Spoon Sports FD2 Civic and Super Lap Battle 2016…A Journey In Photos…

I’d like to think that I can still tell a pretty solid story through photos. It is a lot easier when you have more time to do it but I always try to make time to shoot more so that I continue to get better. The Vlog series has been doing really well but I do know that there are still a lot of you guys who follow the site who are just into photos. With that understanding, I try to shoot more. I think my Canon 5dMKII is super dated now. Like, I’ve owned the thing for what might be 5-6 years now and it’s time to upgrade. I think I might be more interested in shooting if I had a newer, better, camera body but that requires money and we all know that never comes easy. There are some medical bills that came up that I need to pay for that has really been killing any type of idea of trying to buy a new Canon body. Once I get that paid off maybe I can start looking into that. It seems like everyone is shooting with all kinds of new shit now like mirror-less cameras and all that other fancy stuff. I don’t really want or need all that. Just a newer Canon 5D body with some better sensors and I’m good. In any case, I’ve still been shooting. Having Tiffanie around really helps because she still love shooting photos of fucking everything, and that is always nice. It certainly beats shooting just the bare minimum to get a post up on any given day, if you know what I mean. Her work is great and watching her hone her skills with the camera has really helped to keep me invigorated to shoot. You know what else is a motivating factor in feeding that want to shoot?

Seeing really cool shit.

Granted, these photos are a bit old now but I finally decided it would be time to unload them here on the site. I originally shot these photos with the intent to post them up around SEMA time but there was just so much going on. I also promised some people that I would wait to post them because Honda Tuning digital (Super Street) had first dibs on the content and they wanted to get their stuff up first. A lot of other events happened, plus traveling, plus a bunch of other stuff, and now I’m here with a huge load of photos that I’ve had on my PC desktop since late September. It would have been a waste of time had I just decided to post them while HT was putting up their content because it would have just overlapped. If you saw their coverage on the Spoon Sports FD2 Civic already and read about all the recent updates, I still invite you to look through my photos because I didn’t approach it the same way Rodrez shot his…

I’ve been following this Honda Civic Type R for years now. Even back when it was the 5Zigen time attack car that was breaking records in Japan. I first saw it in person during my journey to Japan when I visited the Spoon Sports/Type One facilities. It was just sitting there in plain site, up on the second level of Type One, and I was in awe. It was such a bizarre machine. Not so much because it was a turbocharged FD2 Civic Type R, but because it was a turbocharged FD2 Civic Type R re-branded to be a Spoon Sports time attack vehicle. Who would have thought that this was originally the 5Zigen car and why would Spoon Sports want it? Well. The answer is quite simple. It was acquired to eventually make it over the North America to compete in American time attack. It was a car that made plenty of power, that was a very formidable time attack competitor, that would help to breathe new life into the Spoon Sports brand in North America. Gone were the days of naturally-aspirated CL7 Accord Euro-Rs competing in time attack bearing the Spoon Sports imagery. It was time for Spoon to have a car that made a ton of power like American time attack cars did and that bit of nostalgia of it still being a Spoon Sports car from Japan would add to the allure of having a truly-competitive Japanese time attack car running side-by-side with modern day American-built Japanese racecars.

A couple years ago, Chris Rado’s World Racing Scion tC was all the rage in Unlimited FWD time attack. It held the Unlimited FF record at Buttonwillow and it didn’t seem as if that record would ever be broken. That, and let’s all be honest here, did anyone really care who broke the record? It was a crazy machine with a insane front wing set-up that was fast as fuck, but how many of you actually cared? The appeal just wasn’t there for the more casual import automotive enthusiast. The engineering behind that car was amazing, but time attack was more of an activity that only those who cared about road racing concerned themselves with. Scion was a marketing giant at that time and I don’t think they could peak the interests of anyone but the racers themselves…

And then the Spoon Sports FD2 Civic Type R arrived in the States.

