Went to a local jap meet the other night with @1977ernie and some of the others. I’ve done a video to go with these pictures so stay tuned…. Pete’s E-AT 3rd gen and Gary’s 4g ef where getting a lot of attention all night, for obvious reasons. God I need to build a race rep.
Cadwell 3/4 – Steve Gray’s 1996 K20 Honda Integra Type R DC2
When I first started getting into Honda’s a big part of my obsession was with the Kanjo. For those of you who don’t know the Kanjo is another name for a road that encompasses the city of Osaka in Japan. Its actual name is Loop 1 and it’s used by two kinds of people. The first of the kind that use it to get to work - the second for those who use it as a race track. Yes that’s right. Kanjo racers use Loop 1 as their very own race track. It originated when one of the “One Make” racing series formed in Japan during the late 80’s. One make meaning only cars from the same manufacture could compete. Stricter series limited this further to “One Model” series where only certain models of cars (In this case Civics) where allowed to partake. The Kanjo racers took that and applied it to the Loop.
What I loved most about all of this was the fact that those guys where and still are building their very own budget race cars out of their garages at home. I loved the idea that a little Civic could be built into something so quick. Even though it was designed to be a small economical family run around. The Civic has proven to be a pretty much perfect platform for a little racer. In the Kanjo videos the Civic looks so nimble and light, but then, they need to be when they are dipping and diving in and out of traffic. The Kanjo has a real home grown feel to it and that is what I love most. They don’t waste their money or worry about things getting broken. They buy decent parts and when they break and need to repair something they throw aside aesthetics and just go for the most functional approach possible. Most of the time this means fabricating and building their own parts, or even recycling them from old Kanjo Civics.
Before I owned a Honda I used to see people over here in the UK with Civics that where modified in a way that was obviously Kanjo inspired. More commonly however, some people will modify their car somewhere in between this and a generic track car. I always thought that it looked awesome. Daily cars that can also be used as track cars and I said that if I ever owned a Honda I would take a similar approach with my car. However I have since come to realise that it takes a special kind of person to do this and follow it through.
When I bought my DC2 I was so happy just to own it. The last thing I wanted to do was start ripping parts out of it and racing it on track. I wanted to use it to get to work and back, giving people lifts etc etc and stripping out the interior would have made it pretty damn unbearable. It doesn’t have sound deadening as it is, never mind with all the interior ripped out. It was this realisation that lead me to the view that if you drive your car every day and you can still take it to the track and keep up with most stuff, then you are just a superior human being.
When I turned up at Cadwell on this particular morning I was very happy to see some DC2’s in attendance and eager to get a closer look at what one would look like when it had been modified to be used as a track car. It was then that I was introduced to Steve Gray, a heavily Welsh man who owns this insane K20 powered DC2. Although Steve hasn’t adopted the Kanjo approach with his car build he has gone down the road of making it into a track car whilst still using it as his daily. Yeah, you heard me, this is his daily…..with that roll cage.
Steve is someone who I would place in this special crop of people. He has built this amazing track DC2, with its massive roll cage and race car interior, yet he still uses it to get to work and back. He made the 5 hour journey back to Wales from Cadwell in it for god sakes. If that’s not superhuman I don’t know what is. These kind of people don’t think twice about weight saving and spending massive amounts of money on racing tyres and brakes. They just do it, because to them, nothing compares to the rush and exhilaration that comes with driving your car on track. A feeling that I imagine pushes the Kanjo racers to do what they do. Striving to make their cars perform at the best possible level.
Steve has built a beautiful car in his quest for faster lap times. This example is fitted with a K20 engine from an EP3, the aforementioned roll cage is pretty hard to miss, a flocked dash and of corse those beautiful Advan RG’s giving you a glimpse of his Willwood brake setup making this DC2 one of the best looking ones I’ve seen on track. I found myself circling this car all day every time just thinking to myself: “that’s his daily, that’s his daily, THAT’S HIS GODDAMN DAILY!” Little things about this car stand out to me making it more and more obvious that this isn’t just a very fast car on track but it has a function as well. The stone chipped carbon splitter highlights just how much this car gets used.
I wish I could be more like people such as Steve, Josh and Pete. The primary goal for their cars are to be low budget race cars. It just so happens that they can get them to work and back on Monday morning. They Throw away the if’s and the but’s and they just drive and fast. After that, whatever happens, happens. I’m hoping that one day I will pluck up the courage to take my car on track and not worry about it breaking. I have a feeling that that day, whenever it arrives, will be the start of a journey much similar to Steve’s. I just hope I can put the same amount of love into it that he has with his build.