Here is the car back from Olson’s Auto Body in Sanger, Calif., with a fresh paint job. You can see in this photo our Home Depot splitter.

We began our budget Honda Challenge build in the March 2016 issue of “Speed News” magazine with the goal of completing the car and racing in the Western States Championships in October. Well, October is here and the car is done, and it will run at the Western Champs. The concept of building an entire racecar from the ground up in seven months seemed very doable when I was sitting at a bar, drinking craft beers from Tactical Ops Brewing back in March. However, in September — and sober — as I was thrashing on the car at 4:30 a.m. trying to get it ready for a test day at the track, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. We did get the car done, but there were some sacrifices in the process. Mrs. Krider hasn’t seen me in a month, my bank account is empty, and my hands have a few new scars on them. Racing sure is fun!

Once we had the B18A1 powertrain, built by TEM Machine Shop, slapped into the DA chassis, it was time to connect all the sensors and wires through the Chase Bays wiring harness to the AEM Infinity computer and try to fire the car up. Honda Challenge rules require the ECU, aftermarket or not, to be placed in the stock mounting position. Aj Gracy at Performance In-Frame Tuning used his computer-controlled plasma cutter to make a custom mount to hold the AEM Infinity and fuse block to the foot well near the passenger seat. Aj built an entire custom wiring system for the interior of the car, which included a new switch panel for the dashboard. For gauges we opted for the Racepak IQ3 data logger, which provides shift lights, predictive lap timing, and a multitude of digital gauges to keep track of what is happening with the car. The only issue was the Racepak needed its own custom mount to be installed in the car. Aj fired up his plasma cutter again and built the perfect backing plate for the Racepak system. He welded the plate to the top of the steering column so the gauge cluster and shift lights could be viewed by the driver through the steering wheel. It was important to have all of the interior components sourced and in place — seat, steering wheel, gauges, etc. — when welding these components together to ensure ergonomics and visibility for the driver. We chose a Driven suede-wrapped, three-spoke steering wheel with the Double Nickel Nine Motorsports logo custom painted on the wheel.

For gauges we use a Racepak IQ3 data logger, which shows data coming through a CAN bus system from the AEM Infinity ECU. Additionally it has a GPS antenna on the roof of the car for lap times. It also has a really slick progressive shift-light system to ensure you don’t over-rev the engine.
For gauges we use a Racepak IQ3 data logger, which shows data coming through a CAN bus system from the AEM Infinity ECU. Additionally it has a GPS antenna on the roof of the car for lap times. It also has a really slick progressive shift-light system to ensure you don’t over-rev the engine.
The custom switch panel built by Aj Gracy at Performance In-Frame Tuning has extra-long switches for easy access while wearing gloves. The last switch on the right was added for future expansion and isn’t connected to anything, so we put a label on it to keep the rest of the field in Honda Challenge 4 guessing. Who doesn’t want a Vtec/Nitrous switch in their Honda racecar?
The custom switch panel built by Aj Gracy at Performance In-Frame Tuning has extra-long switches for easy access while wearing gloves. The last switch on the right was added for future expansion and isn’t connected to anything, so we put a label on it to keep the rest of the field in Honda Challenge 4 guessing. Who doesn’t want a Vtec/Nitrous switch in their Honda racecar?
To get the car to go through the corners, we installed a custom Driven steering wheel with our Double Nickel Nine Motorsports logo on it, and added a push-to-talk button from Sampson Racing Communications.
To get the car to go through the corners, we installed a custom Driven steering wheel with our Double Nickel Nine Motorsports logo on it, and added a push-to-talk button from Sampson Racing Communications.
Deleting the power steering and emissions equipment, and adding the wiring harness from Chase Bays with the coil-on-plug ignition system from AEM really cleans things up under the hood. We added thermal wrap to the header to keep things cool under the hood, used Hasport motor mounts to keep things in place, and added an Unorthodox Racing lightweight oil cap.
Deleting the power steering and emissions equipment, and adding the wiring harness from Chase Bays with the coil-on-plug ignition system from AEM really cleans things up under the hood. We added thermal wrap to the header to keep things cool under the hood, used Hasport motor mounts to keep things in place, and added an Unorthodox Racing lightweight oil cap.
Aj Gracy and his crew at Performance In-Frame Tuning in Napa, Calif., have a computer-controlled plasma cutter and they make artwork like this ECU mount, which includes main power connections and fuse block.
Aj Gracy and his crew at Performance In-Frame Tuning in Napa, Calif., have a computer-controlled plasma cutter and they make artwork like this ECU mount, which includes main power connections and fuse block.
To mount our Racepak dash to the car, Aj Gracy used his computer controlled plasma cutter to create the backing plate and then welded it to the steering column. The positioning of this had to be just right so the driver could look through the steering wheel and see the shift lights and readouts on the Racepak.
To mount our Racepak dash to the car, Aj Gracy used his computer controlled plasma cutter to create the backing plate and then welded it to the steering column. The positioning of this had to be just right so the driver could look through the steering wheel and see the shift lights and readouts on the Racepak.

