[BGKP Civic] The Decision: Building The Honda Civic To ChampCar Spec And Starting Our Race Team

In the last article I introduced our free Honda Civic and explained how we got it to our first track day. Now I’ll explain how that Civic sparked something more in all of us, and led to the formation of the BGKP race team.

(Note: if you don’t like to read and just want to look at pictures while you procrastinate, then feel free to scroll down to the bottom of the page to check out the gallery)

At this point it only seems right to discuss how I met Hassan (the guy from the video of when we first started the Civic). We were introduced by a mutual colleague of our’s to tag team some data collection early in 2016. Once the awkward silence and small talk had passed, Hassan and I began to realize we had a lot in common. We started at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles within a month of one another, we both up and left our home states and family (Hassan California, myself Pennsylvania), and both had a burning passion for cars. With that passion a friendship was built.

Hassan In Civic's First Start Video

We went on to discuss a variety of different topics that were in some way related to our commonalities, including what cars we’ve owned, what kind of projects we worked on in the past, and what some of our future plans were now that we both had more capital to play with. The one goal we had in common was to go racing in some form.

At this point, I had already experienced autocross and was quick to praise the sport. Hassan had more research up his sleeve and brought forth a few leagues I never heard of, such as F1000 and 24 Hours of LeMons. Eventually the conversation switched tracks, and we continued on with our work.

Fast forward to September that year. We just got back from a great time at our first open track day at Waterford Hills Racing Track when we decided to revisit the idea of racing. Our two main considerations at the time were single-speed karts and amateur endurance racing.

The karts were small, easy to work on, easy to transport, required less capital, provided the opportunity to race indoors, and arguably offered a better scenario for driver improvement. A no brainer so far, right? However, there were limitations, such as a limited number of kart-friendly track days, shorter stints/heats, and a lack in overall popularity in our area.

Amateur endurance racing was almost the exact opposite. Typically speaking, cars are more complex than karts since they are designed with government compliance and consumer comfort in mind. Therefore, cars have many more systems onboard, such as fuel vapor capturing systems, climate control and power steering. Cars also require more safety preparation, and working on them requires more tools and resources compared to maintaining a kart.

In addition to the heftier maintenance bills, the capital required to transport a full race car is far more than a kart. You must maintain a reliable tow rig, entrance fees are higher, and gas consumption is far greater for both transport and racing. On the flip side, there’s longer stints for each driver, a large racing community, and the opportunity to race on some of the most iconic tracks in the United States.

We decided that endurance racing, specifically ChumpCar at the time, was what we wanted to do. We soon realized, however, that the two of us couldn’t manage an endurance team on our own. At this point we had already planted the seeds in the minds of a few colleagues, and so we hoped a few of them would take us up on the offer. We were fortunately able to recruit two colleagues, Gabe and Tony, to join the team. Gabe became a fellow garage monkey, while Tony brought forth his tow rig and racing experience, and financial support

It was early 2017, a year since this all went into motion, and the new goal was to enter the 8-hour race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in April of that year. At that point the Civic went under the knife, and emerged as a full-blown racecar. Tune in next week to hear about the Civics’s journey to Mid-Ohio, and as always, stay tuned.


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