I’m sure you guys all know how it happened by now, but in 2015, the Spoon Sports Civic Type R reset the record in just 1:45.585…

The Spoon Sports USA team, led by Aaron Wang, Tommy Ha, and driver Dai Yoshihara, took the Unlimited FF crown in 2015 with the Spoon FD2 which featured the same engine that it had when it competed in Japan years before, the same flat bottom end, aero, with just some minor upgrades and some speed tape…oh, and a bowl of instant Ramen that was stuffed inside the front bumper for good luck…

Okay, maybe it sounded way too easy, but it certainly wasn’t. It took about a year for the car to come together for the record to be broken. I’m just sort of fast-forwarding through the whole process because there is so much content ahead… If you somehow came out from some sort of weird underground shelter recently and have no idea what happened, CLICK HERE and watch it all unfold…

Spoon Sports didn’t need any help with relevency within the Honda community. It was a brand name that was held in very high regard with most Honda enthusiasts. Even non-Honda fanatics knew what Spoon Sports was. It didn’t need an image boost but I think that Spoon Sports helped to bring more attention to  U.S. time attack with its participation. Enthusiasts who weren’t into road racing or time attack started paying attention. If a legendary company like Spoon Sports cared enough to run at Super Lap Battle in the U.S., maybe we should all pay more attention, right?…

If anything, there was just something so undeniably cool about seeing it all unfold the way it did. It made for a good story.

I spoke to Aaron soon after to see what he had planned for the Civic now that it held the record. Would he retire the car or would he attempt to have the car defend its crown? What he told me, admittedly, I thought was a bit bizarre but at the same time, it peaked my interest. The car had done it all in both Japan and the U.S. so why not get a little crazy and spark things up a bit?…

Center. Drive. Center-drive, as in, let’s move the steering wheel to the middle of the car, making it a single-seat race vehicle. Dai had done such a great job of piloting the car, let’s re-arrange his entire world and move him to the middle of the car…

Odd, yes. Could it work? Well, let’s just fucking do it and see how it goes…

Chris Eimer, Dai Yoshihara’s crew chief in the Formula Drift series, would be responsible for handling all the fabrication work. He’s a great mechanic and skilled fabricator. He also knows Dai very well and can communicate closely with him to ensure that the seating position is set-up perfectly for him. Eimer had also done a ton of work to the Spoon Sports Civic during its record breaking run at Super Lap Battle so he was equipped to handle the task…

Months and months go by and I don’t hear much about the Civic. It sort of just sat for most of the year while Aaron, Chris, and the rest of his team laid out all the plans for the (re)build. During most of 2016, I almost forgot that they were still doing anything to the car. Some time around early September, Aaron messaged me to see if I wanted to come see the progress on the Civic. I thought to myself, “progress, they’re actually doing the center-drive thing?” When Aaron reaches out to me, it’s usually something important so I agree to it. He tells me that Rodrez and HT Digital were planning on running a full story on the car and to not post up all the content right away. I’m fine with that. It’s just something cool for me to see and if I capture anything interesting, I’ll throw it up…eventually…

So from September until the week of Super Lap Battle 2016, I shot whatever I saw. Today, I’m unloading all of it for you to see. It’s quite extensive but you get to see the Spoon Sports FD2 Civic Type R from fabrication until the end of SLB 2016. It should already be known that even with all the updates, the car did not repeat as the Unlimited FF champion after the event. The cars competing in that series are getting more and more serious every year. By the end of the first day of racing at SLB, the record was already reset. William Au-Yeung from PZ Tuning brought out his Vibrant Performance-sponsored FG2 Civic and obliterated everything in sight. That car is ungodly fast and is incredibly well-engineered as a time attack vehicle. Unlimited (all puns intended) props go out to William and his team for doing what they did. It was incredibly impressive. I saw the car run at Road Atlanta this year and knew that he had a very good chance of breaking the record at Buttonwillow if he was willing to bring the car out to Super Lap Battle. He did just that.

