“Your machine is amazing, intimidating and spectacular. Not really beautiful, except in a unique creation kind of way…” These were the words chosen to describe Cody Loveland’s insane creation, from the mouth of none other than Randy Pobst, racing driver and childhood hero to Cody. Having had the pleasure of recently meeting Randy at Mid-Ohio I can assure you a kinder person, and hence description of this NSX, doesn’t exist.
It’s been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but in some cases I think, at least in physical form, beauty simply cannot exist. In the case of this NSX I am quite certain that there is something beautiful about it, but I’m not so certain it can be found anywhere in its outward appearance.
The beauty in this machine lies in the way it works and the reason it exists. It’s a no-nonsense build which has been narrowly focused on one target – setting the fastest possible time up Pikes Peak. It’s a project which has gone from a simple concept dreamed up by Cody and his friend Matthew Noble Marker in a hot tub, to a monster charging up the most well-known hill in Colorado in just over one year.
“We were dreaming up ways to race the NSX in an environment that wouldn’t totally destroy the car (such as rally), while still being different from traditional road racing” Cody tells me. “Simultaneously, we both spit out ‘Pikes Peak!’, and the preparations began. I dissected the rulebook and found that it wasn’t extremely difficult to build the car.” With an NSX, an understanding of the rules and a lot of will power, Cody set off to build something spectacular.
While the most glaring feature of the car is unquestionably the outrageous bodywork, the majority of what makes the car tick is lying beneath the carbon fiber cloak. In order to properly use all of the downforce on offer, Cody first fabricated the chassis mounted brackets capable of accepting the aero load and transferring it directly to the car.
With the basic framework taken care of in-house at LoveFab, the team at DHP Composites then got to work designing a complicated package which could be installed onto the frame. While precise might not be the word I’d use to describe the resulting aerodynamics, effective is absolutely accurate.
Virtually the entire original body of the car has been removed and replaced with carbon. As I can think of no better way to describe the final look of the car I’ll have to agree with Randy, it’s certainly intimidating. Not surprisingly all of the recently added downforce had a very noticeable effect on the cars handling which posed a few problems.
For starters, the rear was creating so much grip that the front wheels were having a very difficult time finding traction. In order to combat this, the massive front canards were added just before PPIHC. The second problem was that the aero load was so extreme at speed that the car was literally being shoved onto the pavement, and subsequently, the shock absorber’s bump stops.
While upping the spring rates would solve the problem it higher speeds, it would also kill any low-speed mechanical grip, and considering that the PPIHC course consists of many tight hairpins this simply wasn’t an option. Instead a more complicated solution was needed and Cody decided to combat the problem by using a third-element damper, like those you may have seen installed on the likes of F1 and Indy cars.
In a very overly simplified nutshell, there are linkages attached to the center shock which require both of the traditional shocks on the axle to be compressed before the third shock/spring comes into play. Thus when a load is only applied to one side, say in a corner, the shocks act independently. When both shocks are compressed simultaneously the linkages going to the third shock are activated creating a higher overall spring rate, thus you can think of it as a very complicated progressive spring.
Fortunately the interior is considerably more simple. When I say that there’s nothing inside the cockpit I really mean it. I’ve said it before, but this time it can be taken literally. In fact I’m not sure there is a single component from the factory left inside the car at all. Not a single panel, button, switch or clip – it’s all gone.
Instead you’ve got a bunch of metal, a few bits of carbon fiber, some cloth and the occasional electrical component. Keeping weight to a bare minimum, Cody decided to make his own dash and center consoles out of nothing more than a flat sheet of carbon. Hung in front of the Recaro driver’s seat is a steering wheel, a STACK dash and a set of pedals.
One of those pedals controls an adjustable dual-master cylinder which determines how much fluid is sent to the Stoptech brakes. I’m told that the bias is currently set to 100% rear as the car has so much rear grip that anything less causes the fronts to lock up almost instantly. Incredible.
So this is the car that was constructed in roughly seven months, beginning with the initial tear-down back in December. But like any car this ambitious, the adventure wasn’t without mishaps and had the event not been postponed you likely wouldn’t be reading this story until next year.
During initial testing back in June the car spun a rod bearing, the result of a faulty dry-sump setup. With the event being cancelled and rescheduled for August, Cody had some time to build a spare engine and get the car back into shape. Learning from that expensive mistake, this time around the car is running a tried-and-true wet oil pan with an Accusump for reserve.
But that was just one of many issues along the way. There was also a mix up with the car’s original wheel sponsor and Cody was only sent four of his eight ordered wheels, and each of which turned out to be the wrong size. Luckly HRE, who have a long history supporting PPIHC cars, decided to step in and help out a racer in dire need and equipped the car with a brand new wheel – the C96S.
