VTEC Club Final Round 2015 Coverage…Part 1…

I’ve been to Buttonwillow a lot this year. I mean, all these events going on makes me lose any sense or concept of time but I’ve definitely been to Buttonwillow Raceway more than I ever expected to this year. Someone I even managed to get my Odyssey on the track during one of the Redline Time Attack events. There was a time awhile back when people were always egging me on to go to the track more and see what it had to offer…so I did. Not only that, I’ve been very active in supporting my friend Yuta Akaishi’s racing efforts anytime that he’s gone out to the track. So much so that I’ve even contributed to his race car build that should be ready some time in 2016. A lot of people always pegged me as just a “car show guy” and made it seem like I never gave any track guys any type of “shine” but I consider myself a car guy in general and as such, I enjoy a little bit of everything. I don’t think you’ll find another guy out here in the scene today that attends as many events as I do on my own dime so excuse me if I don’t always have the time to go to your specific event. I am everywhere. Whenever I have a free moment, I attend and go do car shit because that’s what I love to do. Car show stuff has just always appealed to me more because car shows is what helped me get into the import tuning community when I first developed a fascination with modified vehicles. If you ask me now, I still enjoy car shows better because most of my friends are involved with building quality show cars. Some are into racing and track events as well as car shows so I go out and support them as well. December is supposed to be a cool down month for me. I usually try to squeeze in a break during the end of the year to recharge for the next year but there hasn’t been much relaxing since SEMA 2015. That SEMA week was supposed to be the last major event for me this year but since Super Lap Battle was happening the following week, I wanted to make sure to go to hang out with friends there. Yuta was driving and I was busy covering the Spoon Sports FD2 Civic in its quest to break the Unlimited FF record so any sort of “break” was just not in the cards for me. Honestly, if there are good events happening, I’ll sacrifice that time to be there because I’ve been placed in a very enviable position as many don’t have the opportunity to attend as many events as I do/can. I get it. I want to be able to share these moments with people who don’t have the same opportunities as I so I just go. Why not, right? Since there was no semblance of any off-time, I decided to just continue to pack my schedule with car stuff. Wekfest Florida is coming up towards the later-half of December and I recently was requested to attend a VTEC Club event, which also took place at Buttonwillow Raceway…

I’ve never been to a VTEC Club event before but it peaked my interest. Yuta is involved with helping organize the event and one of the main organizers, Duane Bada, has been coming by the shop lately to talk about the event with Yuta so I’ve come to learn a great deal about it. Duane is a nice, dedicated, individual who really wants to push VTEC Club into a major event series and he wanted me to see the event for myself. The only problem with that was that any time a VTEC Club event was happening, I either had other prior engagements or I just wasn’t in California that particular weekend to attend. The December event was the final round of the VTEC Club series and it finally landed on a weekend where I was free so of course, I obliged. Yuta was going to drive his EG Civic hatchback at the event so I would go as track support too along with providing media coverage. Der wasn’t doing anything either so he rode along with me in a nice, normal car with a working heater while Yuta drove his gutted Civic in temperatures that dipped into the low 40s that morning. VTEC Club is still gaining traction, but for those that aren’t familiar, it is an event dedicated to Hondas that operates within the Extreme Speed Track Event Series. I’ll let Yuta Akaishi explain it to you because I feel he would be a more appropriate speaker on behalf of VTEC Club:

