The ultimate Civic track car, 20+ years in the making

Staff
By Staff Writer
Oct 29, 2022 | Honda, Civic, GRM+ | Posted in Features | From the Feb. 2021 issue | Never miss an article

Photography by Tara Hurlin unless otherwise credited

Enthusiasts have been modifying Hondas for decades, taking advantage of these capable platforms and fostering a constantly growing aftermarket. Todd Reid has been at it for years, sticking with the same Civic since 1997. That puts him right in the middle of the sport compact scene as it came to a boil. 

I’ve owned it for 23 years and have been racing it for 22, and it’s still competitive,” he beams. Despite competition from modern technology and new race car platforms that offer all the latest driver aids, Todd’s Honda still holds its own. And even after owning, building and racing other platforms, from a Lotus Super 7 to a Lancer Evo, he says this car remains his favorite.

The car’s power and grip are absolutely phenomenal,” he explains. “It’s light and nimble and very analog, with zero driver aids or electronic help. There’s no ABS or traction control or even power steering.”   

Every project needs a goal, and one of Todd’s has been to break a 2-minute lap at Virginia International Raceway. “Front-wheel drive makes it a little tougher to get under that magic 2-minute barrier, but I’ve always been a believer and lover of front-wheel drive, especially Hondas,” he says. 

He came close to that target at last year’s Tire Rack Ultimate Track Car Challenge when he sped past the finish at 2:01.9 during the Knockout Race. That time earned him bragging rights as the fastest front-drive car at the event. 

The original 102-horsepower engine is long gone, with the chassis receiving a series of more powerful replacements. The goal for the current setup, a turbocharged K24, is 600 horsepower. 

It has adjustable boost,” he says. “Last year, when I was at the UTCC–as you know, it was hot that day–I had the boost set as low as it will go: about 15 psi. That’s equal to about 450 wheel horsepower. It can be turned up to 510 wheel horsepower but it will overheat even faster, so I had it at 450.”

Another factor in the car’s on-track performance is the hard-to-miss aero. “It has an APR rear wing on it with a custom-built metal tube cage supporting it, going through the plexiglass rear window down to welded plates in the rear floor. Didn’t want any chance of it breaking off like that Subaru a bunch of years ago that caused a massive crash in the Esses.”

The front splitter and canards were built by the Fortune Auto crew, but they’ve been a work in progress. “The front splitter is shortened significantly now compared to years ago when it was first made for me,” he explains. “Back then, the car was strictly a time attack car and was much lower to the ground with a much bigger splitter. Now that I also use it for hillclimbs, where the roads are super bumpy with jumps and humps, I’ve raised the ride height over 1.25 inch and cut back the front splitter nearly by half.”

The final aero components include a rear aluminum diffuser plus the flat floor and sill extensions. All were made by Fortune Auto.

Recent suspension upgrades involved a swap to spherical joints–so all of the soft bushings were removed–along with a new, bigger radiator with additional ducting. 

From Horses to Horsepower

An Ivy League-educated mechanical engineer, Todd runs his own successful IT support business. On weekends, he indulges his inner daredevil: racing, coaching, instructing and even crewing.

But Todd didn’t start on four wheels, or even two. “I rode horses every day of my life until I was 18,” he says. He did some bike racing during college, but it wasn’t until he graduated and was working that he became aware something was missing from his life.

“It all started with autocross, the main focus being speed and accuracy,” he says. “I did that for a few years, and by the third year I was consistently winning.” 

He bought his first racing helmet after discovering Porsche’s driver education programs, which he ran in his Mazda Miata. His first track experience took place at West Virginia’s Summit Point Motorsports Park. Todd’s instructor deemed him a natural and moved him up to the intermediate group immediately after the first session. 

When Todd Reid started running this Civic, it was still his daily driver. The constant upgrades–more power, less weight–have turned it into a track-only machine.

From there, Todd moved to wheel-to-wheel racing, first with the Civic but then with a Ford Probe GT for a while. “No one raced them,” he says of the Probe. “In fact, everyone thought they were terrible.” 

But Todd figured out a way to make his Probe fast. “One year, I won 10 out of 11 races. No one was even close,” he grins. “The next year, officials tried to even the playing field and added 100 pounds to my car, and then 50 more the year after. Even with the additional weight, the Probe and I were more often than not seen on the podium.”

Never Give Up

Todd’s success hasn’t come without roadblocks. His closest call on the track came just as he was planning to retire his Probe from serious competition. 

