The Traccord: A GRM Forum Build Makes the Big Show

One Lap of America isn’t solely the domain of supercars and high-output exotics. Machines of all statures are welcome–including Honda Accords.

Seth Lemke, longtime GRM message board member, $2000 Challenge participant, One Lap alum, and builder of the world’s most famous R63 AMG minivan, entered his 2003 Honda Accord coupe. It wasn’t the V6 model, either, but a four-cylinder car sporting a five-speed manual box. Seth chronicled both the build and the One Lap outing on our message board to the tune of 60-plus pages.

During a previous One Lap, he established in an early post, he drove two different Hondas, a 2009 Civic Si and a 2005 Acura TL. The Civic Si had the power, while the TL had the chassis. “I wanted the unholy union of those two cars,” he wrote. “A bunch of talking and reading led me to the conclusion that Honda didn’t make what I wanted, but they came close.”

The Accord gave him double A-arms front and rear, along with a torquey K24 engine and a lighter, slick-top body. The available V6 and six-speed manual box only came paired with the moonroof, hence the purchase of the four-cylinder model. “With a K20 head and some other stuff, it has potential,” he reasoned early on. “The six speed from the Civic should swap right in if I can find one.” Those two mods never happened, yet plenty of other work did.

Seth devoted lots of energy to shedding mass. He explained that if the Nelson family had taught us anything in their long and successful $2000 Challenge career, it’s that 16 ounces make a pound. How did Seth manage to lighten the car? Installing lightweight carpet saved 19 pounds. The stereo system wasn’t entirely removed, but he pulled 12 pounds from it. Tossing some bracing found in the glove box door shaved almost 2 pounds alone. He left the heat and a/c in place, though, so the team would be comfortable during transits.

Seth added some speed parts, too. After finding the stock brakes weren’t up to snuff, he installed a Fastbrakes kit up front: Wilwood four-piston calipers and 12.6-inch rotors. Carbotech built some custom shoes for the stock rear drums.

Adjustable Skunk2 upper control arms allowed for more caster. “Honestly, they’re only $100 more than the ‘cheaper but may or may not let go in a 90mph sweeper’ version,” he posted. “If they fit perfectly and I never have to think about them again then it’s money well spent.” Konis and used threaded sleeves were also installed.

The Accord’s tires–the ones it ran during development as well as the ones used during the One Lap itself–all came from Tire Rack. “You have to call to get One Lap tires because they need to be branded for the event,” he posted. “I generally hate calling people on the phone but I love calling Tire Rack.”

Out of the 75 cars that started the event, 66 made it back to Tire Rack to take the checker. Seth’s Accord finished 64th overall and didn’t miss a single stage.

The car was basically perfect for what it is,” he continued. “28.93 mpg over the 5800 miles of the week. We added a bit over four quarts of oil during the week. Never took a wheel off the car. The only thing that went wrong was blowing the fuse for the AC compressor. Luckily I keep the factory spare fuse spots full and that got things blowing cold again.”

Today the car has returned to daily service. “I’ll still use it for track days and I’m sure it will see OLOA again, just not right now,” Seth posted. “It’s a good car. It’s done what I hoped it would do when I bought it. I think it can still be better.”

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