As we were jacking and lowering the car during the build, we started hearing these ugly pinging noises as the suspension settled. It was the spring hats binding and then popping into the perches. We talked to the engineers at Eibach and they had a solution to our problem, a set of 4-inch helper springs. The helper springs have a very low rate and when the car is lowered onto the suspension they are immediately flattened and have no effect on handling. When the suspension droops and the shock expands larger than the main springs, the helper springs expand and ensure the hat stays up in the perch, keeping things where they need to be — and avoiding binding and loud noises. We threw a set in and also added some bearings under the main springs to help them rotate during compression and for ease of adjusting ride height on the dual-adjustable MCS shocks. Problem solved. Once we had that all installed, we had the car corner weighted by Achilles Motorsports in Fresno, Calif. Even with my fat ass in the driver’s seat, we were able to get our cross weight to 49.9 percent. We aligned the adjustable Hardrace suspension components using Watkins Smart Camber and Smart Strings alignment system to get the perfect performance alignment.

Eibach solved our suspension binding issues with helper springs and bearings to take up the suspension slack at full droop. The small needle bearings under the main spring allow the spring to twist as it is compressed without binding, and make corner weighting and adjusting the ride height simpler because you can adjust the perches on the MCS shocks without twisting the spring.
Eibach solved our suspension binding issues with helper springs and bearings to take up the suspension slack at full droop. The small needle bearings under the main spring allow the spring to twist as it is compressed without binding, and make corner weighting and adjusting the ride height simpler because you can adjust the perches on the MCS shocks without twisting the spring.
Here you can see the benefit of the Eibach helper spring on our MCS shocks. The upper shock in the photo has the helper spring on it and everything fits perfectly. The lower spring in the photo does not and you can see the spring hat is loose and crooked, which happened each time the car went up on jacks.
Here you can see the benefit of the Eibach helper spring on our MCS shocks. The upper shock in the photo has the helper spring on it and everything fits perfectly. The lower spring in the photo does not and you can see the spring hat is loose and crooked, which happened each time the car went up on jacks.

We then sent it to Olson Auto Body in Sanger, Calif., to get some beautiful blue and silver paint sprayed on. The guys at Olson also filled in any holes we left in the body after removing badging, door trim, the antenna and windshield-washer nozzles. After the paint cured, we got busy adding stickers to the car to add more horsepower. Sticker application, if done properly, takes more time than you think. Pro tip: Don’t drink and add stickers. Chances are they will be crooked and you will have to get more and redo them. Designate a sober sticker applicator, especially for the series-required Honda Challenge banner across the windshield. That is an easy one to mess up and Honda doesn’t give them away for free.

