9.14 @ 157 mph
The evolutionary curve in SC drag race is a steep hill to climb. When HP Racing, a performance parts manufacturer, decided to step up its support of SC drag racing and put together its own racing program, it was wise enough to look past the horizon. The HP crew considered where the cars were running at the time and interpolated where they would be when its Hot Rod Civic was ready for action.
This represented a big jump for HP Racing. Going from an associate sponsor for Kenny Tran to its own full-fledged race team meant building a car from the ground up. When the build-up began in 2000, the majority of uni-body Hondas were running low 10s and the quickest two or three uni-body Hondas were running 9.7 to 9.9 seconds. HP Racing aimed for the leading edge of the curve and targeted 9.75 to 9.80 for its creation, a lofty goal at the time.
Perhaps the best move HP Racing made in the project was tapping the shoulder of Lance Ho Lung of Toyomoto. One may wonder why a Toyota tuner would be involved in a Honda project, but any savvy enthusiast in the Miami area knows Lance's reputation for power and reliability. His meticulous nature has been on display many times in Turbo and his attention to detail is perfectly suited for a Honda race effort where every tolerance is critical. Lance would build the engine, wire up a Haltech unit and tune the combination. He would also be the car's driver.
HP Racing's weapon of choice is a Honda H22A Prelude powerplant. The block was precision machined and fitted with Darton sleeves. The engine installation kit Lance originally used positioned the engine too far forward. The axles were angled back in order to line up with the tranny; not good when you plan to drop 700 hp on the driveline. Lance lined up the driveline and then fabricated his own engine mount set-up. The drawback? The stock H22 intake manifold hit the firewall. He busted out the welder and made his own sheetmetal manifold with a 4-inch diameter plenum, short runners and a flange for a 75mm BBK throttle body.
The H22A's reciprocating assembly consists of a balanced stock crankshaft, Crower rods and JE pistons. Oiling is handled by a Moroso dry sump set-up driven by custom high-pressure pulleys to keep the high-revving Honda fully lubed. The head features a Ferrea full valvetrain kit with stainless-steel valves, high-rpm springs and heavy-duty retainers. A really neat little trick can be seen in the cam selection department where Lance dropped in Prelude Type-S bumpsticks. The cams from the Japan-only Type-S offer more lift and duration in VTEC mode, which means the 2.2-liter can ingest more air more efficiently where it needs it most-high in the rev range.
The fuel system consists of a Weldon 2035, which Lance qualifies as "the biggest they make," a Weldon adjustable fuel pressure regulator and four 160 lb/hr injectors from Precision Turbo. A Haltech E6K engine management system oversees fuel and ignition events, the latter being fortified by a MSD 7AL-2 and Blaster 2 coil.
The Civic's turbo system initially ran a T66 hybrid from Precision Turbo, an air-to-liquid Spearco intercooler, a Rev Hard mild steel exhaust manifold, an HKS GT wastegate and Type R blow-off valve, and a custom 3-inch downpipe. A GReddy PRofec B boost controller regulates the system to 32 psi. In this trim, the H22A laid an impressive 722 hp to the wheels on Lujan Motorsports' Dynojet.
With an abundance of power, it was time to test. The Civic posted three consecutive 9.8-second passes right out of the box during shakedown testing in February 2002. But at the World Import Challenge (WIC) event in March, the Honda didn't like the feel of the track. The Civic had the speed (151.8 mph) to be in the mid-9s, so its best effort of 10.02 at the WIC signaled work needed to be done on the suspension.
Lance and the HP crew made a couple tweaks and two weeks later, took the car to the NHRA 2002 season opener in their home state of Florida. The car responded well at Gainesville, posting a 9.68 in the qualifying rounds and a 9.46 at 152.5 mph before being eliminated. The 9.46 came impressively on the ninth pass of the car's life; talk about learning quickly.
