CIVIC DOWN FOR THE COUNT
End of the season. . . one last race. . . GTA Super Lap Battle at Buttonwillow Raceway California. We had been working on our limited class Honda Civic, months ago, hoping to have the cooling issues under control in time. Our goal was to run a lap in under 2 minutes, and, of course, take home a trophy.
At the previous two Time Attacks we had been battling with the Civic’s cooling system. We were seeing oil temperatures over 300°, causing the coolant temperature to rise, finally cutting the car at 235°. We changed the radiator, at the last event, from a half core to a Skunk2 Alpha full core Integra radiator, and added some other cooling mods. We moved the oil cooler out of the bumper at the track, but were still unable to get the car out for more than three hot laps.
It was clear to us that the real issue we were battling was not really coolant temperature, but oil temperature. (300° oil temperature is no bueno!) After accessing the turbo’s water cooling path, we had a plan! Remove the current FAL single puller fan and put in two Mishimoto 12” pusher fans. (Great pullers, but horrible pushers.) This would give us more room for our intake as well. Put the oil cooler back in behind the bumper along with a small SPAL fan (Amazing fans!) on the oil cooler, with a thermoswitch. Install a Thermo-Tec Titanium turbo blanket and we would be on our way.
Once tested, these new modifications seem to work perfectly. There was no overheating in site. Now our concern at the track would be the engine itself, because of the extreme heat we had put it through, during the two previous track events.
Practice Thursday morning presented its own issues. The first practice session out, driver Bryan Friday spun out twice due to low tire pressures and cold track temps. Returning back to the trailer the air compressor was not up and running so that scrapped that session.
The second session of the day, the car was feeling good, but we had to end the session short because the car was cutting due to sloshing of the gas in the gas tank, in the higher G turns. Driver Bryan Friday said that he was just getting use to the track in the FWD platform. His last race at Buttonwillow was over 4 years ago in the Project Import S2000. “Uneasy would be the term that would describe it best, running the Civic at Buttonwillow with no rear wing”, he said.
For the third session, with a topped off tank of gas and good spirits, driver Bryan Friday headed to the hot pits. Once let out onto the track, he said the car felt good. It had not gotten hot the whole day, which was an answer to prayers. The first lap in, he clocked a 2:06 with tons of room for improvement. But on the second lap, the worst thing happened. Going through Bus Stop into Riverside, the engine gave out in a puff of smoke ending the event very short. After being towed back in and inspected, it seems the main bearings just gave out from their constant over-heating during previous events. The crank was almost unable to be turned with a three foot breaker bar. When the oil was drained, large chunks of bearing fell out of the pan.
Next season we plan to be back with more improvements. A new B16 engine is already in the shop. We are already working on a chassis mount rear wing for the Civic, new braking components, and more! We pray that we will take home a few more trophies and get the word out!