Race class participation numbers have a natural ebb and flow as classes come and go from popularity. Classes can gain numbers as drivers jump from other classes, but some classes swell with fresh blood. In NASA Northeast, six drivers made the jump from HPDE to racing, jump-starting an old class.
Honda Challenge is a popular group in the Northeast, with cars running H1 and H2. Honda Challenge 4 never had a real presence, despite strong fields out West. Neighboring Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions had an H4 presence, but they fizzled out around 2010. That drought came to an end in 2017 when a crew of NASA Northeast volunteers started planning their move from HPDE to racing.
H4 Racer Damien Price explained it, “Well, we all wanted to run H2, but we’re broke.”
Guided by the region’s Honda Challenge group leader, Spencer Anderson, they began looking into H4 because “You can cage a stock Integra, add safety equipment and go racing.” H4 is indeed the lowest power class of Honda Challenge, but the racing can be just as tight as the other classes, and the running costs are a fraction of H2 and H1. Over the next two years the group followed advice from the seasoned Honda Challenge veterans like Spencer and Zephyr Belski as they honed their driving and prepped their cars.
Zephyr explained how tight the Honda Challenge paddock is in the Northeast. “’Here’s the part you need. We can have it in and you can make it to qualifying’ has been said many a time.” The group packs communal spares, and everyone works together to help each other out.
“If you have something go really bad and you feel defeated and want to go home, just relax and gather your head together, there are three or more people who will start repairing it for you,” Zephyr added.
Their effort assures that everyone will have a running car for the race and it keeps competition fierce. On more than one occasion, there has been a dozen or so Honda Challenge drivers all hanging out, lending a hand with paddock motor swaps late into the night.
In 2018, H4 was born in the Northeast with four drivers, Dillon Brennan, Damien Price, Ken Martinez, and Kallie Kanakos. In 2019, two more joined the ranks, Alex Herman and Brian Lenahan. Will this momentum continue with more drivers for 2020? This year at least three of the H4 Drivers, Dillon Brennan, Ken Martinez, and Kallie Kanakos will attempt to show the West Coast guys what H4 is all about.
The racing action in Honda Challenge 4 in NASA Northeast is getting more intense as this video from Lime Rock shows.