Welcome To The VTEC Club
Keeping It Real

Given that I spend a good amount of my time photographing and writing about car culture, you might imagine it’s easy for someone like me to become jaded about automobiles. And you’d probably be right.

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During our adventures as Speedhunters, the job often calls for us to report on some of the coolest and most exotic machines on the face of the planet. We routinely spend a lot of time around cars with incredible levels of engineering and horsepower, incredible rarity and/or incredible amounts of money invested.

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It’s natural to think we’ve become so used to these high-end builds that the cars with modest amounts of power and built on modest budgets become boring or uninteresting. But I can tell you, that most certainly is not the case.

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I think I speak for most of us Speedhunters when I say that we dig the realistic, low-budget cars as much as the supercars and the professional race cars. If anything, I’m jaded in the opposite way.

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All the time spent around the crazy machines and high-profile builders only makes me appreciate the simple, grassroots stuff that much more. Because, even though we are fortunate enough to shoot and write about some of the world’s wildest cars, at the end of the day we’re just simple gearheads, and we get inspired by stuff the same way any other enthusiast does.

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That’s why Saturday’s VTEC Club USA event at Buttonwillow Raceway will go down as one of the most rewarding and refreshing events I’ve covered this year.

As the name suggests, VTEC Club is a time trial series dedicated to Hondas, one that has been increasing in popularity since it was started up in Southern California a couple years ago.

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After talking to the event organizers and some of my friends who participate in the series, I’d been meaning to cover a VTEC Club event for some time, and on Saturday I was finally able to make it happen.

The Spirit Of Honda
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While the sport compact and tuner scene in the United States has changed dramatically since its beginnings in the mid 1990s, Hondas are still the weapon of choice for many.

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You may not see as many body kit-wearing, ’90s-era Hondas on the street anymore, but these cars are still immensely popular among track junkies. And VTEC Club is where you’ll find many of them.

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Given the vast and affordable parts availability, the plentiful supply of base cars and that fabulous Honda engineering, it’s not surprising that so many people still go down the Honda route when building a track car.

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While it’s only open to Hondas, the vehicles at a VTEC Club event are actually quite varied. Civics are the most common entry, but even that group has a large spectrum of build styles and budgets.

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Some of the guys run vintage EF model, often with single overhead cam engines for maximum fun on a minimum budget. Stay tuned for a spotlight on one of these SOHC warriors that I found especially interesting.

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There are also newer Civics, like this Si sedan that’s been converted to full JDM FD2 Type R spec running reverse staggered RAYS wheels.

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Other entries combine the best of both worlds, like this EK Civic hatchback which was rocking a K-series swap.

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It’s strange to think that K-series engines have been around for over 15 years now, but it’s cool that so many of these motors are finding new homes in Hondas from the ’80s and ’90s.

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This Integra sedan from the LoiSpec Garage crew was also sporting K-power beneath its hood, and was clean enough that it could do double-duty as a show car.

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Don’t think it was all front-wheel drive cars though; S2000s are a big part of VTEC Club as well. Even with a stock motor, an AP1 or AP2 can be an incredibly quick hot-lapping weapon.

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It’s interesting because just as secondhand S2000s got cheap enough that you could buy one to build a track car out of, the prices have started shooting back up. It’ll be fascinating to see what happens to the values of these cars in the coming years and what it means for the racing community.

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Adding even more flavor to the Honda bunch was this Spoon Sports-themed CR-Z. It’s unfortunate that Honda pulled the plug on this idea, because the CR-Z feels like it’d be a perfect home for the company’s new 1.5-liter turbo engine.

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Accords from the late 1990s and early 2000s aren’t known to be popular track day cars, but there were a couple of them getting in on the fun, including this coupe sitting on a set of Desmond Regamaster Evos.

Fun Comes First
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While VTEC Club is definitely a function over form kind of event, many of the cars are built with a cool sense of style. How can you not like an EF Civic with classic Advan livery for an old school Group A vibe?

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Or how about this EK that’s been given a livery inspired by the Gathers Super Taikyu racer from the late ’90s. I love it.

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Perhaps best of all, you won’t find too many big transporters or professional pit crews at a VTEC Club event. In fact, the vast majority of the cars are driven to the track rather than being trailered. It’s stuff that just about anyone can aspire to.

I actually had so much fun on Saturday that when I got home I had to actively stop myself from jumping on Craigslist and trying to find an old Honda so I can get in on the action myself.

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VTEC Club is competitive, sure, but more than that it’s fun, affordable and very relatable for the everyday car enthusiast. Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a Honda fan, it’s impossible not to dig what VTEC Club has done for the grassroots racing scene.

