I’ve made mention of my old racecar on oppo, but I realized I’ve never really introduced you all to it. It is car behind my user name. It was also my first car, and the object of much automotive obsession and fiscally unwise spending since I was a kid.
This particular Integra was purchased new buy my aunt back in 1988, and has stayed in the family ever since. Having spent its entire life in the desert southwest, it is actually an 80's Japanese car that has absolutely no rust anywhere. I actually remember riding in this car when I was five years old (she had taken my sister and I out to eat, and I had left my jacket at the restaurant. I remember sitting in the two-tone black and gray seats and watching how the movement of the tach corresponded with what her feet were doing with the pedals and gearshifts as she raced back to retrieve my windbreaker in 1990). Being bright red, two doors and having that 80's Honda two-tone black and grey interior, it was one of the cooler cars in the family.
Come 1996, my aunt was going to trade it in with 76k on it (for a new Pathfinder), and my Dad offered to buy it from her. At the time he was driving and autocrossing his 91 Mercury Capri, and the Integra presented the option of a better car in every way possible. When she offered to sell it to him for the same $2k that she had been offered in trade-in for it, the deal was no brainer. He actually offered to pay her what the car was really worth at the time, but she wouldn’t take it. So in 96, it became my Dad’s daily driver and autocrosser. It also became the car I washed, waxed and detailed countless times before I was old enough to drive it.
Come May 1999 when I was 14 and had a learner’s permit, my dad took me to the school parking lot and taught me drive stick in it (I had been learning to drive an auto in our 96 Explorer, V8/AWD since I was 12). He also made the deal that so long as my grades stayed good and I had a job to fund fuel and upkeep, I would have a car to available to drive and autocross once I got my full license. Come 2000, I had a key and part-time use of the Integra. In the summer before my start of my Junior year in 2001, the car became mine on a full-time basis. The title was given to me as a graduation gift in May of 2003. The high school tomfoolery that we all did happened for me in this car.
From 96-02, the car was autocrossed by us. It was pretty successful locally with both of us wining a couple of region championships with it in ES/HS. I also won a national tour event with it in HS. SCCA sent me a nice plaque for that.
I had a couple of opportunities to drive laps on a couple of tracks and got hooked. In 2002 I decided that I had to play racecar for real, even it meant that I was going to do so on a shoestring budget. I nearly emptied my high school savings account to have a cage put in the car and begin making it an ITA car. The realities of actually driving a gutted car with a roll cage set in pretty quickly, and I picked up another beater 88 Integra (4 door, auto without a working 2nd gear) to drive around on the street. After I while, I picked up my 93 MX-6 V6 that would be my primary transportation for many years. I did a whole lot of instructing for SCCA PDXs at the local track in exchange for free track time with the racecar run group to develop the car. Back w
hen I was willing to die in some strangers street car instructing, it was a lot of fun for a 17 year old kid to instruct 50 year old guys with Boxters and Z06s. By 2004 it had a logbook and I had a license to go racing for real. With what I know now, I would never choose to build or run a FWD racecar again (and the integra isn’t an ideal car for the class), but it was what I had to turn into a racecar at the time.
From 2004-2007, I ran a partial schedule in the Rocky Mountain Division with the car. For those that have never done it, racing for real is the most fun that I’ve ever had (with or without clothes on). I even did an 1/3 mile oval exhibition race in front of the Saturday night roundy-round crowd in it that was a riot. By running my 15" race rubber up front and the skinny 14" rollers (pictured above) on the rear, I spent most of the time sideways. Over a decade latter, I can still get an adrenaline rush just thinking about some of the battles in certain races. To go with closet of jackets that were autocross trophies, I got a wall full of race trophies from road racing with the car. It and I turned out to competitive with anyone who was running ITA in the region, but the car would not be against a more ideal, fully built, ITA car driven by a good shoe. It did suffer one big crash when it went into the tires at Second Creek. It was repaired via porta-power and a hammer and block for the fender. I always said that I would repair it for real after the next time I crashed, but that never happened, so I continued to run a quick but ugly racecar.
After 2007, I never ran another SCCA race with it, but I did play in a variety of winter local race series with the Spec Miata guys. It turned out the only time I actually touched another car out on track with it was when playing informally with the Spec Miata guys. Some quick new guy was looking to make a late move under braking on me that he wasn’t quite good or experienced enough yet to make, so I closed the door on him. He was little slow on the uptake, so we touched and he got a red scuff across his white fender.
Once I went back to school in 2009, the car became inactive. It primarily sat under a cover outside, being started and warmed up every couple of months. As sad as I was to not use it, the reality of being an adult with a career and mortgage and things like that meant that spending $1500+ a weekend to play with the racecar just wasn’t going to happen.
I finally brought it down South to my house last year, and decided it was time to do something with it. I realized that someone needed to be doing something with the car, even if it wasn’t me. It hadn’t actually even ran in about a year, so about a month ago I got the non-running car into the garage and got to work. My initial plan was just to get the car running and then sell it cheap. I thought I was ready to do that. I offered the car to my best friend (who somehow has even stronger feelings about the car than I do) at I price I didn’t think he could refuse, but he wasn’t able to come up with the even modest amount of cash. He probably isn’t ready to own a real racecar yet, but I know he would’ve treated it right.
Getting the car running turned into getting the car track-day ready, which is turning into getting the car race ready. I’ve already done a lot more than I planned to, and now I’m beginning to doubt my will to sell it. Getting the car going again is causing the racing bug to bite me hard again. Now I’m plotting ways I could get back into the game, and if anything short of full on SCCA regional racing will scratch the itch. Given how long this post has already run, I’ll save more details and stories about the car for future posts. But until then, meet my Integra. With only 132K on the clock, I imagine it is one of the lower mileage g1tegs still out there. Of course, the last few thousand miles have been a little harder than normal use.