveling thing with them. When I had time at home, I worked on building NRG Tech." Before Chris was even able to rent a car legally, he'd already had a half decade's worth of professional crewing under his belt, and a well established reputation as a tuner. As Chris got older though, the schedule began to take its toll. "I got kind of burnt out on the traveling and never being home, so I stopped doing that and started doing the NRG Tech thing full time." Chris's reputation for quality work and a willingness to help anyone do almost anything certainly contribute to the phones ringing off the hook at NRG Tech. "My heart's in tuning imports, but I'll work with anyone. I've been doing a lot of work with domestic cars, and we tuned the world's fastest street Corvette a while back. We can do anything though-engines, chassis work, tuning, you name it." Chris speaks of his accomplishments in the same tone most of us read a grocery list, so I'll cut through his humility; Chris neglected to mention, until asked, that he runs "50s." Not trap speeds, not reaction times, 50s mean 8.50-second quarter mile runs, which, in case you're not familiar, is deadly fast. In fact, it's fast enough to currently hold the title of the world's fastest FWD street car. Speaking to his humility, Chris said in regards to his record setting run, "we weren't trying to do 50s, we just wanted to see what the car would do, so I pushed it, and Bam! 50s."
Instead of starting with a purpose built chassis designed to shatter world records, Chris's record setting run started with a daily driven '95 Civic hatchback. "This hatch was built to be something fun to run on the streets, but stuff started getting out of hand out there, so we brought it to the track and it eventually grew into what we have now." Starting its life as a commuter, the Civic first got treated to an NRG Tech Custom 10-point cage, and the associated parachute and safety gear. Traction is a top priority for any race car, so to keep the Civic's 15-inch Weld Racing wheels firmly planted, Chris and the NRG Tech crew modified a set of Strange coilovers and installed one on each corner.
Prior to the hatchback's current world record-setting engine setup, it had a few incarnations, but a race in '07 set it apart-at least visually. Chris recalls, "we had it painted a really nice Lexus gray, but when we got to the pits there were something like three other gray Civics there. After that race I knew we needed to change it up. No one was really doing vinyl wraps in '07, so when I suggested it, it was something new." After kicking a few designs and colors back and forth, Chris's designer came back with an Orange Camouflage that Chris decided to take a shot at. He remembers thinking back, "when it came back on steelies and no moldings, I didn't really like it." Between then and now, the orange has grown on Chris and apparently it was worth keeping. "Now I'm glad I kept it. People recognize us by the car's appearance, and it's become who we are; the guys with the orange camouflage hatchback. I remember we were in Maryland and some guy ran up to us with a newspaper with the car in it. Apparently they'd used it in an ad for the race. It was crazy." Chris's car had the attention he was looking for, now he had to make the power to back it up. Chris and the NRG Tech guys got to work turning the hatch into an eight-second commercial for the best NRG Tech has to offer. From the custom pistons, rings, exhaust manifold, and cylinder head, to the NRG Tech radiator and lubrication system, the Civic was draped in all things NRG Tech. Don't think Chris is stingy with his best power adders either, since all of the parts Chris runs on his Civic are open for purchase to the public.
"A lot of the cars that are currently in our class are running some of our parts. Most of them are my customers." Although Chris does make most of the stuff he needs in-house, there are limitations. The rest of the 1,000+ horsepower build comes courtesy of some of the best go-fast companys on the planet. Precision covers the GT4272r turbocharger, and Wilson takes care of both the 90mm throttle body, and the intake manifold. Bosch, Kinsler, and EFI Wizard keep the Civic's thirst quenched, and the engine mounts come by way of Avid Racing.
