Progression is the key element behind most successful undertakings. We’ve all heard the story before. It starts with “From humble beginnings” and chronicles the trials and tribulations that lead to a crowning achievement.
Joe Simpson’s humble beginning was typical in the import scene: a ’93 Civic. “The Civic coupe I had before this car was my learning platform,” Simpson says. “It was my first Honda. I learned so much from it that over the years I was capable of doing things a lot cleaner and tighter. As I progressed, the car went from a 13-second daily driver to running 12s, 11s, 10s, and finally 9.5 at 160 mph. I had so many different setups in the car over the years it was just time to tear it apart and completely start over, or start with a new car all together. I decided I wanted to build an Integra, so I started looking for a shell.”
About four or five months later the exoskeleton of what would become Simpson’s end game, his ultimate expression of Honda power, was towed home. Like many before him, Simpson has parlayed his passion for performance into a business: Tempest Racing out of Mechanicsville, Md.—yes it’s a real place—which is about 30 minutes south of Washington, D.C.
As a shop car owner, finding the time to work on the beast was a challenge, but it only took a single winter to transform the carcass into a player. Deconstruction was followed up by rollcage installation and paint prep, all executed by Simpson. His friend, Matt Pratt, did the honors of laying a deep burgundy paint.
Simpson didn’t sit and watch the paint dry, however, he moved directly to the next step: the engine installation. A dummy engine was installed so Simpson could lay out the turbo system. The core of the system is a custom Full-Race twin-scroll exhaust manifold and a Bullseye Power S372 turbo. Bullseye Power offers this turbo with three different A/Rs on both the hot and cold side and a dizzying number of wheel trims. Twin 44mm TiAL Sport wastegates propagate spool up while dumping into a 4-inch Full-Race downpipe. Simpson also fabbed the piping, which houses a 50mm TiAl blow-off valve and leads to a custom Tempest Racing FMIC that uses a Garrett core. The FMIC boost snakes its way into a wicked Full-Race intake modified to accommodate eight injectors and a 70mm Wilson throttle body.
The fuel system features 1,050cc Fuel Injector Clinic injectors with four primaries mounted on a Skunk2 composite rail and four secondaries secured on a Tempest Racing/BDL rail. An Aeromotive Pro Series pump via -10 lines feeds the system.
With a target boost north of 50 psi, stout was the word of the day. Simpson contacted Stewart Engines on famed Gasoline Alley in Indianapolis, Ind., and acquired a fully built, zipped-up race engine. The ’Teg is running a B18 bored to displace 2.0 liters. State-of-the-art machining and head porting was followed up by a precise assembly using quality pieces. Custom 10:1 Wiseco pistons and Manley turbo-spec rods swing on a balanced and micropolished OE crank. “Having several cars on our dynojet to compare,” Simpson says, “we found out that my car will out spool, make more peak power, and carry the power to a higher rpm than any other similar combination we’ve ever had on our dyno. Best of all we were able to get two full seasons out of the engine before sending it back to be refreshed. With the rev limiter set at 10,800 rpm, seeing peak boost pressures of 54 psi, taking the motor apart, and having it look virtually brand new is amazing!” Simpson is also quick to point to the Ferrea-infested valvetrain as a key to the stratospheric engine speeds.
With big boost, 8,400 cc/min of fuel, and a 10,800rpm rev limit, tuning had profound importance in the power and reliability of the combination. Simpson’s weapon of choice was the MoTeC M800. “It’s just amazing. It does everything and anything you would want an ECU to do,” Simpson says enthusiastically. “There is so much flexibility in it and so many features. I will be learning new things with this ECU for years to come.”
Simpson also jumps to the podium in support of the NLR AMS-1000 boost controller. “I like this boost controller so much. Once you hook it up, if the boost is not 100 percent perfect you know there is a problem with the car. Aside from being the most accurate controller I’ve ever used and being the best boost controller when it comes to having complete control of the car going down the track, it’s also a diagnostic tool. At our last track outing we were monitoring the AMS-1000 map sensor through the MoTeC software and were able to discover a bad wastegate diaphragm without even removing the wastegates.”
The proud, race-ready Integra went 9.7 on its first test pass—quite a debut. “We took it to the first event and on a 9.9 at 158 pass, the back end of the car kicked out sending the Integra into the wall,” Simpson says. “I thought the car was totaled for sure but the rollcage saved the chassis. Many of our friends, fans, other shops, and the vendors we deal with from the popular forum www.honda-tech.com stepped up and helped us out. I was so bummed and frustrated with the whole situation I was going to part the car out and be done with it. They kept my spirits up and pushed me to get it back together. We are still dialing in the car’s Omni-Power drag coilovers, Full-Race traction bars, and Liberty transmission, trying to get it up to speed. There is still more power in it, we are just taking baby steps to get the car down the track.”
“I feel we’re at the point with the car where we have the parts to go fast, it’s just a matter of getting everything set up properly. We plan to run the car on 26-inch tires instead of the usual 24.5s. Big picture–wise we plan to data log as many parameters as possible, pre-turbo inlet temps, exhaust backpressure, wastegate pressure, crankcase pressure, etc. At this point in the game, information is everything,” Simpson says.
When operating on the razor’s edge, data is divine; so is understanding what it’s telling you. Simpson and Tempest Racing seem to be making all the right moves and it’s clear that this Integra is an end game that’s only just begun.
84.5mm B18 (LS), Custom Wiseco pistons, Manley rods, ACL bearings, ERL sleeves, ERL main girdle, Full ARP hardware, Cometic Head gasket,Moroso oil pan, GSR cylinder head with Ferrea valves, valvesprings, retainers, roller rockers, comp non-VTEC cams, Stewart Engines race port, and T1 cam trigger kit, Full-Race exhaust manifold, Bullseye Power S372 turbocharger, Full-Race downpipe, Twin TiAL wastegate, TiAL blow-off valve, Tempest Racing intercooler and charge pipe kit using Garrett core, Wilson throttle body, Full-Race intake manifold, 8x Fuel Injector Clinic 1,050cc injectors, Tempest Racing/BDL fuel rails, Aeromotive pro-series fuel pump and regulator, T1 catch can, Fluidyne radiator Fluidampr crank pulley
Omni-Power drag coilovers, Full-Race traction bars
Stock Acura Integra, Stroud parachute
JDM front end, Weld wheels, Micky Thompson slicks, Carbon-fiber hood and trunk, Custom burgundy paint
Tempest Racing 10-point rollcage, Stroud harness, Stroud window net, MOMO steering wheel, PCS dash logger, MoTeC M800 ECU, M&W Pro-14 ignition box, 2x Corbeau seats NGK wideband, NLR AMS-1000 boost controller, T1 Long Shifter kit with strain gauge