The Probe was worn out and tired from years and years of hard racing, Todd says, and it was starting to slow down. He figured that it had one more big event left in it: HyperFest 2014 at Summit Point in West Virginia.  

A fast, up-and-coming driver in a well-prepared CRX was the main competition, and the two cars spent the entire race swapping the lead. Todd recalls that on the last lap, going through Turn 9 side by side, something had to give. The cars touched.

The Probe went into the grass and straight up the embankment before it slammed, passenger side first, into the branches of a sizeable tree. “The tree cut halfway through my car, right through the passenger-side roll cage,” Todd recalls. “It got my finger, which was on the steering wheel. I could hear my engine screaming. I had never let off the accelerator trying to save it in the grass. It was still floored while I was in the tree.”

The Probe–with Todd still inside–soon fell to the ground. Then the tree collapsed on top of the car. He was trapped in the only intact part of the car, as the rest had been crushed. 

Todd was promptly extricated from the cockpit and airlifted to a medical center, where he remained hospitalized for a few days to recuperate from a severe concussion, torn ankle ligaments and the partially amputated finger. 

A longtime goal for this project has been a 2-minute lap around Virginia International Raceway. Just one more second is needed to get there.

A few weeks after the crash, he went to the wrecking yard and saw what was left of his car. It was a sobering moment. “It wasn’t until I looked in the cockpit that I realized how lucky I was to be alive,” he recalls. Amazingly, when he looked up the race results online, he discovered that he was the winner.

“After that, my daughter asked if I was going to give up racing,” he adds. “But I can’t give up what I do best.”

Todd explains that racing isn’t just about the competition, though: “It’s about the people you meet, the family feel, and the spirit and camaraderie. Everyone helps everyone else, even if they are a direct competitor.”

Owner's Log

In his own words: Todd Reid’s Civic experience captures the evolution of the Honda racing scene 

It’s a 1995 Honda Civic DX–the EG chassis. I bought the car slightly used in 1997. I had totaled my only car/daily driver/HPDE car, which was a 1995 GTI VR6, up at Pocono in the rain, so I needed another car to drive to work immediately. One of the secretaries at the company I worked for at the time had the Civic and wanted to sell it, so I offered $7K and she said “Sold!” I drove it for a year as my everyday car, bone stock.  

In late ’98, I did a track event with it just for shits and giggles–bone stock on the stock 13-inch tires, stock brakes, stock everything, just about a hundred horsepower. It was a hoot, but slow.

In early ’99, I put an Autopower cage in it, along with a DC Sports header, race exhaust with a muffler, cold-air intake and chipped ECU. It still had the stock D15B7 engine. I put on a set of Jamex springs and shocks–that’s a blast from the past–and 15-inch Integra GS-R wheels with 205/50R15 Yokohama A032R tires. I installed Integra front spindles with 11-inch, redrilled Prelude VTEC rotors and Accord wagon front calipers–Type R brake swap–and installed a 1-inch Integra master cylinder. Then I took it to an EMRA road race school weekend, got my comp license, and proceeded to race with EMRA for that year.

Next year, I pulled the engine and trans and swapped in a bone-stock B18B engine and transmission from a 1994 Integra LS. I added a KOS four-into-one exhaust and raced that with EMRA for two years. All this time it was my only car–didn’t have a truck or trailer–and I drove it to work every day with the cage and all.

I bought a truck and trailer–no more daily driving my race car!–so next I was pulling the motor and having it rebuilt with higher-compression pistons, a ported/polished head, a Skunk2 intake manifold, custom Web cams, a custom valve job, dual springs, titanium retainers and an Erick’s Racing ECU. It was still non-VTEC and made about 180 wheel horsepower. I also added a big radiator and oil cooler and a 2000 Civic Si B16A transmission. I switched to Skunk2 coil-overs and Tokico Illumina adjustable shocks. I ran it that way with NASA Mid Atlantic in the East Coast Honda Challenge’s H1 class. I was there in the very first race. I ran it that way until end of 2003–finished many times in second and third but never won a race. Every other H1 car at that time had a GS-R or Type R swap, and I was the lone non-VTEC holdout.

Photography Credits: Courtesy Todd Reid

In 2004, I pulled the built, non-VTEC B18B drivetrain and sold it. I installed a 2002 Acura RSX-S complete K20A2 drivetrain and six-speed swap. I was the first on the East Coast to do the conversion on a road race car. It wasn’t easy. We had to make lots of the parts that you can now buy right off the shelf, but not back then. We made our own header, made our own return-style fuel system, and put an OEM Torsen and 5.0:1 final drive in the six-speed. I added a Hondata K-Pro ECU and had it dyno tuned. I switched to DMS coil-overs. Ran it like this until 2007 in Honda Challenge in many, many races with success.