The euphoria of running a 9.46 inspired all involved. Lance bumped up the power on the motor by moving to a Precision Turbo T74 and fabricating a more efficient exhaust manifold.
To get more of the power to the ground, Lance and HP called on fellow racers Christian Rado and Shaun Carlson and were surprised by how truly supportive they both were. Rado was helpful, introducing them to Penske shocks and keying them into Tilton carbon/carbon clutch technology. Carlson and his company Nuformz fabricated a complete rear suspension featuring Strange spindles and a staging brake set-up. The suspension is fully adjustable for camber and toe-in and Lance reports the toe angle does not change under compression or rebound. Further, the Nuformz suspension weighs 65 lbs less than the OE suspension. The front suspension was augmented with custom lower control arms and tubular upper arms, which secure a Mark Williams hub assembly. The Mark Williams set-up features race-ready axles, lightweight hubs, rotors and calipers.
The car was taken to Maple Grove for the NDRA opener. That event rained out so the Civic's next chance at the spotlight was in Houston for the NHRA Toyo Tires Sport Compact Nationals June 1-2. The spotlight seemed like a distant beacon when the turbo let go on the Civic's first qualifying pass, netting a 12.03 at 103 mph.
Undaunted, Lance called Florida and had a technician "borrow" a T70 from a customer's SC300 and fly to Houston. The turbo was bolted on just in time for round three of qualifying on Sunday. The Honda responded with a 9.392 at 150.21 mph to grab the number four spot on the grid.
After a 15.65 Bye pass in round one, Lance and HP Civic lined up with Lisa Kubo in the second round. The HP Civic was again up to the challenge in one of the most hotly contested races in the class. Lance blasted a personal best of 9.153 at 157.01 mph while Lisa turned a 9.385 at 157.47 mph.
In the semis, the HP Civic ran a 9.54 at only 121.75 mph. The ring gear in the transmission let go going into forth gear, but it wouldn't have mattered. Lance told us the datalogging showed he was on a 9.02 pace and his opponent Bruce Mortensen and the Venom Civic were heading into the record books with an 8.83, which backed an 8.81 in qualifying. The HP Racing Honda had leap-frogged from 9.46 to 9.15 in one event, so to say the suspension modifications paid off is an understatement. The .41 second gain in performance was realized, despite running a smaller turbo. Would a T74 put the Civic in the 8s?
The H22A was fitted with a fresh Precision Turbo T74, a Nitrous Express system was installed and a Pro Drive ring-and-pinion gear was bolted in the tranny. The next appearance would be the June 15 NHRA event at Maple Grove. The car responded favorably but was not swift enough to breach the 8-second barrier. The Civic qualified with a 9.29 at 157.57 and busted a 9.153 and a 9.140 to advance to the semifinals. In the semi, the Honda recorded a 9.25 but the engine let go when the nitrous was sprayed in third gear.
A fresh short block was added and the car was on the warpath at the NDRA event in Dinwiddie, Va. Unfortunately a set of new aftermerket gears failed in qualifying and a used tranny was put into action. While the HP Civic took second, its best e.t. was a 9.38.
There is a trickle down effect; HP has developed a new line-up of hard engine parts based on data gleaned from the drag Civic experience. These parts should help hard charging street and strip Hondas live long and prosper.
|Performance Progression |
|February '02 ||9.8; 9.8; 9.8 ||Shakedown |
|March 9th ||10.02 @ 151.6 ||WIC Houston |
|April 13-14 ||9.68; 9.46 @ 152.5; 10.12 ||NHRA Gainesville |
|June 1-2 ||12.31; 15.65 (bye); 9.15 @ 157; 9.54 ||NHRA Houston |
|June 15-16 ||9.29; 9.15; 9.14; 9.25 ||NHRA Maple Grove |
|August 17 ||9.38, 9.92, 9.89 ||NDRA Virginia |
|September 7-8 ||9.18, 8.90, 9.12, 9.00 @ 163, 8.96 ||NDRA Florida |