A racecar isn’t a racecar until it has a hundred stickers on it. We learned that when you are close to the car it is easy to put stickers on crooked. Using string and tape as a guideline and then stepping back from the car to ensure that line is straight will help you get your stickers on right.
A racecar isn’t a racecar until it has a hundred stickers on it. We learned that when you are close to the car it is easy to put stickers on crooked. Using string and tape as a guideline and then stepping back from the car to ensure that line is straight will help you get your stickers on right.
We scored some vehicle emblems on the cheap from Ebay and created this Honda Challenge 4 logo for our rear hatch. We sourced the Honda logo from a Prelude, the Challenge is a Dodge Challenger logo with the R cut off, and the 4 is from a 4WD logo with the WD cut off.
We scored some vehicle emblems on the cheap from Ebay and created this Honda Challenge 4 logo for our rear hatch. We sourced the Honda logo from a Prelude, the Challenge is a Dodge Challenger logo with the R cut off, and the 4 is from a 4WD logo with the WD cut off.

For aerodynamic aids, we did a DIY Home Depot splitter for the front of the car and purchased an APR Performance wing for the rear of the car. The key component for both pieces is neither of them can protrude from the stock outline of the car per Honda Challenge rules. To ensure our wing placement was legal we used plumb bobs attached to the outer edges of the wing to help us find the proper/legal mounting position on the rear hatch. Whatever was still outside the bodyline of the car we simply hacked off with a Sawz-All. There was nothing scientific about it other than simply power-sawing through wood and carbon fiber until the fitment was within the Honda Challenge rules set.

For rear downforce we added an APR Performance wing to the trunk lid. The rules in Honda Challenge specify that no portion of the wing can protrude outside of the stock bodyline. To ensure we were within the rules set, we used a plumb bob taped to the wing to mount.
For rear downforce we added an APR Performance wing to the trunk lid. The rules in Honda Challenge specify that no portion of the wing can protrude outside of the stock bodyline. To ensure we were within the rules set, we used a plumb bob taped to the wing to mount.

As we were finalizing details on the car, we found that in deleting the power steering system we caused ourselves a lot of puddles of power steering fluid under the car. Our DIY power steering line loop didn’t seal well. Luckily for us, Devsport makes a power steering delete kit for the DA Integra, which comes with two lines that thread correctly into the steering box to keep the fluid where it should be — in the rack — as opposed to the ground, the track, under your car, and all over your rear bumper.

We deleted the power steering to save weight and horsepower. We used this loop kit from Devsport, which included two lines that thread directly into the steering rack. The kit worked great and solved a bunch of power steering fluid leaks we had when we attempted to make our own loop kit unsuccessfully.
We deleted the power steering to save weight and horsepower. We used this loop kit from Devsport, which included two lines that thread directly into the steering rack. The kit worked great and solved a bunch of power steering fluid leaks we had when we attempted to make our own loop kit unsuccessfully.

Before we could fire the car up, we needed to add an exhaust system. We went with a custom built unit from Steve Cardwell at Napa Valley Muffler. He cut, ground and bent some tubing that would have almost no restriction on the exhaust, was lightweight, missed the shifter components, and would shatter the eardrums of anyone within a hundred yards of the car. That is correct, no muffler on a Honda engine, so plug your ears. The Western State National Championships are being held at Buttonwillow Raceway where there is no sound restriction. Everyone between Bakersfield and Fresno will know when the green flag drops for Honda Challenge finale in October.

For exhaust we went with as little as possible for weight savings and performance. All we have is a straight pipe from the header to just behind the driver. Here you can see Steve Cardwell from Napa Valley Muffler cutting our pipe at just the right angle for maximum flow.
For exhaust we went with as little as possible for weight savings and performance. All we have is a straight pipe from the header to just behind the driver. Here you can see Steve Cardwell from Napa Valley Muffler cutting our pipe at just the right angle for maximum flow.

Dan “Gadget” Bordeau at Performance In-Frame Tuning removed emissions devices from the intake manifold and built blocking plates that worked perfectly. But we ran into other problems while deleting some of the emission controls from the car. When we deleted the charcoal canister under the hood to save weight up front, we vented the fuel tank out of the left rear quarter panel. But that turned out to be a bad idea because gas sloshed out of the vent tube with a full tank. This was unsafe and made the interior stink like gasoline. I hate it when I modify something I really didn’t need to and screw up a perfectly good working system designed by intelligent Japanese engineers. These situations always make me feel like a moron who should probably not be screwing with stuff. To resolve the issue, we sourced a reservoir canister from Phase2Motortrend to vent the fuel tank and not spill gas or fumes and mounted it in the rear of the car for better weight distribution. Self-inflicted problem solved.

