This project car update was published on July 9, 2010 on my original WordPress site.
When last we talked about the CRX, I had made some minor changes and was pleased with its all-around performance, but frustrated by my inability to coax it to its first auto-x class win. The limiting factor, I had decided, was the all-season tires I was using.
Some would argue that, in most cases, the only part that needs to be fixed to make a car go faster is the one located between the seat and the steering wheel. And while that is true (and I could undoubtedly pick up time by improving myself) I could see, for lap after lap, just how close I was to beating my competition.
I have the rest of my life to hone my driving skills; I wanted to win now.
And besides, as I also mentioned in the last segment, the demands of tearing through a smoldering parking lot at breakneck speeds were proving to be too much for the all-season BFGoodriches anyway. I was losing chunks of rubber from the treads, and I could see a couple spots where sidewall bubbles may have started to develop.
So, with tax refund in hand (or, at least in bank), I started to search for high performance tires to fit my factory 13-inch wheels. As it turned out, the list was pretty small.
Actually, the list was one.
Hoosier’s R6, in 185/60ZR13 sizing, was the only tire available to me that offered the performance I was looking for. Indeed, as a track and competition tire, it was even a bit more extreme than I was hoping to go, but its reputation is impressive and it would be a huge upgrade from the BFGs on course.
There were two major down sides to consider, however. Although the R6 is DOT approved, it is not suitable for street use, so I would not be able to drive to the event with them mounted on the car. In stead I would have to add four wheels and tires, a jack, and my wheel removal tools to all the equipment I would normally bring, substantially increasing my baggage. Then, I would have to spend additional time before and after each event swapping the wheels.
Then there was the price. After heat cycling and shipping from Tire Rack, and installation at a local tire shop, the cost would border on eye-popping for such a small-diameter tire.
But these were never really serious concerns because I had already decided in my head that I wasn’t going to lose again as a result of sub-par equipment. So I purchased the tires, had them installed and patiently awaited the next race.
And boy did they make a difference.
The increase in useable grip was downright staggering, and it was all available right up to the limit. When the tires did let go, they were easy to get back under control. The car became more controllable in literally every way. I found, very quickly, that I could carry much more speed through each turn than I had hoped.
My lap times reflected that change, too. It took a few laps to adjust to the car’s new dynamics, but by the end of the (very hot) day I was more than two seconds clear of the rest of the class and my times were consistently dropping.
I allowed one of the instructors to make a lap in the car, and he managed nearly 1.5 seconds better than me, as well. It provided me with an excellent benchmark for what the car could really do. I would have liked to see what he could do with another lap, as I believe the car had the potential to go even quicker. With temperatures approaching 100 degrees, however, keeping the wear down was paramount.
Thus, I took my first victory in H-stock. My main competition (the blue EP Civic Si from the previous two events) was not in attendance, though. I don’t consider my victory mitigated by this, but I do look forward to competing with him again on a more level plane.
And I’ll get my chance on the 25th of this month. No changes to the car are in the works for that, though, so all I can do is cross my fingers and watch the calendar.