One question we get asked a lot regarding FF Battle is how we go about selecting our contestants. Truth be told we don’t really have any guidelines to our selection process, we simply invite cars we like and think make a good match for the event. Sometimes they happen to friends or friends-of-friends, sometimes they contact us asking to compete and sometimes, in the case of Henry Ng, it’s a random event.
At the end of last year whilst perusing our reader’s rides inbox, I stumbled upon what appeared to be a pretty serious Integra Type R. The mods list wasn’t mind-blowing, but compared to our usual run-of-the-mill submissions, it was in a league of its own. Things got more interesting when I got to the attached images, which contained photos of the car where it truly belonged—on a racetrack.
Peaking my interest I decided to get in touch with the car’s owner and asked him a few questions about FF Battle. As it turned out he had read about the first two events and thought it was a great contest, so I asked him if he might be interested in competing. To my surprise, Henry was totally down, and some six months later he drove his Type R over 2500 miles to compete and had the time of his life in the process. The following is his story.
I was asked to write a story about my experience on my road trip to FF Battle 3. I didn’t know where to start because so many great things happened. I believe Super Street is starting something really great here by bringing forth an event with this kind of nature; hopefully this event will blow up in the future! When you have a group of true enthusiasts with the biggest hearts gathered for an event with a common interest that they are most passionate about... you just can’t go wrong with this combo!
You should not hesitate to apply for this event next year if you have a common interest as we do, you will not regret it. They are not looking for professional racers, but for casual tuners! Thankfully my car made it through in one piece; just make sure you cover all the maintenance and inspection before you make your trip! I would like to personally thank Sean Klingelhoefer from Super Street again for doing such a great job and making this all possible. If not, I wouldn’t have such an epic story to tell for years to come!—Henry
(This is the condensed version; for Henry’s full story, go to superstreetonline.com)
Day 1 – Toronto, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan
Distance Traveled: 414 km (257 mi)
Drive Duration: 3.5 hours
Got off work, rushed through dinner and tried to get started on the trip but I actually didn’t make it onto the highway until 8:50 p.m. which was way behind schedule. Luckily, the drive to Detroit didn’t take that long. I got to the border at midnight and arrived at the hotel at 1 a.m. A quick tip for people looking to drive long distance, bring a pair of gloves with some padding to drive with. The thickness will help absorb the vibration from your wheel so that your hands won’t be numb by the end of the day.
Highlight of the night—crossing the border three different officers asked me where I was going. When I answered with “Driving to LA” they all gave me the same blank look for three seconds and followed with a “why?” The drive tonight seemed quick or maybe I was just telling myself it was easy so I can start getting comfortable with the long drives, because I already know that today’s ride was only the tip of the iceberg. Tomorrow the real journey begins!
Day 2 – Detroit, Michigan to York, Nebraska
Distance Traveled: 1741 km (1082 mi)
Drive Duration: 12.5 hours
I had many people telling me to take care of myself while I was in Detroit and thankfully my car was still there in the morning. I ate breakfast at the safest food joint I could think of, McDonald’s, and I was a little too relaxed in the morning starting my trip late at 10:45 a.m. Once again, I was behind schedule! I drove by a Brembo factory before leaving Detroit! I was very, very tempted to turn around and find out if they had any warehouse sales!
I wanted to take it easy on the car, so I’ve kept it mostly 110-120 kph (68-74.5 mph) for the whole trip today. I took a break and filled up every three to four hours, at 1:45 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 9:10 p.m. and arrived at 12:30 a.m. The car held up well on the trip and I’m really thankful that I had all the maintenance done before I started the trip; special thanks to Ivan at iGarage and Albert & Frank at Speedstar! The only issue so far was the weak crank when starting the car. I’m going to have Evasive Motorsports take a look once I’m in LA while I’m there for my oil change.
The hardest part was the heat from noon to 5 p.m., and without AC it felt like sauna inside my cabin. I just blasted the air blower and pretended I had AC but the sweat dripping off my face and arms was somewhat distracting. Best part was when it started to rain mid day at about 6 p.m., which brought down the heat a lot, and with some clouds the heat inside the car was a lot more bearable. From 5 p.m. on, I could really feel the physical pain kick in and sure enough, two hours after that the mental tiredness joined the party. The second hardest part to endure for the day, after the mid-day heat, is to stay awake after dinner. Tomorrow’s route’s gonna’ be 100 km longer, oh boy!