The progress on the Spoon Sports car was pretty cool, and well overdue. The car still needs work if Spoon Sports USA decides that they want to go for the record again next year. The motor, still untouched since it came over from Japan, might need to be torn apart and rebuilt. Everyone else is just making way too much power now and you’re looking at an uphill battle if the motor remains the same. Dai is an assassin behind the wheel but needs a little bit of help in the power department if this car is going to be competitive next year. The center-drive worked out in the end, but I’m sure some more seat-time would be beneficial as well. I haven’t really spoken to Aaron much about the car at all since that day, but I’m sure he’ll keep me updated if there are some major plans in the future.

With all that said, here is what I captured during the last few months with the Spoon Sports USA team…

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During the month of September, it was still pretty hot out here in Southern California so we spent some time hanging out outside of Eimer Engineering, where the fabrication work was getting done on the FD2, so we didn’t overheat. Chris on the other hand, was melting inside his shop. That particular afternoon, outside of Chris’ shop was this Ariel Atom that he was doing some work on…

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The Honda K20 engine sans header…

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Inside, Chris Eimer was busy wrapping-up the brand new roll cage that he had fabricated for it…

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On the work table were the brand new floor-mounted pedals for the soon-to-be center-drive Civic…

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A view through the trunk while Chris was working…

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I actually met Chris Eimer last year during Super Lap Battle 2015, but never actually got to see him use his skillset at his shop…

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A dimple die panel in the process of being welded in place…

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I’ll never be one to ask anyone to rock anything of mine on their cars, anyone that knows me well will tell you that, so to see this on an actual Spoon Sports vehicle was pretty cool for me…

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Chris Eimer the mad scientist at work…

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Aaron Wang used the spare time that he had not working on the car to shoot his own photos…

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Precision is everything…

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With the engine out, I was able to get a peek at the front brakes through a cut-out section of the front wheel well…

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The iconic Spoon Sports crane…

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A rough look at the new center-drive column and its heim joints before the steering spindle is installed…

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Here you can see how the front section of the cage looks in raw form…

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The custom-mounted seat rail and floor plate…

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On the front passenger-side of the FD2 is a massive hole cut-out where the exhaust will eventually make an exit…

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McDonalds Chicken Nuggets and Costco Pizza: the official food of car enthusiasts…

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The firewall of the Civic was also streamlined before it was re-sprayed…

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Front shock tower bar connected to the cowl area with a dimple die plate…

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Chris working on the steering shaft for the new column…

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Here is how the center-drive column looks with the spindle shaft in place…

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Aaron getting a feel for the new drive-position with the steering wheel connected and the MOMO seat mocked-up…

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Tommy eventually got to try it out as well to see how it felt…

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Here you can see how the floor-mounted pedals sit on the new floor plate…

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It’s nice to sit back and enjoy your labor of love sometimes…

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Back in the trailer and off to paint the interior and engine bay…

It wasn’t until a couple weeks later when I returned to see the latest updates on the car. By the time I made it back there, the engine was already back in the car…

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A rare glimpse at the bottom-side of the center-feed intake manifold…

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The Vibrant Performance oil catch can was all smiles…

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Radiator and front-mounted intercooler before they made their way back onto the car…

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The new roll cage with a fresh coat of white paint…

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The center-drive set-up now had the dash mocked-up along with the digital instrument display…

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K-Tuned 80mm throttle body mated to their intake manifold…

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K-Tuned shifter box now mounted to the left-side of the MOMO seat since Dai Yoshihara does his best work typically on the right-side of the vehicle…

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The gapping hole up front now looks a little bit more finished with the exhaust pipe running through it. The fender opening still needed some work…

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Eimer at his work table making more cool shit…

Some days later, Aaron hit me up to come by APEX’i to watch the car get dyno-tuned. Everything was pretty much where it needed to be, they just wanted to get a fresh tune on the car with the new turbo manifold and other goodies. They also needed to get the tune set-up so Dai could test the car out the next morning at Willow Springs Raceway…

