Posted by John Morimoto
As we gathered in our little group, we were all amazed at what we had just witnessed! We were surprised to see an import car race a domestic car, but most of all we were asking ourselves hypothetical questions. One of the guys was wondering if what we had witnessed was going to get bigger? Another stated people are going to get seriously hurt or killed! I remember saying this could be the newest breed of Hot Rods! All in all, we were all shocked at what had just occurred. These questions and comments we were asking ourselves eventually came true and most of my friends and I were there to witness this.
I remember going home that night thinking about what I could do to make my car go faster. By the time we had finished talking at the fast food restaurant, driving home, talked another hour with my buddy who lived nearby, it was close to 6AM. I couldn’t sleep that morning, and the first thing I wanted to do was talk to Steve about how I could make my car go as fast as that Prelude! So I waited and waited anxiously until around 8AM, and I went outside to wait for Steve’s garage light to go on. Yes it may seem like I was stalking him, but I had to know what I needed to do to go faster! Eventually I saw the light go on and his garage door open, and I ran over as quickly as I could!
I spent the whole day listening to Steve’s advice on what I should do to make my car go faster. The only thing is Steve wasn’t too familiar with 4 cylinder motors and only knew what we had gone through with my car. His whole life, he had dedicated his passion to V8 muscle cars that is totally different to the 4 cylinder fuel injected questions I was asking. His thoughts were to piece things together. I had told him about the nitrous system the guy in the Prelude had and he thought that was a good idea but he wanted to make sure my motor was able to withstand the instant power. He wanted to focus on such as enhancing the fuel, air, and electrical input/output on the car to keep up with the nitrous. So other than the exhaust system we had custom made, he and I added a Crane ignition system with an external coil he had lying around in his garage. For the fuel side, Steve had an old fuel pressure regulator that he played around with and was able to customize it with fittings to fit the fuel line. Keep in mind we didn’t have the internet to Google how to question’s. Steve was totally doing this in the dark, and I totally appreciated his efforts. Yes many of the things we attempted didn’t work, but for the most part, a lot of the things he thought we should do and were able to add horsepower are being utilized by tuners, shops, and race teams today! Many companies eventually jumped on the bandwagon and created many of the parts Steve was able to custom fit as production pieces. What was frustrating was at the time, I would constantly reach out to performance companies for years to see if they had any plans on producing more parts for 4 cylinder cars and I could honestly remember word for word that they would never produce parts for import cars, or would hear just plain laughter after asking them. Today, these companies have produced mass amounts of parts for import cars and some of the engineers that worked for these companies have left to start a new company producing parts solely for import cars.
The other thing Steve was teaching me was the drag racing aspect of what I saw the previous night on the street. This was something he was very familiar with having done both street and track racing. He taught me to how launch the car as well as understanding traction, flaggers, and other aspects of drag racing. My true passion for driving has always been road courses, but witnessing these imports going toe to toe with cars with double or sometimes triple the amount of horsepower than the cars my friends and I drove instantly drew an attraction.
Steve had mentioned to me he had not gone to a street race in years and I had asked if he wanted to go see if they were going to be out that night. It was a Saturday night, and I had not slept the previous night at all, but I was so excited to go out again and see more head to head racing! We met up with the same friends from the previous night and ventured out to the same spot in the Valley. It’s funny how at the time there were no cell phones/texting, email, or social networks to spread the word, but by the time we got there at 11:30PM, there was double the amount of cars and people! Not only was Steve surprised by the turnout, but I was even more surprised from having seen half the amount the previous night. About 15 minutes in to the night, I heard 2 cars venture out to one end of the block, a Honda Civic EF and a Nissan 200SX: The first head to head import race I had witnessed.