Mar 052012
 

This project car update was published on November 3, 2010 on my original WordPress site.

A long time has passed since I wrote an update on my ongoing CRX project, and for that I apologize. For the most part, that has been because I don’t have much to report, although graduate thesis concerns have played a major part as well.

This article, then, will be something of a comprehensive wrap-up of the 2010 portion of the CRX project, and a look forward to what I am considering for 2011.

When last I wrote, the addition of a set of Hoosier R6 tires had both made the car a class winner and enlarged my head quite a bit. My ego received further enhancement when, at the following even in July, I trounced my rival in the blue EP Civic Si, beating him by nearly 2 seconds in my fastest lap. I began to believe that, in its current state, the CRX and I were pretty much an unbeatable combination in South Jersey.

The August race, however, brought me back down to earth. The organizers had completely changed the track layout and I was never able to get into a groove where I felt I could lay down a really fast time. The car suddenly felt loose around some of the very tight turns as well. At times it seemed as though the Hoosiers might have been too much and my control might have benefited from a little less grip. All things considered I ended up all right, but I lost first place by seven hundredths (.07) of a second to — you guessed it — my friend in the Si.

Disappointed, but determined to bounce back, I started to look for new areas in which I could improve the car.  I needed to find out why it still felt so loose at times. First I considered purchasing a set of shock absorbers. After a simple inspection of the ones currently on the car, however, it was clear that they were still in good shape. Although the car would undoubtedly respond to an upgrade in this area, that would be quite expensive. Until something goes wrong with what I’ve got, I can’t justify the parts and labor costs to upgrade those.

Then a project car article in Grassroots Motorsports magazine reminded me that SCCA rules allow for pretty much any modification to the front sway bar, including bushings and end links of any material.  A quick visual inspection of the links and bushings on the CRX revealed that the factory rubber had long ago given up the ghost. Even a fresh set of Honda parts would have tightened things up, but the open rules allowed for something even better: polyurethane.

For those of you unfamiliar, polyurethane is a rubber-like material that provides many of the same benefits as rubber, but is much stiffer when used as a bushing replacement, usually resulting in better responsiveness and tighter cornering. On the down side, it is more expensive than rubber, and transmits more vibration and noise through the chassis of the car.

A simple set of bushings and end links, though, would only set me back about $30. And, since the 20-year-old CRX already rattles like an empty can of spray paint, I wasn’t really concerned about noise. I ordered a set from Options Auto Salon (optauto.com) and installed them post haste.

The change was immediately noticeable. The steering tightened up dramatically and the car changed direction with a new authority. Turn-in was crisp and immediate and I even got a little more feedback through the steering wheel. In many ways it was like driving a new car. I couldn’t wait to see what it could do on a course.

Unfortunately, I never really got the chance to find out. Confusion over some poor weather meant I missed the September event and a family member’s wedding kept the October race off my schedule as well. As a result I did not even qualify for an award at the end of the season. I did run one  more event, this time in the North Jersey region. But fresh pavement on the parking lot at the Meadowlands presented me with a surface I wasn’t familiar with. As a result I spent much of the afternoon sliding wantonly around the cones instead of turning precisely or gracefully.

It was, to say the least, a somewhat inauspicious way to end what I had hoped would be a very successful auto-x season.

I do have a great deal to be encouraged about, though. In five South Jersey races, I won my class twice and never failed to finish below second. And, if my initial impressions of the sway bar upgrades hold true, I can expect the same, if not better, come 2011.

In the mean time, though, I have several small, low-budget projects in mind to make the car a little more interesting on the street. Since the DX model I bought did not come with a rear sway bar, I am hoping to add a factory piece off an Si model (although I will have to disconnect it every time I race to keep the car in H-Stock). In addition, I would like to boost the light output of the headlamps for clearer night driving. I am considering several options, but an HID kit looks like a likely addition. Finally, as the 2011 season gets a little closer, I will reevaluate my brakes and decide whether the project Mu pads are still my best option.

So now, all my loyal readers, you can look forward to seeing how all that works out in a few months. For the moment, though, thanks for reading. Look for more Project CRX in 2011.

Parts added in this article:
Energy Suspension anti-sway bar links and bushings: Energy Suspension

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