VTEC Club 2016 Season 4, Rd 1: Nightshift
It’s riskier, slower, less competitive and tougher to prepare for and endure... but there’s something about racing at night that’s just so good for the soul. Maybe it’s the excitement of being able to do at a racetrack what we always secretly fantasize about doing while driving twisty two-lanes at night. Maybe it’s the increased sense of speed a tarmac lit only by headlights gives. Or for us Californians, maybe it’s simply the only enjoyable time of day to be racing in the desert in the middle of summer.
Whatever their own personal inspirations, VTEC Club USA racers who took part in the organization’s latest time-attack track event at Willow Springs Raceway’s “Streets of Willow” circuit were able to welcome their second of two competition seasons for 2016 with a refreshing change of pace on a Saturday night.
What Is VTEC Club?
Inspired by the Japanese racing organization with a very similar name, but built by and for stateside Honda-powered track enthusiasts, VTEC Club USA is a time-attack competition series open to Honda-powered vehicles and drivers of almost any stage of modification and experience level. Operating within Extreme Speed Track Events, competition is arranged into four groups allowing for vehicle modifications from mild to wild (Group N2 to Group A, respectively). There are two competition “seasons” in each year, maximizing track time and allowing racers to reset the clock on championship runs more than once annually.
(To see how 2016’s first season ended just months ago, take a look at our Round 5 coverage from Buttonwillow.)
Many of the same drivers that dominated the previous season’s championship leaderboard returned to do so again (or at least, give it their best efforts), but as expected, several new projects and impressive new talent emerged this time around to earn their place among the aces. One such contender was Ryan Cubidez, who previously had another VTEC Club driver pilot his aggressive #205 black S2000 to strong finishes, but who himself took the wheel and clocked the fastest lap of the event in Group A competition: 1:24.178.
Following him were two VTEC Club usuals: Nik Romano with the S2000-powered Miata with a 1:24.184, and Alex Zhao, in the #113 S2000, with a 1:28.008.
Group A2 was led in this first event of the new season by – wait for it – Matt Rojana, in the #141 Ballade Sports S2000, with a 1:24.948, which happens to be a new A2/track record. That’s really becoming a familiar sentence now.
Not far off were Brandon Camacho in the #07 S2000 with a 1:26.509, and Amir Bentatou clocking a 1:26.784 in his awesome black NSX.
The biggest class of the event was again Group N, unsurprising because the rules allow for modification common to most quick, VTEC-powered street cars. Despite a good mix of both FF and RWD Hondas on the grid (and their fierce, yet friendly rivalry), RWD dominated the event, with Honda roadsters claiming the top five spots. Fastest among them: Clement Kwong with a 1:26.930 from his #28 car.
Season #1 champ Sean Mulyanto and his #73 car clocked a close 1:27.462, followed by Alan Jaquias in third with a 1:27.607 from his #53 fastback.
And then there’s Group N2: as close to an “anything goes” class as VTEC Club rules allow. All cars must still be Honda-powered, but not necessarily by VTEC engines, and they can be anything from quick B20B-powered Civics to that hand-me-down Odyssey minivan you might think isn’t lame (but still is). It’s also where a naturally-aspirated, SOHC-swapped DC2, built specially for the class by a tuner of some of LA’s most powerful GT-Rs, can win the event and set a new class/track record with a 1:29.772 (more on Kristian Wong and his #166 car soon).
Close enough behind him to make N2 the most competitive class of the event were Scott Dukeshire in the #142 Civic with a 1:30.160, and Robert Choo, wringing a 1:30.430 from his #44 Civic with what was rumored to be a dying engine.
Four More To Go:
With four more events still on the schedule for the second season in 2016, you’ve got four more chances to try your best to whoop up on the competition in any of four classes and collect season points for the ultimate win... Or just enjoy some BBQ and Dippin’ Dots in the pits with fellow Honda heads and hit the track for those parade laps; it's your call. Visit vtecclubusa.com for the 2016 Season 4 schedule.
Browse the gallery below for more Streets of Willow, and catch up on the best shots of Season 3, Round 5 at Buttonwillow Raceway Park.