With a setup as aggressive as Chris's, you'd think he'd spend half the time every race day fixing something that gave up the ghost. Chris says otherwise though. "I mean, stuff breaks yeah, but our first ever engine failure was after running the same setup for three seasons, and we had that fixed in less than a week. It's not like I keep spare engines or transmissions laying around. I'll work all day on my customer's cars, then after we close I'll work on my personal stuff." Mr. Miller's dedication to his craft is a big part of his success, and the associated haters. "I'm at every race. Being a racer, I know that having your tuner on hand to make on-the-fly adjustments will get the best results, so even if I'm not racing, I'll be out in the pits helping my customers tweak their setup. Support is what keeps this sport alive. They support me, and I support them as much as I can." Chris is not planning on stopping anytime soon. Even though he is currently the fastest man in the world in a FWD street Civic, he takes it all in stride, and pulls no punches about the industry. "I love this sport compact (racing) thing, it's been great to me and I'd like to see it taken back to where it started, so kids can see that these are street cars that can be built by anyone. Most of these guys running 600+ horsepower on the streets can easily bracket race their way into a little bit of recognition, and then they'll get hooked." As you're reading this, Chris has some things in the works to keep your head turning. Although I'm not at liberty to say exactly what that is, be prepared.
B18c1 (2.01 Liter)
Avid Racing engine mounts
NRG Tech 1200+ hp long block package
NRG Tech pistons
NRG Tech spec connecting rods by GRP
NRG Tech modified Honda oil pump
NRG Tech radiator
NRG Tech CNC cylinder head
NRG Tech liquid to air intercooler
NRG Tech exhaust manifold
NRG Tech downpipe
Tial 60mm wastegate
Custom Web camshafts
Modified Web rock arms
Ferrea valve springs
Bosch motor sports 413 fuel pumps
EFI wizard 1000cc injectors x 4
EFI wizard 2000cc injectors x 4
Wilson mainfolds intake manifold
Wilson mainfolds fuel rail
Wilson mainfolds 90mm throttle body
Kinsler Fuel Injection fuel lines
Kinsler Fuel Injection fuel filter
Kinsler Fuel Injection fuel pressure regulator
Precision turbo and engine gt4272r turbo
AEM boost controller
AEM series 2 engine management
AEM CDI ignition
Racepak V300 data logger
Racepak IQ3 logger dash
Driveshaft Shop differential
Driveshaft Shop axles
Spec Carbon twin disk clutch
Spec ultra pro light flywheel
Strange 12.5-inch Brake rotors
EBC Green brake pads
Mark Williams brake calipers
Redline brake fluid
Wheels & Tires
(FR)Weld racing wheels 15x10 / 26x10
(RR)Weld racing wheels 15x3.5 / 24.5x 3.5
Modified JoJo Callos three-piece front end
Konstant Design/Graffic Design vinyl wrap
NRG Tech 10pt cage
Stroud Safety 5pt harness
Stroud Safety window net
Stroud Safety parachute
Kirkey Aluminum racing seat
Sparco steering wheel
G-Force shift knob
My wife Kristin
All the guys in the shop
Tom, Billy, Pepsi, Gio
Anthony G (Other mother brother)
All my friends and family
Screen name or nickname
Building Hondas for how long
Your dream car
The car you see in the pics of this article.
All the people out there that don't believe certain things are possible
What's playing in your iPod/CD/MP3 player right now
Probably some crappy music.
Greatest movie of all time
The Goonies, duh!
Chris Miller owns, operates, and represents NRG Tech all day, and he's been doing this for nearly a decade. In this industry, that makes him either very lucky, or very dedicated. Chris tends to go with the latter; he knows how important it is to actually be out there and support both his customers and his sponsors. "I will be at every race. The few sponsors I do have are really good people who pay me to be out at races making sure their name gets out there, not for me to say 'oh I'm sick' and skip a race to chill out on my boat. They hold up their end of the bargain and I make sure I hold up mine as best as I can." This consistent dedication to his craft begs the question: what races have you missed? The response I received wasn't the Chris I was used too. "I don't miss races. If there's a reason, like family stuff, that's fine. But personally, I've never missed a race. That old saying is true, 'Race on Sunday, sell on Monday.' If I'm not at the track racing or supporting my customers and their cars, I don't get work, don't get paid, and then my business dies." Although the more serious tone Chris carried wasn't the one I was used too, it was greatly appreciated to see a man so willing to put in the time. Chris said it best: "really man, I just love this sh*t."