Thursday, October 22, 2015

Integra Type R Expo - 2007

A couple of months before I started this blog in 2007, My friend Carl and I had driven my Civic all the way to Virginia to attend the Integra Type R Expo. I figured that it was not too late to write up a summary of what, for me, was an epic road trip.

I don't know whose idea it was, but Carl and I figured it would be a cool to drive the race Civic almost 1400 km down to Virginia International Raceway so we could instruct and get some track time at this fabulous track.

For those who are not familiar with the Civic in question, the car had no interior, except for two seats, no radio, no air conditioning and no cruise control. Add to that a pretty loud exhaust and a close-ratio transmission, and you end up with possibly the dumbest possible choice of a car for a road trip. At least we had a roof.

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We loaded up the car with our gear and some old race tires and began the long trip south. Our plan was to arrive a day before the Expo so we could relax and hang around the track. We had arranged to stay at a condo at the track itself and looked forward to being at the heart of the action. Once we got to the Shenandoah Valley, we chose the more scenic roads through the mountains and stopped to take in the sights and snap a few pictures. We also did part of the Skyline drive.

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When we finally arrived at the track, there was a huge vintage racing event in progress, the Gold Cup historic races. This turned out to be a happy surprise for us, as the cars on hand were of the highest caliber, including Jaguar D-Types, Ford GT40's, a Maserati Birdcage and many other cool entries. We were drooling as we walked around the paddocks.

We were also very impressed by the facility in general. The track almost seemed like a country club, and the same farm-building architecture was repeated throughout the facility. One barn-like building housed some beautiful vintage race cars, including a couple of Brumos Porsches, but these were overshadowed by the amazing array of cars out on the track.

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We have arrived!
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The Civic would remain on the sidelines on this day
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Cool British sports cars in the paddocks
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Vintage formula cars on track
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Three Ford GT's. Wow!
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More cool British hardware
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There were many, many Fords at the event
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Beautiful sports racer. Fat tires!
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Carl in front of the garage-condos
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More Ford powered racers
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... and another beautiful sports racer
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Two Mustangs and one of several real Ford GT40's
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A nice Volvo P1800
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An unexpected racer: Pagoda Mercedes SL. I love the steelies
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A very small sports racer, ready to go
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Another cool, low sports car (also on steelies!)
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You don't see these Volvos racing every day...
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Beautiful Lancia
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Lovely Lotus Seven
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Porsche 912 and Datsun 510
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And here they all are on track
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Shelby GT500 among the spectator cars
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A beautiful 50's SL
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In VIR's museum. D-Type!
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Carl poses beside another GT40
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Brumos racing Porsches
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C-Type and XK120
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Big bad Maserati
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People park under the oak trees when they can
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Carl, the track, and some vintage karts
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Another GT40 lurking in this plain-looking trailer
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Lotus Seven on track
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More small-bore racers
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What variety!
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British, Italian, German and Japanese cars fight it out
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Yet more small-bore racers
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A not-so vintage Civic... we could not wait to hit the track for ourselves!
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These racers were a bit more powerful
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Another cool car in the paddocks
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Pristine Datsun Roadster
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Minimalist design for this formula car
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Rare in North America: a Euro-Ford
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Some serious muscle
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A big Pontiac racer
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Lovely 240Z
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And a mean-looking E-Type
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Yet another Shelby
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A super-clean Mustang
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The MGB-GT looked like it had seen some action in its day.
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Words cannot describe how wide and mean-looking this car was
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Loud paint on this 911 (or 934?)
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Racing Falcon
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Another rare sight at the track: vintage Saab
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A view of the paddock condos and track
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Is that what I think it is?
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I had never seen such valuable cars on a track.
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Yes, it was a Maserati Birdcage!
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Another minimalist sports racer
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... and another!
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This was the first time in my life I had seen a D-Type, one of my all-time favourite cars, up close
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These Shelby's were almost commonplace
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Up close with the Kremer Porsche
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Carl with the crazy Dodge
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Clean Shelby
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Front view of the Dodge Challenger
As the day progressed, more and more ITR Expo people began to arrive. Not all of the attendees had Type R's, but most did. Among non Type-R owners, there was still a large percentage of Honda ownership. Many, like my Civic, had Type-R engines in them. One guy had actually converted his Integra to a mid-engine layout, with a 2.2 liter Prelude motor.