As the racing season winds down for the year we found ourselves heading out to Buttonwillow Raceway Park one last time, the cold December day marked the final VTEC Club round of the season. Although the series has been around for a few years now – hosted by Extreme Speed Track Events, you wouldn’t know it without having stumbled across it by pure chance. As far as the vast majority of competitors and spectators are concerned, the series may have well been founded just short of a year ago, in reality that was when the current group of organizers led by Duane Bada took over the name. The new VTEC Club committee includes several very well respected figures in this industry such as Tom “Tom Attack” Liang – who may have been involved in motorsports as long as some competitors have been alive, Matt Rojana – Ballade Sport’s driver, Kristian Wong – SP Engineering’s tuner and owner of Battle Craft, as well as Amir Bentatou – Extreme Speed’s lead instructor, together they restructured the series from the ground up. A new event schedule (split into two seasons per calendar year) was established, a new set of classing rules for four competition classes (N2, N, A2 and A) was created to accommodate an ever diversifying group of cars and allowing them to be truly competitive. Practically over-night, the popularity of the series exploded, attendance jumped to over sixty registered competitors per event. -Yuta Akaishi

Sounds interesting, right? I’ve gradually sort of stepped-away from being that “Honda-dedicated” media guy and now cover a wide range of makes and models but VTEC Club sounds like something that I would have covered even had it been 5-7 years ago. All Hondas driven by privateers at a famed race track sounds like a novel idea and something right up my alley. If you’re wondering, I didn’t Vlog this time around. I feel like I’ve been doing so much video lately that I’m starting to lose focus on my photography endeavors. The camera almost felt foreign to me that day because I hadn’t used it in so long. The last time I even attempted to shoot was at the 2015 VIP Festival and I pulled out my camera only to realize that I didn’t even remember to bring a memory card to shoot with. Seriously, that’s how long it has been. I was ill-prepared to shoot but I made sure to get back on track (no pun intended). I brought the GoPro with intentions to do some video too but at no point was I really trying to Vlog anything. I’m dividing the series into different seasons and the November Vlogs featuring the 2015 SEMA Show was the season finale. I don’t plan to resume filming until 2016. Below are a TON of photos that I shot that Sunday at the final round of VTEC Club…

I think I’m going to have to divide it into two different parts because of how many photos there are and I have a little bit more to discuss as far as how crazy the day was so I’ll save that for Part 2…

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We started out the day looking for a place to pit Yuta’s car since there were so many Hondas there that day and a limited amount of space. We ended up pitting next to Andrew Horn and his EK along with Tom Liang aka Tom-Attack’s EF Civic…

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Andrew is from Drow Sports, who also helped to build Phaze2 Mikey’s Ruckus that is currently collecting dust here at HQ where I’m typing this. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a chance to get a good look at Andrew’s EK before so it was nice to have some time to give it a thorough look-through…

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Kristian Wong from SP Engineering and Sean Lucas from Narita Dogfight was out to check out the event that day as well…

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Andrew’s Civic was prepped specifically for the track that day with a filled-in carbon grill insert and carbon headlight covers. The left side is also a duct that helps to drive air into the intake inside…

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Son Vo’s S2000 being towed back to the pit area after going off during one of the earlier sessions that morning…

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The fully-gutted interior of Andrew Horn’s EK…

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Radio and A/C controls are all removed to save weight. In its place is a flat carbon panel holding two gauges that monitor both water and oil temperatures….

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The engine bay is nicely done. Powering the Civic is a B16B CTR engine and you can also see the remote reservoirs for the Eibach Multi-Pro R2 coilovers…

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Here you can get a good look at how the cage is designed inside the EK…

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It was interesting to see Alex Doan’s Spoon Sports-themed S2000 out and about again. It seems like it has been forever since this car has been outside, let alone at an event. For those unfamiliar, this S2000 is from Ballade Sports, built by Doan, and powered by a K24 engine…

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Classic combo with signature bronze Volk CE28 wheels and Spoon Sports Monoblock front brakes…

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I wanted to see the S2000 run a couple more sessions that morning but Alex ran into some issues with oil starvation and shut the car down for the day. He ended up leaving early too so I didn’t get to shoot any more photos of it…

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Yuta Akaishi’s EG Civic back on the 15-inch RS Watanabe wheels next to Tom Liang’s EF Civic with full JHPUSA livery…

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AP2 S2000 with a Mooncraft-style hardtop and Volk CE28…

