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Bigger and Better: VTEC Club 2018 Round 1 and Season Preview

They say the only constant in life is change, and if you’re one of the ever-creative and speed-hungry minds who organize or participate in VTEC Club USA competition, that’s a great thing—2018 looks on paper (and so far, in practice) to be their best year, yet.

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs red EK Civic hatch

Change Is in the Air

First, there will be fewer events crammed into 2018 than in past years. It's a bummer if you’ve got a ton of expendable income, a rock-solid track car and nothing really to do but go to the track. For the rest of us who build, tune or repair our cars in the precious little downtime that exists between breaking them at the track and working to pay for it all, well…we appreciate all the time we can get.  

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs silver-gold EK Honda Civic coupe trakrat

For 2018, VTEC Club front-man Duane Bada and company will be hosting just six events spread across the year, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the competition won’t be as varied or competitive as ever. It will be. Each one of those six rounds will be held on a different track or configuration, and each will feature a different favorite theme from years past.

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs Honda B-series engine bay headers Spoon airbox

This first event, held at Willow Springs’ Streets of Willow circuit in the traditional clockwise configuration, was meant to be an easy, “welcome home” round on a familiar course, but Southern California’s winter weather (yes, we do occasionally get some of that) threw a wrench into the mix with alternating rain, sun and strong winds, keeping drivers on their toes.

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs 9th gen red Honda Civic with anime livery sedan racing in the rain

Looking Back, Seeing Ahead

Next up, on April 29, VTEC Club will journey east to Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, equidistant from Nevada, Arizona and Mexico for their unofficial Southwest Reunion stage, complete with camping and a little debauchery.

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs silver gray Acura TSX

After that will be the NorCal vs SoCal battle at Buttonwillow. NorCal crews did an impressive amount of cleaning up at last year’s event, but to SoCal’s credit, many of the southern region’s top drivers were stuck building/repairing their cars and thus were unable to attend. This year we’ll be hoping for more even odds, and even more battling.

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs Buttonwillow Honda S2000 rears pre-grid

Celebrating summer's warm nights will be the Twilight Event back at Streets of Willow (in counter-clockwise configuration), followed by the penultimate event in November, the Autumn Speed Festival at Willow Springs’ Big Willow course.

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs Acura TSX sunset pit lane

Closing out the year and hopefully smashing some records in traditional California time-attack fashion will be yet another VTEC Club Grand Finale at Buttonwillow Raceway, in the Clockwise-13 configuration.

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs white Honda Civic sedan anime livery

But Wait! There's More...

Last but not least, while Duane hasn’t announced just yet when it will happen, we hear there will be one or more reincarnations of the sometimes-imitated, never-duplicated Touge Stage competition from last year, happening in tandem with select events throughout the season.  

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs Touge Stage white Honda CRX with vinyl livery

Who to Watch Out For

Two of VTEC Club’s fastest competitors are two we haven’t seen in their personal cars in more than a year: Matt Rojana and his now K24-swapped red Honda S2000, and co-founder/co-organizer Amir Bentatou and his soon-to-be turbo K24-swapped Acura NSX.

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs Matt Rojana Ballade Sports red Honda S2000 K24

The Chuckwalla round by all rights belongs to SEMA GT-award winner Phil Robles and his wildly modified EG Honda Civic from Arizona, and when it comes to the NorCal vs. SoCal battle, Gary Yeung and his yellow S2000 were fastest in the event. We're really looking forward to seeing how ace wheelman Tim Crane and his newly K-swapped silver EK hatch fare against SoCal's best. 

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs Chuckwalla Philip Robles black flared EG6 Honda Civic hatch

As for current aces at this rainy first round, Matt Rojana took the win in Group A competition (behind the wheel of a borrowed Ballade Sports S2000) with the fastest lap of the day: 1:25.115. John Cruz claimed the top of the Group A2 pack with a blazing 1:26.527 in his mild-mannered EG Honda Civic CX.

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs Matt Rojana Ballade Sports yellow Honda S2000 rear

Martin Le and his silver S2000 topped Group N competition with a 1:25.680, Robert Blanton won Group N1 with a 1:29.195 in his EF Honda Civic (who I somehow don’t have a single photo of—sorry, Bobby!) and Alan “AJ” Jaquias laid down a solid 1:29.332 to take the N2 title in a borrowed non-VTEC DC2 Integra.

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs silver Honda S2000 time attack race car

With all four of these class winners clocking in the 1:20s around a mostly wet Streets of Willow circuit, we’d bet heavily on them to continue to deliver wins or serious challenges to VTEC Club competition all year, rain or shine.

VTEC Club USA rd. 1 Streets of Willow Springs black EK Honda Civic hatchback racing in the rain rear shot

Get off the Bench!

View our gallery below for more from VTEC Club’s first competition round of 2018, and to get involved with future bouts, head over to www.vtecclubusa.com  

2018 VTEC Club USA season schedule

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