You’re looking at what might be the fastest FWD car in Southern California. “Might” because it makes the power and wins the races . . . but no one knows exactly by how much, or what its full potential may be. And no, not because it “just got finished,” “isn’t tuned on the nitrous,” or any other excuse some might give for not putting their track-prepped cars where their mouths are. This thing’s been calling names and stomping them into the ground since 2007, running—and mostly winning—over 80 all-out, head-up races during that time. Trouble is, none of them have been on an actual race track.
Yes, this is a street car. Plated, tagged, smogged (don’t ask us how he managed that last one). It’s the 930+whp creation of a shadowy SoCal racing presence known simply as “Bucket,” and the two can most commonly be found in the middle of the night, finishing races on various South Central L.A. side streets in about nine seconds, at about 150 mph. It was built for street racing and street racing only, in the owner’s words “that’s where the money is at”.
Let’s get one thing straight: For our purposes, “street racing” doesn’t refer to mildly-modified street cars cruising the freeways and picking races with anything that looks fast. It’s not inexperienced drivers weaving in and out of traffic, trying to dodge law-abiding citizens and not run over pedestrians like you see in the movies. The street scene Bucket and his Civic are a part of has been a key ingredient to SoCal automotive enthusiasm since day one, organized by the same big names (racers, tuners, shop owners, etc.) you’ve likely heard associated with professional drag racing back when there existed NHRA-sanctioned events and quarter-mile strips to provide an outlet where it could be done legally. But those days are over, and today, enthusiasts like Bucket pursue their right to happiness on the streets, in a safe and controlled manner. Desolate spots are frequented. Cars are trailered in, make their burnouts and pull up to starting lines coated thick with rubber and VHT. And under no circumstances does anyone come uninvited— trust us on that one.
Today’s existing legitimate drag racing outlets pay only a few hundred bucks to competitors who put their investments on the line over and over again, battling up the ladder of any one event for a win. On a good night, Bucket tells us, winners will take home ten times that amount from a single race, and anyone betting on them will come up good. But that doesn’t mean the investment is any less. Bucket estimates it would cost him $25K to build a car exactly like his, with the vast majority of that amount sunk into the engine: a fully built, Q16-burning, 10K-revving, de-stroked B20/VTEC mill that churns out 865whp at 32psi of boost from a monster Garrett GT42R with another 68whp available at the touch of a NOS switch. Erick’s Racing, of Baldwin Park, CA, gets the nod for the build, but that’s not to say Bucket hasn’t put in some wrench time of his own on the engine; changing plugs every 2-4 races, bearings and head gaskets every 5-10, and constantly re-seating piston rings to minimize blow-by—the price to pay for a reputation of consistency.
Poke around in the engine bay and you’ll notice some peculiarities, namely the 1.5-gallon fuel cell occupying the battery’s original space (with its Aeromotive A1000 pump nestled behind the firewall), a complete lack of catch cans (thanks to that frequent piston ring adjustment) and some lead-filled sand bags behind the headlights to weight the front wheels for extra traction. Inside the cabin, there’s a lot less; pretty much nothing, except for a Corbeau seat, Sparco wheel and NRG hub, the NOS bottle, a gutted dash, a ton of green paint—all of which was installed/applied by Bucket with the help of friends and fam. You should also notice the lack of a cage. After all, there’s no tech inspection on the streets; Bucket knows the risks to saving weight by not adding a cage and he’s OK with that—he compares it to riding a motorcycle.
You might not think twice about the suspension of a drag car, but Bucket has thought it to death. His current setup consists of a custom Skunk2 Pro C suspension: 1,000 lbs/in in the rear to minimize squat during acceleration, keeping as much weight over the front wheels as possible, and 750 lbs/in in the front to keep the nose from diving too far and gouging his slicks during braking. And what about those slicks, anyway? Bucket’s known for trying new combinations of width and diameter, but when we shot the Civic it rolled monster 28 x 10.5-inch Mickey Thompson ET Drags over Work Equips. Perfect for hooking up . . . and perfect for breaking drivelines.
Nearly 1,100 crankshaft horses fighting their way to the ground via massive slicks is a recipe for driveline disaster, and in the case of Bucket’s Civic, with its Drive Shaft Shop 5.9 axles, intermediate shaft and hubs, the weak link is the transmission. He’s been going through one nearly every other race; expensive in and of itself, not to mention the cost of potential winnings he’s missed. His solution: the future addition of PPG input and output shafts, straight-cut dog-engagement gears (which are much stronger, and thicker from not having to make room for synchros), and a full Mark Williams driveline and brake setup. Retail price: $15K, or in Bucket’s world, a couple of good nights at the drags.
1992 Honda Civic CX
Owner Mr. Bucket
Hometown Compton, CA
Occupation Servin’ fools
Engine 84.5mm-bored B20B block; B18C1 crankshaft, cylinder head; B16B cams; Arias 9.5:1 compression pistons; Crower Turbo Tuff connecting rods; Alaniz Square Port head porting; Skunk2 valve springs, retainers, valves; ACL Race bearings; Cometic head gasket; Garrett GT42R turbo; Peakboost turbo manifold; TiAL wastegate, blow-off valve; Edelbrock Victor X intake manifold; Blox 70mm throttle-body; custom 3" downpipe and “shorty” exhaust, front-mounted intercooler and piping; MSD Digital 6 Plus ignition, Blaster Coil, distributor cap; 1,600cc/min RC Engineering fuel injectors; Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump, adjustable fuel pressure regulator; Summit Racing 1.5-gallon fuel cell; NOS Single Fogger 100-shot wet system; Aeroquip -10 and -8 lines, fittings; custom aluminum radiator, silicone hoses; Erick’s Racing engine assembly and tuning
Drivetrain S80 Integra Type R transmission; Quaife limited-slip differential (LSD); Synchrotech carbon-fiber synchros; Tilton twin-disc clutch kit; Drive Shaft Shop 5.9 axles, intermediate shaft, hubs
Engine Management Hondata S300 ECU, 4-bar MAP sensor
Footwork & Chassis Skunk2 Pro C coilovers (1,000lbs/in front; 750lbs/in rear); Energy Suspension master urethane bushing kit; Hasport motor mounts; front sand bags
Wheels & Tires Work Equip wheels (15x9" front, 15x8" rear); 28x10.5" Mickey Thompson ET Drag slicks (front); whatever’s cheap (rear)
Exterior Golden Eagle rear diffuser plate; VIS carbon-fiber hood, hatch wing; custom Lexan rear windows, green paint inside and out
Interior Corbeau racing bucket; Sparco steering wheel, harness; NRG quick-release hub
www ericksracing.com; skunk2.com; workwheelsusa.com; search “Mr. Bucket” Civic on YouTube