The APEXi Drag Integra was constructed as an answer to Stephan Papadakis' tube-frame Civic. Its mission? To become the world's quickest front-drive racer. The Answer is also the nickname of the NBA's Allen Iverson, who is shredding the twine in what could and should be an MVP season for the flamboyant Philadelphia 76er guard. Iverson earned his nickname by answering the bell in clutch situations time and time again. The APEXi Integra has yet to fulfill its mission, but has gotten off to a colorful start.

The car and the player have much in common. Quickness is key for both. Durability is usually in question and expectations are high. Both have overcome adversity to get where they are. The Integra was nearly turned to scrap when it was wrecked at a shakedown testing session at Japan's Sendai drag strip. The session bore fruit as the car screamed to a 9.006 at 156.43 mph.

The APEXi Japan crew wanted to get more miles per hour out of the car by removing the rear wing. This would reduce drag at the top end and reduce downforce. A combination of the Sendai Dip at the end of the track and the lack of downforce caused the rearend to break loose as pilot Eiji Tarzan Yamada lifted after the finish line. The front end of the car was damaged, but Yamada was fine. The car was back together in two and a half weeks and the repair afforded the APEXi crew a chance to change some things. Weight was a big concern, so some tubes were deleted and the design simplified.

Innovation In Action
As this story goes to press, the Integra is two weeks away from its debut in what is currently planned to be a four-race stint on U.S. soil. There are high expectations for the car's performance, but one look at it and it's clear these expectations are not unrealistic. There is a great deal of innovative ideas and leading-edge technology beneath the Integra's Fiberglas body panels. The tube-frame chassis was built in-house at APEXi Japan, and for a company that has never undertaken such a project, it was pulled off with a high degree of quality. Using 4130 material, the chassis was constructed to NHRA specs as far as size and wall thickness were concerned. APEXi has built tube-frame racers before, but these were road race designs. As a result, the Integra chassis was a bit over-engineered, which accounts for its 2260-lb curb weight with driver. The car features an innovative center seating arrangement, a la NHRA Funny Cars. The chassis extends into the engine bay where more innovation is put to the test.