We took possession of our condo, and it was brilliant. Our balcony was literally overlooking the track.

There was a banquet dinner for the ITR Expo and it was the first time I ever tasted pulled pork. I loved it. I even won a titanium shift knob at the banquet.

The track day itself was a blast. I had watched a lot of video online, so I knew what type of corner would be coming up next, but I was glad to have a bunch of laps in the passenger seat to bring me up to speed. The track is fun and feels pretty safe, despite the high speeds. We had brought some pretty well-worn tires, but we were still far from the slowest car out there. I checked my lap times at one point and we were in the 2:24 range. There were some quick cars out there, including several Ariel Atoms. It turned out that the company that imported and sold them in the USA was based at this very track. We got a close up look of them in the paddocks. I took some video of a couple of fun laps in the instructor group, following a couple of CRX's around the track:



There was also a parade of the hundreds of Integra Type R's at the event, and they were grouped by colour (white, black and yellow, the only colours available). It was an impressive sight to see all these cars together.

At one point late in the day, our alternator died. I went to ask the organizers to announce on the P.A. that we were looking to buy a replacement on-site (we needed the model from an Integra, of course). By the time I walked back to the car, there were two people who had brought us alternators, and we purchased and installed one of them on the still-hot car.

We had another issue as well: our power steering was leaking, a lot, and it was leaking right near the pedals. We had to put shop towels on the floor to absorb the fluid, and steering on the way home took a bit more effort than usual. Also, we had somehow chosen a route that involved a lot of twisting roads at the beginning.

In the end, the drive home was mostly uneventful. This was the furthest I had ever driven the Civic and the furthest I had ever been from home to attend a track event (not so for Carl, who has been everywhere). It was a memorable road trip for me and an unforgettable experience over all.

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Ready to tackle the track
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The Type R's begin to arrive
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Many of them were track cars
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Carl is checking out the maps
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A snack and an excellent view
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Parade of Integra Type R's... first white...
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... then black...
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... and finally the yellow ones.
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The paddocks seem empty, but they are so big that our group was pretty spaced out
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Carl gets ready to head out
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An action shot from Tunerzine.com
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A.J. Nealy's ITA-class CRX (this car is in my video)
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A rarity on track : Crossfire
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Improvised Honda badge on this GTi
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Tasteful green accents
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A more modern Civic
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Not available in Canada: Mitsubishi Evolution
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There was something special about this Integra (scroll down to see what)
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Swapped Civic
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Graffitied Integra
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A cool Sentra track car
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A pair of lovely Mugen-inspired Hondas
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More ITR's
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This one with the JDM front end
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O-Man's ITR powered CRX (this car is also featured in my video).

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... what was special? It's frikkin mid-engined!
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and it's a Prelude 2.2
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A big gaping hole where the Integra motor used to sit
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All three colours in one shot
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A serious-looking RSX
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A.J.'s car again
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It featured the original D16 SOHC
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This Ariel Atom was not like the others...
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It was a UK-spec car with the Honda K20
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... and not the Chevy 2.3
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... as can be seen from the license plate

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The man himself
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We borrowed a garage at one point
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Those wheels used to be red...
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Parked in front of the lovely CDOC race store
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Cool VW R32
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I didn't look happy, but I was!
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At least Carl looks happy
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And the Civic seemed happy too...
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... in its natural environment
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The pit lane was quiet, time for a photo.
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Shop towels to soak up the leaking power steering fluid
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We had the perfect spot to keep the roll of shop towels. Time to head home!

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