And so with a new engine, new aero and some new rollers the team was off to Colorado to see what they could do. Unfortunately for the team the week would begin with a dose of bad luck that the mountain has become infamous for dishing out. It would begin with some minor yet common fuel delivery gremlins and then crescendo into a scary shunt during Thursday’s practice session.
The team was shaken but they weren’t about to give up. “The car was destroyed and we rebuilt it within twelve hours and had the car ready to race again for Friday morning’s practice. While pulling up the the grid, many teams turned around from their rigorous car preparations and gave us standing ovations for getting the car done and ready to run without hardly a trace of an accident, and on forty-eight hours of no sleep.”
With a new goal of just finishing without destroying the car, the NSX was driven up the course at what Cody would estimate was about half pace. Due to the misfortunes of others, slow and steady ended up very nearly winning the race. The rookie team had managed second in the Unlimited class, a bittersweet result in the honor of friend and co-conspirator Matthew Noble Marker, who passed away at last year’s Olympia Rally.
But it wasn’t all tears as Cody had a very special surprise in store for his co-driver Tabitha. “I had it arranged with the Pikes Peak Committee to call me up for an award, because we certainly did not plan on receiving one, and I was to propose then. I guess the laugh is on us, we received a second place trophy and I got the job done in front of our peers. It was a moment I wanted to share with everyone there, as they all saw the hardships we went through over the course of the week.”
If you’ll pardon the pun, I’d say that these guys really put some love into the event. After speaking on the phone with Cody, who returned home to Michigan only hours ago, I could tell from his excitement that the two will definitely be returning to the mountain. And so on that day I guess you could say that two lifelong commitments were made: one to each other, and one to the mountain.
1991 Acura NSX
Turbocharged 3.0L C30A V6; LoveFab LF1200 engine preparation (includes turbo manifold, y-pipe, intercooler, exhaust); CP 9:1 pistons; Carrillo rods; quadruple radiator setup; Garrett GTX4294R Turbocharger; TiAL wastegate and blow-off valve; RC 1200CC injectors; external fuel surge tank; Bosch 044 primary fuel pump (to surge); Aeromotive secondary fuel pump (to engine); Accusump
ENGINE MANAGEMENT / ELECTRONICS
AEM EMS and sensors; STACK ST8130 dash
Factory 6-speed transaxle; OS Giken LSD; Exedy twin-plate clutch
SUSPENSION / CHASSIS
LoveFab third-element push rod suspension design utilizing Afco racing 2-way adjustable shocks w/ 550lb springs; KW Variant 3 coilovers w/ custom spring rates; roll cage; front and rear tube frame
Stoptech calipers and 2-piece rotors (f/r); Hawk HT-10 pads; floor-mounted pedals w/ dual-masters and adjustable balance bar
WHEELS / TIRES
HRE C96S LoveFab Pikes Peak Edition 18X13″, and 18X11″ wheels; 280/650/18 front Toyo Proxes RS1, hand grooved 335/710/18 rear Toyo Proxes RS1, hand grooved
Recaro seats; custom carbon console; Pyrotect safety gear
DHP Composites full carbon fiber body w/ Pikes Peak wing package
2500lbs wet; 675WHP @ 22psi at 7000ft elevation on Revolution’s Dyno
Yukio and Keith from Garrett, Adam and Jeremy Jabaay, Jake Kaminiskis, Brian Vinson and the entire Pikes Peak Acura crew for the AMAZING facility and hospitality, Rhett, Savannah, and Valentin from Fingers Crossed Racing, and Adam and the crew from Revolutions Performance for helping us out so much this week. We would NOT have made the finish line without them. Truly an amazing group of racers!
Good GOD Linhbergh Nguyen!!! I missed you on this site man! Your photos are in a different plane of awesomeness altogether! They're so awesome that I'd "go blind due to over-exposure to pure awesomeness" and then will have to have to hire a guy like Jesus so he can make a miracle so that I can see again and gaze in admiration of your photography! Really inspirational and hope that one day I'd be able to get as good as you are! All hale Linhbergh, all hale Linhberg!! :D
@ First picture... I think the "David comes home from the dentist" video can describe this picture the best: "IS THIS REAL LIFE?!?!?!?!?!?!" Absolutely stunning work.
Great story, and fantastic photography. Look forward to seeing them develop the car some more for next year.
l couldn;t stop thinking about those wheels on a S13, just beautiful looking wheels and tires, not to mention the whole car of course
I'm sorry but this is a very costly and complicated design for such a slow result. Just to compare take Cody Loveland's time of 11:39.766 on a completely paved surface with slicks and crazy pitch sensitive aero vs. Clint Vahsholtz 2002 Ford Mustang time of 11:39.662 back in 2009 on a mixed tarmac and gravel surface and no crazy ass wing. Granted Vahsholtz has way more experience and is probably one of the best drivers on the mountain but I can help but think this car is flawed and will never approach the times that a unlimited should without major changes.