We initially deleted all emissions control gear and vented our fuel tank with a simple hose exiting the car near the fuel filler door in the left quarter panel. With a full fuel tank, this resulted in spilled gas on the track and lots of fumes in the interior. Not good. We resolved this issue using a canister from Phase2Motortrend and it worked great.
We initially deleted all emissions control gear and vented our fuel tank with a simple hose exiting the car near the fuel filler door in the left quarter panel. With a full fuel tank, this resulted in spilled gas on the track and lots of fumes in the interior. Not good. We resolved this issue using a canister from Phase2Motortrend and it worked great.

Then came the moment of truth: Hit the starter button and see if the thing would fire. The car started on the first try, which was a great relief. Then Aj Gracy sat in the driver’s seat with his laptop and began to dyno tune the car at every possible rpm. The AEM Infinity ECU allows for live data logging, which allowed Aj to see what the engine was doing as he made timing and air/fuel adjustments. This helped Aj to find power gains throughout the rpm range and ensure we had as much torque and horsepower as possible. So, what was the magic number? Like I would tell you. Come to the Western States Championships to find out.

AEM provides a slick little thumb drive for data logging. They also include a USB cord extension that threads into the AEM Infinity ECU so you don’t have to reach under the dash to remove the memory stick. We used some Velcro to hold it on the dashboard for easy access.
AEM provides a slick little thumb drive for data logging. They also include a USB cord extension that threads into the AEM Infinity ECU so you don’t have to reach under the dash to remove the memory stick. We used some Velcro to hold it on the dashboard for easy access.
Aj Gracy from Performance In-Frame Tuning uses his laptop to tune the car on the dyno. Using the AEM software, he can read all the sensors in the engine feeding the AEM Infinity ECU and then adjust the timing and air/fuel mixture at every rpm to gain as much power as possible.
Aj Gracy from Performance In-Frame Tuning uses his laptop to tune the car on the dyno. Using the AEM software, he can read all the sensors in the engine feeding the AEM Infinity ECU and then adjust the timing and air/fuel mixture at every rpm to gain as much power as possible.
To ensure the driver could open the door quickly, especially in an emergency, we used some cable with some plastic tubing on it and created a lightweight door handle. It works great and cost us about $2 in hardware from Orchard Supply.
To ensure the driver could open the door quickly, especially in an emergency, we used some cable with some plastic tubing on it and created a lightweight door handle. It works great and cost us about $2 in hardware from Orchard Supply.

The “Speed News” magazine Honda Challenge Budget Build is officially complete. It went from a $500 impounded stock 1993 Acura Integra to a Honda Challenge H4 car in seven months. The car went through one shakedown weekend at Buttonwillow, which was successful and it will hit the track again for some fine-tuning of the adjustable MCS dampers before the big day in mid-October. Wish us luck. We will need it.

Here is the 1993 Acura Integra several months ago as we began to strip it down and build a Honda Challenge 4 car from a $500 chassis we found impounded at a tow yard. A lot of man-hours went into finishing this project.
Here is the 1993 Acura Integra several months ago as we began to strip it down and build a Honda Challenge 4 car from a $500 chassis we found impounded at a tow yard. A lot of man-hours went into finishing this project.

 

Done! Built and ready for the NASA Western States Championships in October at Buttonwillow Raceway. We chose the blue and orange livery because it would be easy for spotters to see the car on track.
Done! Built and ready for the NASA Western States Championships in October at Buttonwillow Raceway. We chose the blue and orange livery because it would be easy for spotters to see the car on track.

To read more from Rob Krider or to contact him go to www.robkrider.com.

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Image courtesy of Rob Krider