In 2007 I stopped racing in Honda Challenge–costs were just getting too high in H1–and instead started racing my Ford Probe GT in PS1 and then PTE. But I didn’t stop driving the Honda: I converted it to a turbo setup for time attacks, which were just starting to be a thing to do back then. Basically, I took out all the ballast, put in plexiglass and bolted on a basic GReddy street turbo for an RSX-S. Low boost at only 6 psi and no intercooler, but I did use my own custom-built water injection. It made about 280 wheel horsepower. The same K20A2 motor was still in there–stock internally and with many miles of racing on it–but now with the turbo. I spent most of 2007 and 2008 sorting it out and fixing things and making it work at driver education events. 

Then the car sort of rested in my garage, not being used as I was driving a built Evo VIII for Fortune Auto at time attacks around the East Coast. Shortly after that, they asked to build up my EG into a FWD Limited Time Attack car. That’s when the wing and ground effects went on it, along with the Fortune Auto 510-series coil-overs. Boost got cranked up to 10 psi, and an intercooler was added–about 330 wheel horsepower, I think. I ran it at a bunch of time attacks and did well with it. I finally blew that original stock motor to smithereens on the show “R U Faster Than a Redneck?” I’d have won the $10K, I’m almost positive, as I won every single race and blew up on the next-to-last-race just as I was crossing the finish line.

Fortune Auto replaced the K20A2 motor with a built-for-boost K24 bottom end with my K20A2 head and the little GReddy turbo. We had some issues with that, and it never made as good a power as the smaller K20A2 did with the GReddy. The GReddy turbo was just too small for the K24. I went to the UTCC with that setup for two years, and I think my best was a 2:10-ish. After that year, I put the Civic to sleep again for a few years and parted ways (agreeably) with Fortune Auto.

Around 2017, I decided to try a hillclimb event and brought the Civic out of retirement. Did three or four events and had a blast. Because of my mods from time attack I got put in the SMX class, which is populated by things like LS-swapped everything–FD Mazda RX-7, E36-chassis BMW M3, all over 500 wheel horsepower. I decided, of course, that I needed more power. Doesn’t that fix everything?

In late 2017-’18, I upgraded the turbo to a BorgWarner EFR7163 setup with Full-Race manifold, bigger injectors and a whole bunch of goodies. At low boost–15 psi–it made 450 wheel horsepower; at 20 psi it made over 510. Now she was breathing. That work was all done at Atlantic Motorsports down in Maryland.

I took it to the 2018 UTCC running on the old 225/45R15 Nitto NT01s that had been on it since 2013 and did a 2:07 with massive wheelspin everywhere. But she was moving.

I then cut out the front wheel wells, added big flares, and put on some massive custom Jongbloed 15x10.5-inch front wheels with 295/35R15 Hoosier A7s; the rears were 225/45R15 Hankook Z214 C71s on 7-inch-wide Koseis. I ran a 2:01.9 at the 2019 UTCC on Saturday’s Knockout Race. I was so thrilled with that 2:01. I won fastest front-wheel drive, too.  

Over the winter of 2019 and into 2020, the Civic has been at a new shop, Tutomo Racing in Newark, New Jersey, getting a more serious tune-up. Tommy’s the man when it comes to tuning Honda turbos, and we are shooting for 550-600 wheel horsepower at the next event.

That’s where the car stands right now. I’ve owned it for 23 years and almost all of those have been racing years. I’ll never sell her unless–gulp–she’s totaled out in a bad wreck.

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Comments
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calteg
calteg Dork
12/24/21 9:19 a.m.

Absolutely love that car. I feel like an EG with a k swap would be the perfect DD

Matt B (fs)
Matt B (fs) UltraDork
2/22/22 4:14 p.m.

I still miss my EG Si.  It proved to be formative for my tastes and shennanigans. I still drive a hatchback.

GM > MG
GM > MG New Reader
4/4/22 12:14 p.m.

That's the smart thing.

Keep building an improving, push the line alittle each year. He has all that background data to help him make very informed decision instead of throwing money at an issue. I would bet if you amortized his investment over the 25 years he's had that car his cost are ridiculous now (in racing terms not normal life).

Wish I did that...

indecisionfrownangry

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