Day 3 – York, Nebraska to Richfield, Utah
Distance Traveled: 2791 km (1734 mi)
Drive Duration: 14.5 hours
Wow, my head feels like it’s going to explode! Two nights of very little sleep in a row is really no good for a long road trip, I definitely need to take a nap middle of the day on today’s route. Luckily I have a personal sweat wiper, human fan operator, waitress, and in-car entertainer, thanks to my wife, Ada! It really makes a difference to have company on a long trip.
I ended up sleeping only five hours and with an early breakfast, I decided to move out at 8 a.m. Driving in the morning was nice, the air was cool and there wasn’t any traffic. It was similar to my friend’s suggestion to drive at night instead because it is cooler and the car won’t overheat, but I can’t stay up in the dark. Driving in the morning was just as good and by noon I was able to drive 400 km (250 mi) and that included my lunch break too.
After leaving Nebraska, I was in Colorado and soon found myself facing the Arapaho Forest Mountains and it was the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever faced. The initial plan was to take a break after noon to take a quick nap since I only had five hours of sleep last night, but driving through Arapaho I just couldn’t stop! I didn’t even have time to feel tired because turn after turn I was seeing amazing views one after another. I didn’t make the stop until 3 p.m. when I reached one of the villages within the mountains and took my nap at McDonalds (yes, again).
The two eight-mile stretches of down slope were really crazy—you basically have to ride your brakes the whole way through and they have 1 km long vertical ramps for trucks to run up on and roll back down if they couldn’t turn or brake in time (Apparently they don’t have runaway truck ramps in Canada.—SK). The other amazing drive in the mountains was the thirteen miles of twisties around the cliffs, and even though I wasn’t driving at the limit, it was really fun nonetheless.
Right after the end of the mountains was the border of Utah, which was just more and more desert. It was getting so insanely hot and humid we couldn’t stand it but we drove for one-and-a-half hours before there was a rest stop! Luckily we were good on fuel, getting stranded in the middle of the desert would’ve sucked donkey balls. I still had to go another 200 km in fields and mountains crossing the Black Dragon until I’ve reached my hotel at Richfield. These places are so deserted; I drove for two hours and only saw five vehicles going my direction, and the majority of the time I was staring at pitch black in all three of my mirrors. Quite the scary sight really, at least now I am only a little over 900 km (560 mi) away from LA!!
Day 4 – Richfield, Utah to Los Angeles, California
Distance Traveled: 3699 km (2298 mi)
Drive Duration: 8.5 hours
The fourth day was especially tough because the pain and fatigue from the previous days never went away. By the second hour of driving in the morning, you can start feeling your neck, feet and back stiffen up and start hurting already. Then there’s the desert, I probably said it already but I’ll say it again. Driving with no AC through the desert is NO FUN (No kidding, I drove gutted no AC cars in AZ for years.—SK)! I think it was coincidentally beneficial that my wife and I started to pick up hot yoga just two months before this trip. If we didn’t have the experience from hot yoga we might not have survived.
I reached LA just in time for rush hour and the freeway was very crowded but the direction going into the city was barely clogged most of the way, I don’t think I saw many people going below speed limit! One thing I’ve notice is that the roads in LA really aren’t as good as I thought they would be. I have no idea how you could survive with a Hellaflush ride! Lucky my car was Hellahigh and I survived all the difficult areas, those plaza entrances are mad high!
I took my time to settle down at the hotel before heading out again for dinner. I chose The Grove to have dinner because my wife really loves the Cheesecake Factory. The night air here is really nice, I’m enjoying it a lot so far. The road trip was definitely worthwhile and I’m finally in LA baby!