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The dyno session didn’t take place until pretty late in the evening, I’d like to say around 11 PM or so…

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Chris talking to Nate, the tuner that evening, about some of the known quirks about the car that he had to know about before getting started…

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Nice shroud around the radiator and intercooler…

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The freshly-painted engine bay with K motor ready to rip…

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It’s pretty weird looking at the Civic straight on and seeing someone smack-dab in the middle…

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Aaron re-connecting something on the engine harness with a lighting assist by Der…

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Small digital display with everything you need right in front of you…

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After some pulls the side of the car was starting to look a little grungy…

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Aaron messing with the Dynapack program before the car’s next pull…

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At the end of the night, the engine made 510WHP and the guys were confident that the motor was primed and ready for the 2016 Super Lap Battle event…

Fast-forward to November at Buttonwillow the morning of SLB ’16…

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One of the coolest things about the event was that Spoon Sports president Tatsuru Ichishima actually flew out from Japan to attend…

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I missed the first session of the morning and arrived to see the FD2 cooling down from an unusually warm morning in California…

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The finished product of the fender-exit exhaust…

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Another new addition, or deletion, was a pair of carbon fiber headlight covers which replaces the factory Honda headlights to save weight…

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After experiencing some issues with clearance last year, they made sure to have plenty of room for turbo manifold this time around…

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Type One Motul service decals are highly sought after collector’s items for all Spoon nerds…

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The center-drive set-up looked like it belonged there after staring at it for some time…

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A look inside the Spoon Sports trailer where some tuning adjustments were being made via laptop…

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Dai Yoshihara chatting it up with some of the guys from Evasive Motorsports…

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Evasive Motorsports R35 GTR piloted by Mike Chang…

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Dai Yoshihara prepping for the next session…

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If this engine could talk, just imagine all the crazy stories it could tell…

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The rear half of the car is starting to show some age…

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Ichishima took a break from reading his book to watch the guys work on the car…

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As the sun set on day one, we all gathered to snap some photos of the car during golden hour…

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Ichishima joined in as well…

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Day 2 was an important day, as the record had already been reset by William from PZ Tuning. Dai remained ever-focused on the task at hand…

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Ichishima waited to see what Dai could do while decked out in his Spoon Sports jacket…

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The Honda that reset the Unlimited FF record was this FG2 coupe, which ran a blistering 1:43.365 hot lap, over two-seconds faster than the previous record…

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A incredibly well-engineered race car with tons of aero and a spectacular driver in William Au-Yeung…

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Dai in his Spoon Sports race suit and Hans device…

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One of my favorite photos from that day…Grit effect was added for my Instagram post so please excuse the noise…

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Yuta and Yasu hung out to watch Dai drive the center-drive FD2…

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Tatsuru Ichishima hanging-out trackside…

 

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All the inner-workings of the center-drive Civic…

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Aaron and Areen…

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While waiting for Dai to rip through the road course, I captured some of the other competitors who were out there that week…

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This Lamborghini Huracan was particularly interesting, not because there was a Lambo competing at Super Lap Battle, but because the driver was just 13 years-old, from what I was told. That’s insane…

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Andy Smedegard and the Gridlife Evolution looking good at SLB ’16…

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Mike Chang in the Evasive Motorsports R35 GTR…

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Fortune Auto Evo with tons of aero and custom ducting…

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Yoshihara and the FD2 in action. They ultimately did beat their own personal best time from last year, but were unable to top the 1:43 ran by PZ Tuning and their Civic…

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Still amazing to see and I think that the ceiling potential for this car, even after all these years, is still very high…

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These brand new Titan7 forged wheels are gonna be making some big waves in 2017, just wait and see…

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…and that is a wrap on this extensive look at the Spoon Sports Civic Type R from this year’s 2016 SLB event. Hope you guys enjoyed it. If there is any news on the car, I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated.

Thanks for looking and a huge thanks to Aaron and the Spoon Sports USA team for allowing me so much access into their world…

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