Check out Clint Vahsholtz mustang here.
I couldn't believe it when I saw this car was from Michigan. That's awesome they did good too, I was wondering how the managed. And speaking of Michigan, no one is doing the Dream Cruise?
Linhbergh where have you been all year? We, (or at least I) have missed your work. We hope to see more soon.
Damn this is sick! Some serious work and ton of money all for one goal: to win the pikes peak climb!
Love it. Subcribing on facebook.
Considering that huge front end i am mega surpriced it still was unbalanced. big guides (plexiglass?) to prevent air from going of the hood?
The higher the rear wing the more you lift the front. Same if its far back. sculping a "flip" and so on. On the main body at the back should perhaps have been done first. Diffusers work under and closer to center of the rear wheels so no leverage there. Unless the diffuser is going far behind the rear wheels.Still need more df? then add rear wing as needed.
And when it comes to looks. i find it to be very cool looking. Beauty in functions.
"I’m told that the bias is currently set to 100% rear as the car has so much rear grip that anything less causes the fronts to lock up almost instantly."
I think this car will massively benefit from some development ;)
I wonder what a version 2 would look like if they had the funds? Awesome car and so cool to see them triumph with a good finish at the end! Congrats!
This is what happens when an NSX wants to be a Group B hill climb car and then takes acid. I love this car.
Fantastic photography, Sean. Car is amazing as well, clearly a lot of time and effort put into it. Beautiful in it's own Frankenstein way.
Sure the engineering is impressive and its quick, no doubts there but I feel like something has been lost from the original car on the way. Not knocking it at all, still mighty impressed just slightly sad
@Nikhil_P Well, the engine is ;)
@roey I'll be updating everyone of my where abouts the last few months soon! :)
@MatsNorway The front end that's on the car now is a version 2 which was created to counterbalance the rear wing. Originally the front was much smaller. I'm sure with time it will only get better.
@Fede I think it needs a real engineer...
@Fede Certainly, I'm sure in the off season there will be many improvements. I think just getting the car to the mountain was a huge success for the team this year.
@LS1RX7_owen We received about $2,000 monetary sponsorship help. Thats the truth. It was all out of pocket, sponsored, credit cards, whatever we could do to get the parts we needed. Cody fabricated the entire build, designed the turbo setup, all the tuning, Im very proud of him. We would one day hope to have funds to help us expand & better our current build, but we do not expect that anytime soon. -Tabitha LohrCoDriver
@bradjh Again the beautiful photos are courtesy of Linhbergh, but I'm sure he'll appreciate it.
@Hotcakes Thanks you, but these were shot by Linhbergh, so all credit on the photos goes to him!
It was slow for an unlimited before any incident at practice. A home built open wheel car will still hand this thing its ass.
@sean klingelhoefer yupp glad i found them on FB.
Group 5 car with them.. strakes im talking about on the hood, to contain the air.
Rules mostly prevent this on modern race cars.
@manekineko @Fede Why put the team/owner down? Motorsports is about having fun, and I'm sure despite all the setbacks, that thing was a joy to drive. No disrespect intended, but I'm sure you haven't accomplished anything near this scale, so please don't hate. I'm sure he knows a lot about the car and tuning, but maybe he just hasn't had the time. Maybe it was just some bizarre fun project to take on. If you were given the opportunity to build something crazy like this, I'm sure you would.
I miss your photos man ! @LinhberghNguyen
@sean klingelhoefer The time was because we were being safe. After the practice days being hectic, and possibly rain at the summit, we were driving much slower than we could've. We did not turn the power up as high as it could've gone. We did not push this car to the limits, because yes, we are Rookies to the mountain. The car was not mechanically permanently affected by the accident. Thank You everyone for your support.-Tabitha LohrCoDriver.
I'd say with a fair amount of certainty that the pace is largely the fault of the driver, not the machine. I'd imagine the car is capable of one minute faster with an experienced driver that knows the course alone.
Thanks to speedhunters i also see now that it has the strakes/guides even on the windshield area.
@CrisCiunganu I have seen other more detailed pics of this car and my thought is that this guy is a good fabricator but lacks the engineering skill to take on project of this caliber. btw i am not hating, I ve learned not to hate long time ago.
@CrisCiunganu every car enjoys some development..I'm yet to see a car that is designed absolutely spot on :) My comment wasn't meant to criticize the car or the owner, I just wanted to point that out...plus you'll agree you don't see a 0/100 brake bias everyday! ;)