Day 5 – LA, California (Evasive Motorsports)
Distance Traveled (in LA): 276 km (171 mi)
I woke up this morning and headed over to Evasive Motorsports to get my engine oil flushed after the long trip and have the tires rotated to get ready for the battle. Was I ever glad I booked this appointment; Evasive is by far the highest quality shop I have ever set foot in. They were highly recommended by the Super Street crew and no doubt they were as friendly and professional as described. The mechanics were very knowledgeable and were able to observe and point out every little detail of my car. It is obvious that they have benefited from all the project cars and race cars built over the years.
I was 100% sure that I would pay Evasive a visit even if the Super Street guys never mentioned it to me since I’ve always followed their EVO and S2000 race car builds. It’s also a coincidence that I’m a huge fan of Voltex and had previously owned a Silverstone AP2 S2000, so it’s only natural that I have great respect for these guys and sure enough, they did not disappoint. Unfortunately, the legendary Voltex S2000 was not at the shop today but I was still happy to have a chance to better acquaint myself with their Cyber EVO.
Day 6 – LA (Fun in the Sun)
Distance Traveled (in LA) – 413 km (257 mi)
It seems like I’m going through the same routine each day: sleeping at 2 a.m. and waking up super-early to head out—same bad schedule as my drive down. There aren’t enough hours in one day! I thought I would be getting more time to rest after arriving in LA… wow, was I ever wrong. I need to wake up early this Friday and Saturday for the event too since I’m up first on Dyno Day and Track Day starts at 7 a.m.
This morning we picked up our beach towels and headed over to Venice Beach for some sunbathing. On the way, I spotted a nice blonde driving a white NA1 NSX—WOW! The sun was late coming out so we had some nice French toast and a spinach omelet breakfast near the beach. We grabbed a soothing cup of coffee before taking a nap on the sand. It was so nice and relaxing—just what we needed!
Day 7 – LA (Evasive Motorsports, Super Street photo shoot)
Distance Traveled (in LA) – 636 km (395 mi)
This morning was my second visit to Evasive Motorsports to get some Stoptech front rotors installed. My rotors were slightly warped and I was feeling vibration when braking. Since I didn’t want any regrets on Saturday I had Evasive source a set and install them. Results were firm and steady braking which will definitely help me before I attack those turns.
I’m not anticipating winning any events the next two days, but I’m sure it’s going to be loads of fun! Getting to meet with some of the country’s biggest tuners and builders, and of course racing with them, is one experience I’ve always dreamed of and never thought would ever come true. I’m really looking forward to meeting the Circuit Hero ITR since that car’s build (previous and current) has been my biggest inspiration both before and after I picked up my ITR.
I spotted Paris while I was heading out for lunch in Beverly Hills, after which I went down a few streets to meet with Sean, the famous Super Street Editor, for my photo shoot (for the record, I’m not famous and I live more than a few streets from BH.—SK). It was an absolute pleasure meeting him and his friend Rhett who owns an ITR and will be competing in the event as well.
Day 8 – LA (Dyno Day, Beverly Hills, Yamashiro)
Distance Traveled (in LA) – 824 km (512 mi)
I woke up early to try and make it to Raceline in time, but once again I’ve underestimated LA traffic. I was hoping that I would skip the morning rush hour when I left at 7:20 a.m., but I still had to sit in traffic. I was starting to get upset since every participant only gets a thirty-minute window. I managed to get there just in time as they were still setting up.
As time went by, more and more guys showed up and got on the dyno. Some were driven and others were towed. Many referred to me as “the guy who drove down from Canada.” It was really amazing to hear all the VTEC screams; a few cars were really loud. One CR-X in particular was so loud I felt like my heart was about to pop!
It was really nice getting a chance to meet Big Mike, Ryan and a few other guys. I left just after 12 p.m. so I didn’t get to see all the rides, but I’ll meet them anyway. Everyone got their assigned car numbers and stickers today. My car probably has a little too many decals now, when I get back to Toronto I’m going to remove some of the stickers for a cleaner look. It’s starting get a little ricey now.
One difficult thing here in LA is the traffic. All the freeways in the city core are congested all-day and everyday! It’s great that I could use the carpool lane with my wife though (technically, the I-10 is 3+ on weekdays, good thing you didn’t get caught!—SK). I really don’t know how the modified car owners survive here the plaza entrances get more and more scary each time. They are so steep and deep. Then there would be random potholes and obstacles on the road.
