The '04 Dodge Viper SRT-10 coupe. Powered by an 8.3L V-10 mated to a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox, this American supercar delivered 510 bhp and was capable of low 12-second quarter-mile times from the showroom. If you saw one on the road, chances are you were driving something slower...unless you were driving its chief rival, the Z06 Corvette. With an optional 405 bhp 5.7L V-8, and a lighter chassis, the Z06 offered nearly identical performance to the Viper, and did it for about $40,000 less. Low 12-second quarter-mile times? Check. Sub 4-second 0-60s? Check. Able to hold 1.0g on the skidpad? Without a squeal.
Now imagine the look on either car owner's face as their high-dollar muscle car gets hung out to dry by a naturally aspirated Honda Civic. It's a look Tage Evanson knows all to well. His '95 Civic laps Phoenix International Raceway in 1:06-4 seconds faster than any stock Viper or Corvette has ever completed the circuit. To put this in terms we can all understand, 400whp EVO VIIIs will lay down 1:09s at PIR on a good day; and race-prepped 350Zs, a solid 1:12. As a Limited FF-Class competitor of our Super Lap Battle at Buttonwillow last year, Tage and the Civic not only beat every other car in the class, but ran faster than the best times of five EVOs, three STIs, four S15 Silvias, a Supra, and a Porsche GT2-in every class. Oh, and Tage's Civic runs 11s in the quarter. Viper and Corvette owners: Find a shoulder to cry on.
What: 15x8 949 Racing wheels
Why: Increased diameter allows the use of larger rotors for better braking; and smaller sidewall tires for improved handling, but the relatively small 15-inch diameter still keeps rotational mass to a minimum. Increased width allows for wider tires and better grip.
What: 245/45-15 Nitto NT01 tires
Why: Wider, R-compound tires increase traction, improving handling, acceleration, and braking. Tage's NT01s have survived 12 full races and are still going strong; finding a balance between grip and long life is key for the privateer.
What: Custom Fastbrakes setup, consisting of: two-piece 11.8-inch front and one-piece 11.4-inch rear rotors, pads, aluminum calipers, and stainless steel lines
Why: Increasing braking surface area improves stopping power, but can also increase corner weight if not done properly-adding rotational mass and suspension workload. The Fastbrakes setup Tage employs increases rotor and pad surface area, to promote cooling, and weighs 8 pounds less per corner than stock. Stainless lines keep pedal pressure firm, even under extended hard braking.
What: B18C1 block with Golden Eagle 85mm sleeves, Endyn 12.5:1 pistons, Eagle rods, 89mm B18B crank; B18C5 head with Endyn machining, valvetrain and cams
Why: While naturally aspirated engines don't kick out the big numbers that forcibly induced ones do, they have the advantage of a linear, predictable powerband and instant throttle response-important when throttle modulation means the difference between holding a turn and sliding out of one. Tage's Civic makes enough power to pull on C5 Z06s exiting T9 at Willow Springs and down the entire half-mile straight-he doesn't see the need to trade throttle response for more power.
What: Fluidyne radiator and OEM Integra GSR oil cooler
Why: High-revving track cars generate a lot of heat during use. Radiating it away from the stock one did-and since the OE oil cooler uses engine coolant to cool oil, oil temperatures dropped as well.
What: Cold-air intake, 4:1 header, and 2.5-inch exhaust
Why: Better engine aspiration equals more power. The intake draws cold, dense air from outside the hot engine compartment, and the 4:1 header allows spent gasses to exit the head in a hurry. Tage's custom exhaust uses one resonator, dumps under the car, and does little else than comply with mandates-this puppy is loud!
What: Kaaz limited-slip differential, custom gearing and Final Drive ratio
Why: Many stock differentials only transfer power to the drive wheel with least resistance. To maintain acceleration around a hard corner, power has to be put to the outside wheel-the one with most resistance. Tage's clutch-type Kaaz LSD keeps power to the outside wheel, even if the inside wheel is airborne. Ultra-close gearing consisting of a GSR Second gear, ITR Third and Fourth gear, super-secret custom Fifth gear, and JDM 4.785 Final Drive ensure every shift drops revs into a useable part of the B18C's powerband.
