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Getting A Baseline - Our Garage

Setting the bar for Improvement at Buttonwillow.

Sean Klingelhoefer
Sep 29, 2011
Photographer: Staff
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Since Leroy is being built with the intention of running in Super Lap Battle, it only makes sense to use the same course that hosts the Finals for testing. That track is the now-infamous Buttonwillow Raceway, which has become America’s version of Tsukuba—a track where records are set and broken. My personal goal is to get the car at around the 2:00 minute mark in street class trim, which is a very tall order.

For the test day, I attended a track event put on by the guys at Speed Ventures, and it just so happened that this day would also play host to a new series they’ve started called the HFF challenge designed specifically for Honda vehicles. Using the points structure for the challenge, my car scored a whopping 1.5 points, which placed me in the bottom end of the street class which has a maximum of 4 points. However, I really wasn’t too concerned with competing but more with finding the current potential of the car so we have somewhere to start development. Besides, with less than 100hp I wouldn’t be much of a challenge anyway.

2018 Honda Civic
$18,940 Base Model (MSRP) 28/40 MPG Fuel Economy

As much as I had hoped for ideal conditions to test the car’s performance, it didn’t seem to be in the cards. The first session of the day proved to be a very wet and slippery one. In fact, on my out lap I very nearly spun the car twice, and on the first flying lap I watched countless other cars go off. I decided to back out a bit and just use the session for observation since this was only my second time on BW. Ironically, when the session was checkered I had posted the 5th fastest time in my run group out of 30 cars, but that would change drastically when the track dried out for the second session.

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Fortunately, the sun came out in time for the next session and I was able to get some decent laps in, although the track still wasn’t up to optimal temperatures it was better than the slip-n-slide from the first run. As soon as the green flag came out all the cars that couldn’t put the power down in the first session passed me like I was standing still, but I still had plenty of room to start getting comfortable with the car. After the session I checked timing and scoring to find, to my surprise, I was running consistently in the 2:23-:24 bracket with a fastest lap of 2:23.256. I figured I could probably take another two seconds off in the next session.

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Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and as quickly as the sun came out it disappeared again and the track was covered by rain for the third session. Since the track didn’t appear as if it were going to dry out for the rest of the day and the drive back through the grapevine was going to get worse by the minute I decided to call it a day and pack up. At the end of the day I was still able to somehow finish 2nd in the street class for HFF with my time, beating out some higher-powered cars in the process.

The moral of the story is that you don’t have to have a super-baller JDM’d out car to get on track, you just need some decent tires and brakes and you’ll have the time of your life. All in all, I was pleased with the baseline performance of the car and think there is plenty of room for improvement, but with 23 seconds to find somewhere I certainly have my work cut out for me. There are still a few suspension and driving technique changes I want to test before throwing in a motor, which should take care of 10-15 seconds alone. I hope you guys follow along and find inspiration to get your car out there!

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Want to track your car?
As any racer will tell you the best mod you can buy to improve your lap times is seat time. The guys at Speed Ventures offer track days all across California at affordable prices with groups for all skill levels. If you have a front-wheel-drive Honda you should definitely check out the new HFF Challenge as it’s picking up in popularity with every event—and remember if you don’t have a FF Honda there are plenty of other challenges for different types of cars so check them out for yourself at


Compton, CA 90220
Buddy Club USA
Ontario, CA 91761
Falken Tire
Fontana, CA 92335
Speed Ventures
Los Angeles, CA
By Sean Klingelhoefer
211 Articles



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