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Ryan Constantino brought out his EF hatchback with a fresh new Advan-inspired livery. Cool to see modern Hondas wearing classic colorways inspired by old Honda one-make race cars in Japan…

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One more of Horn’s CTR-inspired EK…

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Justin Yoo’s Narita Dogfight-sponsored Honda S2000 on AME Tracers…

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Event organizer Duane Bada giving final instructions to Don Tran in his S2000…

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Another AP2, this one with an OEM hard top, OEM CR front lip, Voltex wing, and silver Volk Racing CEs…

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Matt Rojana and his S2000 are one of the fastest Hondas in this series…

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Nice to finally see a proper track-prepped FG Civic coupe participating in the festivities…

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Joel Etrata and his K-powered Integra sedan is yet another of the fastest in this series where he runs in the Group A2 class…

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Hoang Pham and his gutted/caged DC5 RSX. Pham runs in the Group A class and finished the day with a best lap time of 2:04.81…

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Some more photos of Son’s S2000 with the Voltex swan-neck wing after it was cleaned-up a bit. Son’s best hot lap that day was 2:00.10…

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This Spa Yellow S2000 featured a single Bride bucket seat, J’s front fenders, and a Mugen SS front bumper…

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Martin Le’s S2000 on classic SSR Type-C wheels with a Voltex rear fender flare for that wider rear tire…

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JDM EK4-styled Civic hatchback with a Mugen EK4-style carbon front lip, PCI sides, CTR rear lip, and an Autopower rollbar…

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Always good to see my buddy Steven Lam at the track with his K-powered CR-X on BMD forged wheels. He finished the day with a best lap time of 2:00.98….

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Yuta Akaishi in his Civic and getting ready for his first session of the morning…

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VTEC Club operates within the Extreme Speed track series so there were other vehicles out on CW13 that day besides Hondas. Above is a R35 GTR that went off pretty early and created a huge plume of dirt on the track…

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Yuta driving through the dust cloud…

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This was actually my first time seeing this car on the track in person with the RS Watanabe wheels back on the car. For FF Battle 7, he tracked on a set of black Volk CE28 wheels…

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There were plenty of S2000s that ran the course throughout the day. I was actually pretty surprised by just how many Hondas came out to participate in VTEC Club…

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A Lotus on front-staggered Enkei RPF1s that was running in the Extreme Speed portion of the event…

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David Ishida’s S2000 running in the Group N category of VTEC Club…

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Another EK4-themed Civic running off course a bit…

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Trying to shoot some of the cars through the dirt clouds almost make the competitors appear as if they were driving through a sand storm…

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Jay Valle’s Ferio Vi-RS inspired Civic has gradually gotten faster and faster since he began tracking this once Honda Tuning Magazine-featured build. He ended the day running a best time of 1:58.00 in the Group A category…

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Really liked how this shot came out as Valle slowed to corner through “Sunrise” and “Offramp”. Unlike other tracks, Buttonwillow has specific nicknames for each turn and not number designations…

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John Tran’s S2000 with Circuit Garage front over fenders, J’s rear flares, and custom green SSR Type-F wheels…
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BMW Z4 Coupe that ran co-op sessions alongside the many Hondas competing that day…

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Yuta once again…

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Another of the Lotus…

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Valley driving into the eye of the storm…

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Orange S2000 also running a Mugen SS (or Mugen style) front bumper…

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AP2 S2000 on gold Advan RGII, CR front lip, and J’s wing…

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One more of Jay’s sedan….

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I never realized how popular this particular style of bumper was for track-bred S2000s….

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Yuta rushing to the Port-A-Potty…

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Duane Bada’s EF piloted by his girlfriend while he was busy organizing the event that morning…

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…and closing out Part 1 with a shot of Ryan Constantino’s EF in action. That’s all for Part 1. More to come this week with Part 2 of 2 of VTEC Club Final Round coming right up!…

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