What: Front lip splitter and rear wing
Why: Correctly managed airflow at high speeds could put more cornering ability into your ride. Mismanaged airflow could send it into a wall. Tage's rear wing looks kind of funny, but at 90 mph it provides enough downforce for the Civic to handle like a 50/50 weighted, F/R roadster. Front splitters limit the amount of air flowing underneath the car, which decreases lift-allowing for more overall grip. Tage's wooden homemade front "splinter" costs $15 in parts from Home Depot, and about 2 hours of his time to build. He advises you make your own until you learn the limits of your car/track, then spend your hard earned cash on a good one.
What: Sparco Corsa seat, Simpson six-point cam lock harness
Why: They're lightweight, FIA and SFI-certified solutions for keeping the driver firmly planted during hard cornering and braking and are safe for the occasional jaunt off-track. A comfortable seat goes a long way toward allowing the driver to focus on driving.
What: Fire extinguisher
Why: To put out fires-something race cars have a propensity to develop when pushed hard. They are required for competition by nearly every sanctioning body.
What: Kirk four-point rollcage
Why: Properly built cages protect drivers in the event of a rollover, comply with racing sanctions, and further stiffen a car's chassis. This cage added about 60 pounds to the weight of the car, but the improvements it brought to chassis rigidity offset its added bulk, Tage told us.
What: Weight reduction
Why: Tage went so far as to replace the stock dash with a lightweight aluminum unit and gutted the doors of everything except brackets that hold the factory glass when rules require it be retained. About 300 pounds of deadweight have been removed from the car-and mostly from the interior; Tage's Seibon carbon-fiber hood is the only lightweight body panel added so far.
What: Sparco steering wheel, Auto Meter gauges, Razo racing pedals
Why: Airbag deployments can actually be fatal to drivers wearing helmets; many sanctioning bodies require they be disabled. Racing steering wheels eliminate the deadweight and provide more positive steering feel. Quality aftermarket gauges provide far more accurate readings of engine vitals than OE equipment, and the pedals allow for better grip and easier throttle modulation while braking.
Why: Delivers extra oil to the engine on command, providing oil pressure at start-up and maintaining pressure under hard cornering load at high rpm, when the baffled oil pan and OE pump just can't cut it.
What: Ground Control coilovers, 800 lb/in front, 900 lb/in rear
Why: Stiffer springs limit body roll and subsequent weight transfer opposite the direction of acceleration. Ride height adjustability allows a vehicle's center of gravity to be lowered and fine-tuned. 800 lb/in fronts keep the car from bottoming out, while stiffer, 900 lb/in rears eliminate understeer.
What: Koni SPSS-valved, rebound-adjustable shocks
Why: Springs require dampening to tame oscillation. The stiffer the spring, the more aggressive the dampening needs to be. Custom SPSS valving is designed to handle spring rates of up to 1,000 lb/in.
What: Sway bars (not pictured): OEM Integra GSR front, 22mm Comptech rear
Why: Sway bars limit the independent suspension travel of wheels sharing a common axis; thus taming body roll. The OE GSR sway bar is a great piece for race-prepped Civics, but the added girth of Comptech's rear sway bar was needed to help the car's rear end rotate on command.
What: Camber-adjustable T1R upper control arms, and custom rear camber adjustment
Why: Wheels oriented perpendicularly to the driving surface provide maximum traction. Under cornering load, the orientation of a wheel to the driving surface changes, and camber adjustment is necessary to bring the relationship back to ideal. Tage runs anywhere from 21/2 degrees to 3 degrees negative camber up front, and 11/2 degrees to 2 degrees in the rear of his Civic, depending on how tight the track is, and adds slight toe-out to the rear wheels, depending on how much rotation is needed.
What: Owner/driver/builder/fabricator/investorWhy: Tage would be that last to admit it, but the sole reason behind his Civic's success over the years is that he's been behind, in front of, or underneath it every step of the way. No one could ever drive it or wrench on it better than he. The hard fact of any challenging endeavor is: Things go wrong far more often than they go right. Unless you approach building a car with steadfast dedication and a genuine willingness to learn from your mistakes-to find your way in the work-all the mods in the world won't make much difference.
Words: "New racers: Be patient, and learn everything about what you're doing. Wrench on your own car, or stay closely involved with its build. Get involved with groups like the NASA and SCCA to learn how to drive properly on a racetrack-I promise you, there's a lot you don't know. It's not enough to build a fast car; the car and driver must both be in tune in order to create a winning package."
Transmission by Tage
6261 Katella Ave., Dept. MMFF