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CR-Z Project Car Preparation - Winter Vacation

Despite the delays we got project CR-Z ready in time for SEMA

Matt “Rodrez” Rodriguez
Feb 4, 2011
Htup_1101_01+dont_believe_the_hype+profile Photo 2/3   |   CR-Z Project Car Preparation - Winter Vacation

Pure panic ...
Though I wish it were 12, Honda Tuning magazine is always scheduled for nine issues per year. For an editor, this would usually mean a nice little break after the winter issue is complete, right? Well, sort of. When dealing with just the magazine, there is a three week period of idle time that most would refer to as a "vacation." I've heard this word thrown around quite a bit, but have yet to experience it for myself. I view the time away as more of a catch up period. The search for new cars never stops, and though the short pause excuses me from dreaded deadlines, cocky car owners demanding covers, and everything else that comes with the editorial role, there's always work to be done. Still, with the lull in action, I can breathe easy and relax a bit. That mirage quickly began to disintegrate as SEMA 2010 began to creep up. The CR-Z project car that was to be delivered to Honda Tuning in August was severely delayed. With a roll of red tape stifling the car, September soon swept by and before I knew it, October was slapping me in the face. With just a few weeks left before SEMA, and my mind set on building something, anything, to display in the Honda booth, Father Time placed his hour and minute hands firmly around my throat.

Htup_1101_01+dont_believe_the_hype+profile Photo 2/3   |   CR-Z Project Car Preparation - Winter Vacation

Crunch time ...
With the car finally in my possession, my Blackberry was viciously abused by a ridiculous number of emails and phone calls that rocketed back and forth in regards to the build. Proposals were written at every waking moment, and thankfully, with the help of some very trusting sponsors, the parts began to arrive.

The final moments ...

  • Less than two weeks before the CR-Z is to be delivered to Honda's transport company, the car's only upgrade is a lowered suspension. Import Tuner tech guru Scott Tsuneishi asks if I'd help him complete a Power Pages article on the new CR-Z for his mag. Needing to dyno the car anyway, the timing was perfect. We visit Elton Lo of Raceline, install an exhaust and intake system, hit the dyno, and run into some issues with recharging the assist battery between pulls. After trying a few different tricks, Elton figures it out and we finish, but the day is already over.

    Htup_1103_02_o+crz_project_car_preparation+christiane_cyborg_santos Photo 3/3   |   Favorite SEMA moment: Gil "Circuit Hero" Salazar and Ryan "Rywire" Basseri getting worked in an arm wrestling match against Strikeforce Women's champ Christiane "Cyborg" Santos.
  • The next week consists of waking up, going to the office, going home, and working on the CR-Z. As I'm installing some aero pieces, my neighbor walks by with his dog and gives me a "what the hell is going on?" type of look. Possibly because they've seen no less than nine different press, personal, and project cars come and go over the past year and probably assume I'm a drug dealer, or just find it strange that I'm modifying a car that they haven't even seen on the street yet. I shoot a "maybe you should think about cleaning up your dog poop for once" glance toward them and I'm right back to work.

  • With only a week in front of me, I can't avoid the pair of bucket seats in the garage any longer. As much as I'd like to install them, no one is offering seat brackets and there aren't any companies that can prototype them in time. However, Louie at L-Con agrees to create some brackets, and I head to his new shop for what I think is going to be a 3-hour mock-up. Eleven hours later, Louie is ready to kick me square in the groin, and he vows to never, ever, fabricate a set of adjustable bucket brackets again. Also, my buddy Big Mike is nice enough to pick up my tires from Falken, but I have no idea how I'm going to get them home. Toying with delirium, I decide to try squeezing them into the CR-Z. Not only do they fit, but I'm able to add one of the OEM seats, a few boxes, and my camera bag!

  • One day left, and I'm off to DC Sports to work with Koyo on installing their new aluminum radiator. I also have to pick up a hood, hood dampers, and a variety of detail pieces. With the new hood on the car, and my ability to "Tetris" the full set of tires into the hatch, I try to fit the stock hood and radiator into the CR-Z. Miraculously, it gobbles up all of the above, though now my seat is so far forward I'm pressed against the steering wheel like a blue-haired bingo champ. Regardless, it fits. I get home, eat, and I'm right back in the garage for the final night of tying up loose ends. Simple things like changing out hardware and installing dampers seems complex, as I'm completely exhausted at this point. Four hours later I call it quits and collapse in bed.

  • The final day arrives, and I'm off to Church's dyno to meet up with Doug of Hondata and Mike of Evasive Motorsports to tune the Project Si sedan for Super Lap. HT feature writer and good friend Joey Lee arrives with the custom stickers he cut for the CR-Z and we get to work applying them after the dyno session. Incredibly, everything goes smoothly, and Joey and I drop the car off safely at the transport company.

  • It's SEMA week and moments after I arrive, I head straight to the Honda booth to see the CR-Z display. The tough weeks prior to the event melt away as I look over my first official SEMA project. The epic schmoozing that occurs at every SEMA takes place throughout the week along with multiple late-night escapades. Just a few days after arriving back home, Joey and I pick the car up once again, and bring it to Evasive Motorsports. In approximately 10 hours, the car is headed for Super Lap Battle and I have to fit the car with a new aero kit and wing before the car is prepped for track duty.

  • This vacation thing is tougher than I ever imagined.

    By Matt “Rodrez” Rodriguez
    69 Articles

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