Apr 30, 2019 update to the Honda Civic Si Coupe project car

Project Civic Si: Hitting the Track

It was an evening of firsts:

• First-ever Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack held at the Florida International Rally & Motorsports Park.

• First spirited outing with our Civic Si project car—full rundown to come in a few paragraphs.

• And our first celebratory dinner eaten in a Publix parking lot. We’ll get to that, too.

The Event:

The SCCA’s Track Night in America has called South Florida’s Palm Beach International Raceway home since the program’s inception a few years ago. Now they’re looking to plant a flag in the northern part of the state at the FIRM.

I think the core is that with Track Night we want to be able to serve as much of America as possible, and North Florida is been a challenging place for us to be able to place events consistently,” explains Heyward Wagner, the SCCA’s Senior Director of Marketing and Experiential Programs. “Roebling is a great track, but we have sound curfew issues there. The hope is that we can build a strong presence at the FIRM that can feed future events there whether they be track events or time trials.”

The FIRM’s 420 acres contains a little something for everyone, from rally stages to military training facilities. It also has a tight, twisty paved track: 14 turns packed into 1.6 miles–and that’s before you add in the esses.

The FIRM’s track sports many slower, 90-degree turns. Their road course is based on their original stage rally course, which is based on a WWII bomber parking field. Call it a smaller version of Sebring. And credit the Air Force’s needs of 75-plus years ago for the layout.

In the Civic, we only needed second and third gears, with the shift light just starting to flicker at the top of third.

The first TNiA at the FIRM attracted an enthusiastic crowd, a mix of novices and intermediate drivers. Our advanced group was a little thin, though, meaning plenty of space to just click off laps. Remember, these are supposed to be fun events; Red Bull Formula 1 isn’t scouting from the bleachers.

Lots of variety in the paddock, from a Mazda Protegé wearing a shopping cart to Cobra replicas and a bunch of Hondas. Lots of GRM stickers were spotted, so thank you, everyone, for the running the colors.

The Car:

The Civic landed in our parking lot exactly two weeks before this outing. It covered about 1200 miles before the track outing. Prep was minimal: check fluids, torque lugs and clean the windshield. Tire pressures were set as recommended by Honda.

That’s it. No speed parts. No extra widgets added.

As per the TNiA usual, we got three 20-minute sessions plus a 20-minute touring session for all on site. Gates opened at 3:00, and we were on track around 4:30. The track went cold about 7:30.

The first was pretty much a familiarization run: new car on a course that we haven’t run in a while. Things started to click about halfway through that first session.

Then we started to smell brakes.

Pedal travel got a little long, so we took the checker early and then cruised around to circulate some air through those overworked brake components.

Things really came together for the second session. Use the curbs through the wiggles? Sure. Wait, is that the sound of a fender liner rubbing? Okay, let’s pit and check it out.

Diagnosis: Maybe? Or perhaps that noise was coming from the car behind us. Or maybe a tire did kiss the plastic. Either way, all looked good. Jumped back into the session. Brakes didn’t get quite as soft. Credit that too feeling more confident and allowing the chassis to work as intended.

The third session felt the best as things all came together–mainly meaning that the driver felt confident regarding all involved variables.

Race car math: more confidence means less slowing before the corners, hence happier brakes.

After an hour on track, our back-of-the-napkin analysis:For a TNiA event–which we realize isn’t an arms race–power felt very adequate for this venue. We definitely weren’t losing the horsepower battle this evening. (When you have to tap the brakes so an Improved Touring Z-car can get by, you’re doing okay.)

The gearbox feels great. The factory helical limited-slip is much appreciated, especially when digging out of those tight turns. The temp gauge never left the normal zone. Plenty of headroom for a 5-foot-7 driver wearing a helmet. Seats offered enough bolstering.

Chassis felt good and composed, too. No surprises or drama.

Lots of compliments on the color. The general consensus is that the black accents, especially the bumper mesh, tones it all down.

Another popular comment: The knobs are back! Whether on the road or at the track, the new-for-2019 volume knob works perfectly. We could dial in just the right amount of Judas Priest for the situation.

The stock all-season Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season tires also did well, especially when you consider that they’re an M+S-rated tire carrying a 560tw rating. The limits are not nearly up there with the 200tw class, but the Goodyears didn’t fall off, get greasy, or do anything weird. No noticeable wear, either. And they felt fine on the two-hour ride home.

Brakes are at the top of the to-do list: pads and fluid.

And let’s add tires to that list. The Civic Si is no longer available with a $200 summer tire option, so upgrading the rubber is also on the short list.