There was a pit at one of the freeway on-ramps, and as I drove by it I heard a loud thump and I could have sworn my front end came off! Luckily my front end held together and everything was fine. I also encountered another on-ramp with two mountains of cement and sewer caps at the top—I avoided the bigger one but the small one still gave my car a big hit! I’m so thankful I bit the bullet for authentic rims and again I avoided serious damage. I don’t know how you Cali guys survive this day in and day out!
I went over to Beverly Hills again for a last visit to walk around. Every few steps I would spot a Bentley, Aston Martin, Maserati or Porsche Panamera. High-end cars everywhere! I had dinner at Yamashiro Japanese Cuisine and the view of LA from the top of the hills is beautiful! What a great way to spend my last night in LA. Tomorrow, I’ll be waking up at 5 a.m. and checking out by 6 a.m. to get to the track in time for the driver’s meeting. After the battle I’ll be off to Vegas for my first returning night. Sleeping early and getting some rest, tomorrow’s the big day!!!
Day 9 – LA (FF BATTLE!)
Total Distance Covered to Date: 5038 km (3130 mi)
Last night, I got less than five hours of sleep because I had to have everything packed and ready to go for this morning. Plus, I needed to be at the track, which is over an hour out of town, by 7:30 a.m. for the drivers meeting—it was a little hectic. I woke up by five something in the morning, rolled everything out and packed it into the car. The big luggage didn’t help either, but after some work it all fit and we were able to take off on time.
Arriving at the track, the sheer view of the facility and the grand stands was as spectacular as any of the scenery along the way of my travel here. The size of Auto Club Speedway left my jaw-dropping; it was nothing like I’ve seen before (We call ‘em Super Speedways here in ‘merica.—SK). I’ve never been to a NASCAR track but this was way beyond my expectations. The stands could probably fit ten-thousand spectators (the grandstands alone at Auto Club hold 91,200 people.—SK) and different race groups packed all the infield pit area by the time I was there.
The Super Street tent and pit area was in the parking lot outside and before the official pit areas. So we just parked nearby and everyone started setting up their own tents and unloading things to use for the day. Competing cars were being unloaded from trailers and final preparations were being made. I had no tent, no tools and nothing prepared so I was just parked and sat around waiting for the drivers meeting. After the meeting it was time to get the cars inspected by NASA for safety and regulations, we all drove over to the registration area and lined up for inspection.
I was told how strict they are on inspection because they have been sued before for cars that were unsafe and allowed on the track so every car was inspected thoroughly. Brakes, pedals, lights, seat belts, battery secured, wires/hoses secured, tires, lugs, seat mount and the list goes on. As I was watching other cars in front of me get inspected I realized something crucial: one of my rear brake lights was out! I was shitting my pants because I remember testing the brake light with other bulbs and it didn’t work.
I assumed that it must have been some hardware or wiring problem that would take longer to fix. I started sweating just thinking about it; anxiety kicked in full throttle. Gil from Circuit Hero saw my stressed look and came over to offer help, which was very nice of him. He ran to his car and took the bulb off his DC2 for a quick test and it was actually just the bulb that was bad, so I was able to take a deep breath and calmed myself down. I drove back to our pit area and quickly grabbed a bulb off another DC2 that had passed inspection (thanks Rhett!) so I could pass my test first before I drove out to Autoparts to get my own replacement. It would be such a shame to miss out on the race after my 4000 km drive down all because of one bad light!
The race was separated into three sessions: warm-up, first official, and second official. Each session was only twenty minutes and I was very excited when we lined up for the warm-up session in the hot pit lane. Looking up at the stands and the oval section of the track, which looks like it’s at least ten cars wide, was amazing and that made me more nervous and excited at the same time. Before I came to this event, I knew I would be seeing some of the best built Honda tuner cars in the country, but seeing them all lined up in front of me at Auto Club Speedway and hearing their VTEC scream was something else!