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Stay tuned for more from Buttonwillow as I ready some VTEC-themed car spotlights in the coming days.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia

Cutting Room Floor
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Don't resist it Mike, get a Honda. I'd love to see a Honda project car on here and get to see you take it to Vtec Club. I'm partial to CB7 Accords myself.


There is a lot to like about this side of the Honda fan base. I'm loving the liveries on some of these cars.


Looks like an awesome event. With this and Final Bout I think it's pretty obvious nostalgia for the 2000's era Best Motoring and Option videos is hitting hard.

Also, the best part of the ADVAN themed EF civic is seeing its on Federal RSR's


Great article, although I have to say I am a little biased!

Completely agree with your sentiments though Mike, I've been lucky enough to have driven some expensive and fast cars, but I've never had as much fun as I have in the little Civic below. Sometimes, less is more!


As a chap who also drives an EF Civic, this article managed to brighten my day. Can't wait to read the spotlight!


Nice piece Mike. You're 100% right about the growing appreciation of the grass roots side of the game. I'm digging that old school Advan EF Civic! Very cool indeed.


Great article. Grass roots is always appreciated by the community cause its majority of what we have. Cant go wrong with some fun light Hondas! Also did not realise the K motor has been around for 15 years...thats crazy!


RenoRotary I used AD08s the entire year but I could no longer justify paying $600 for a set of tires where the funds cut into seat time. However I have dropped 3-4 seconds from PBs with the RSRR soooooo


Finally some grassroots Honda love from SH! About time we had an article about people spending money on the driver of the car rather than the car itself.


Sorry I didn't want that to sound like an attack. Agreed if you're getting out to events and getting seat time it's probably worth that time difference just in seat time. It just struck me as funny.
The car looks great though, and you decided on the best iconic livery to use.


PolarGrey what ever happened the the civic golf mk1 cabriolet project car ;)


Wires The Prelude is the true gem, sir. Good taste in cars!


"...the vast majority of the cars are driven to the track rather than being trailered."
I wonder how many of them are actually street legal in California, though.


I'm stunned that any body can get paid $8640

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Haha I wasn't sure how to interpret it which is why I ended mine like that. Appreciate it and I'm aiming to do a new livery for next year that won't keep me committed to a company with such expensive tiresU0001f605


I havent been on here too long so i may have missed that one.


A long time ago in a galaxy far far away there was a Speedhunters Project Car Civic. Neat little car, I think it was rocking on some TEs


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PolyMEDrummer It's hard to say haha. There are plenty of CARB-certified swapped Hondas around though.


JH4DC321 I think there's a place for both, but yeah I agree that there are a lot of cars out there that are probably way over built for their purpose.


DinoSawr Thanks! Yeah it's crazy about the K-motors. To me the still feel like the latest and greatest, but even Honda is starting to phase them out in favor of the lower displacement turbocharged stuff.


Matboy_Au Thanks a lot!


gagahsasono Thanks, I think you'll dig the spotlights!


Wires Love it!


Ryan_spilner RenoRotary Haha!


PolarGrey I'd love to. But I actually have my '93 P10 G20 that could be built quite similar to the cars in this post only in a Nissan wrapper rather than a Honda one ;)


Stoked you've finally covered one of these events, I must get to one even if I am in another continent. The vibe I get from reading/watching coverage of a Vtec Club event is something I just don't feel we get here in the UK.


This whole thing has the vibe of an old BMI dvd. Cool!


Mike Garrett Do it!!!


Nice article Mike! I have participated in a few VTEC Club events since my engine swap and it always amuses me when people double take on the roster sheet to see a Lotus signed up by its lonesome in "open class" lol. There are some seriously quick Honda drivers driving in VTEC Club. It goes to show it's not about the budget but the passion!

On another unrelated note Mike, do you know what happened to my SH feature we did back in 2015? I was looking for it the other day and it seems down or offline. 



Great read, and great photos! Love the grassroots events.


Anyone know from who or where Honda's designs are coming from these days? They're really bad.


JH4DC321 What if the car is for drag?


Why were they so good in the 90s and so bad now?


My Uncle Grayson recently got a stunning metallic Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Sedan

by ...................



There's a few rare that are legal, but just about any slight modification is cause for a citation. Great thing is we drive our cars to event and pay to race instead of endangering others on public roads.


like Gary replied I am dazzled that a mother can get paid $4160
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Same thing is happening over at Subaru as well.


I cannot believe that some one can earn $7119

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Chris Nuggets wow your car is pretttttty


cjmcclure25 So true. The STI Concept was awesome looking, then they made a sasquatch with the production one.


Smiggins Some if not all cars are designed to age quickly, because sales.  Model cycle.


I am impressed that some people can get paid $8005
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