And that’s pretty much it.

The Dinner:

There just isn’t much to eat near Starke, Florida, especially late at night. Food through a window? Not tonight.

But, wait, what’s that on the horizon: the green Publix sign, a Florida oasis of sorts. They were winding down for the evening, so the meal ready to eat options were thin. Final choice: a container of Greek pasta salad.

Hey, at least they provide the forks.
  

 

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Comments
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mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/30/19 12:53 p.m.

I really want one of these to be my next track car. Looking forward to more on track shenanigans. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/30/19 3:35 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

I really want one of these to be my next track car. Looking forward to more on track shenanigans. 

It's very much an easy button. Glad to see the limited-slip diff remain part of the Si package. Thank you, Honda. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/30/19 3:37 p.m.

And hope that everyone appreciated the photo of the car alongside the airplanes. I could have gotten a tick while taking that photo. 

USGUYS
USGUYS New Reader
4/30/19 4:25 p.m.

I have been tracking my CTR for about a year.  It is the best street and track car that I have owned.
Pull the locating pins out of the top of strut towers and gain some camber.  Run zero toe front and rear.  It will turn better at the limit.
I need to know what tires you are going to use.  200 TW 19 inch, so the car is legal in SCCA Sport class.
 

exST165
exST165 Reader
4/30/19 5:45 p.m.

What is the headroom like for us taller folks?  I see a sunroof in your pictures which is the bane of my (sports car) existence.  Can a CTR be ordered without?  I’ve looked on the Honda website and didn’t see that option but I would like to be wrong.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/30/19 7:23 p.m.

The sunroof is standard for the Si, while the Type R doesn't get one. Here are the front headroom figures from the Honda media site:

Civic Si coupe: 36.5 in.

Civic Si sedan: 37.5 in.

Civic Type R: 39.3 in.

Civic Sport: 39.3 in. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/30/19 7:23 p.m.
USGUYS said:

I have been tracking my CTR for about a year.  It is the best street and track car that I have owned.
Pull the locating pins out of the top of strut towers and gain some camber.  Run zero toe front and rear.  It will turn better at the limit.
I need to know what tires you are going to use.  200 TW 19 inch, so the car is legal in SCCA Sport class.
 

Soon we'll be talking tires. I still need to finalize that. Soon. :)

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/30/19 7:25 p.m.

And, yeah, I want to get it on the alignment rack. 

exST165
exST165 Reader
4/30/19 10:40 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

The sunroof is standard for the Si, while the Type R doesn't get one. Here are the front headroom figures from the Honda media site:

Civic Si coupe: 36.5 in.

Civic Si sedan: 37.5 in.

Civic Type R: 39.3 in.

Civic Sport: 39.3 in. 

Thanks for that!

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Reader
5/1/19 9:46 a.m.

I swear, they put sunroofs in everything now just to try to talk people into crossovers.

Lof8
Lof8 Dork
5/1/19 10:53 a.m.

Looks fun!  I've done a couple at PBIR and am looking forward to Daytona Friday.  I think TNiA is my favorite way to get on track - very laid back and stress free.

Those Gambler 500 guys are really getting great use out of their Mazda.  They won their class at a recent rallyx at the FIRM and here they are at the Gambler!

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
5/3/19 8:56 a.m.

How heavy is the clutch on these? I’m kinda tempted to drop by a Honda dealer on the way home from work and check one out. 

docwyte
docwyte UltraDork
5/3/19 9:41 a.m.

I just can't get over how fugly these are

Snrub
Snrub HalfDork
5/3/19 11:24 a.m.

As time passes, I think the objectionable parts of the style of these cars are dulling in my eyes. I think the paint color is great. I think the Si make all kinds of sense. Honda deserves praise for including the LSD too.

My biggest concern would be the gas in the oil engine issues reported with the 1.5L. Apparently the oil level can rise at a shocking rate as gas contaminates the oil. Do some googling/reading, it's kind of crazy. Some people receive a CEL when the oil hits 25% gas!! Honda's recall claims it's a cold weather warm up tune issue, only impacting people in the north. Honda was slow acknowledging what sounds like rather significant issue and they seem to have little to no concerns about the long term impact of the issue. I can't help but wonder if these are no longer the "good for 300k+ mile" engines Honda has been known for.

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Reader
5/3/19 1:17 p.m.

I lucked out by getting the 2.0 NA model (LX and EX only I think). I didn't know about the 1.5s oil issues at the time; I just wanted to save gas and didn't think I could stay out of the boost.

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