The warm-up session was eventful enough for me since I am new to this track and still trying to learn the corners, and the big oval turn was little too much for my heart to handle. I knew I had the slowest car in the pack and I was reaching the end of my speedometer way before the end of big straight. I was probably going just over 200 kph (125 mph) into the oval turn and I’ve never done a max speed turn like that before so I had no idea how to take it.
I just let off the throttle a bit, held a steady line and tried my best to feel the grip on the tires. Then there’s that 2nd gear turn right after the curve and slowing down was also quite an obstacle. Raceline’s Elton was nice enough to offer me one of his friends to show me around the track a few laps and it helped me the most on the oval turn and I gained a bit of confidence.
Sadly, my car had some vibration issues so it was difficult to brake properly and there was no way to find an easy solution to this so I didn’t take any risks and called it a day after the first official timed session. I didn’t want to break the car since I still needed to drive it back to Toronto. This was probably my biggest regret of the trip, even though I’ve been trying to check and replace everything on the car before and during this trip it was just not enough to have it in prime condition for the race.
If I was able to go all out then I wouldn’t be upset at whatever lap time I got because I knew I did my best and had fun out there. All the competitors seemed to have done well and were lapping very decent times. Raceline’s Civic Si had transmission problems from the warm-up session, the Circuit Hero EF had an engine breakdown and Darren’s EK coupe had electrical issues. Like Sean, the Super Street editor said, this event eats up cars every year but the competitors never give up and try to come back stronger next year!
A lot of the competitors were running K swaps, gutted interior, bucket seats and welded cages so they were quick on the track. On a bigger track like this, the power and performance difference of the car really shows. There are lots of areas for acceleration between each turn and while everyone was accelerating out of the turns, I was kind of just putting along. The power difference didn’t feel that great when I’m tracking at my local circuits, because all the turns pretty much flow together and there are only two straight sections.
There were some delays in the race sessions of the day and I had to take off earlier because I still needed to drive a few hours over to Vegas (My favorite, heyo!—SD)for my first night stay before my three full days of driving back up northeast and home. Before I left, I had a short interview from Super Street for their official FF Battle 3 video and it’s probably my first time getting interviewed so I had a bit of trouble keeping my eyes forward and looking away. I hope I don’t look too stupid because of that on the final video!
1997 Acura Integra Type-R
Owner Henry Ng
Hometown Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
Occupation computer programmer
Engine 2.0L B20VTEC; ARC Super Induction Box; bored throttle body; RC 440cc injectors; Mugen 4-1 header, Twinloop exhaust; NGK spark wires; Optima Yellow Top battery; Blitz Racing radiator; Spoon carbon Kevlar spark plug cover, thermostat, reservoir covers, oil cap, radiator cap, magnetic drain plug; Motul 8100 oil; Hamp oil filter
Drivetrain Exedy stage 1 clutch; Fidanza 7lb flywheel; Motul transmission fluid
Footwork & Chassis Tein RA coilovers; Skunk2 front camber arms; T1R rear camber kit
Brakes Project Mu Circuit Max 500 front pads; Hawk HP+ rear pads; Powerslot rotors; Motul DOT 5.1 brake fluid
Wheels & Tires 16X8" +38 Volk TE37 wheels, Formula Lug Nuts; 205/45R16 General G-Max tires
Exterior VIS Racing Mugen style front bumper; Wings West Mugen style side skirts; CSC J’s Racing style rear diffuser; carbon gurney flap; JDM DC2 HID front end; Backyard Special license plate bracket; Mugen plate bolts; J’s Racing carbon canards, front tow hook
Interior JDM DC2 ITR Recaro seats; Bride FO seat rails; Personal Neo Grinta 330mm steering wheel w/ Mugen horn button; HKB steering hub; J’s Racing Titanium shift knob; Beatrush dead pedal; JDM DC5 ITR floor mats; carbon air bag tray; Skunk2 short shifter; Circuit Hero shifter extender; T1R dome light
Ice Pioneer MVH-P7300 head unit
Thanks You Above all else I want to thank my wife Ada for her love and support!
WWW generaltire.com; evasivemotorsports.com; igarage.ca; purbread.com (Henry’s blog/site); speedstar.com