Englishtown Open Track Day
In the Northeastern United States, few tracks are recognized like Englishtown’s Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. Though this track has built its name on being a premier drag racing destination over the years, they built a 1.3-mile tight road course a few years ago. Whether it’s learning driving techniques in their school, attending a drift event with Club Loose, or getting some open track time, this track is just right for the amateur, like me, looking for seat time.
A couple friends of mine and me signed up for the open track day, since we completed our road course school already. Our race weekend started how all of them usually do, spending countless hours in the garage checking everything that needs to be prepped before going to the racetrack.
My Civic and I went off track last time we made the trip to Englishtown. I had concluded it was due to my bald Yokohama Advan AD08 tires. I decided to replace them with their successor, the AD08R tire. I would also be adding a little more rigidity, and style points, to the rear with a Cusco carbon fiber strut brace. Finishing off my prep with some fender rolling, a new ECU chip, and an oil change with Motul 8100 synthetic oil.
The cool thing about OBD1 Honda ECU chips is how easy they are to switch out.
Simply undo the clip holding it in place, and remove straight up, pushing the new chip straight down and fastening it with the small cutout facing the inside of the ECU. This chip was an experiment for me; to raise my rev limiter above 8000rpm and adjust the fuel maps to see if the car responded any better.
Anyone can tell you the problem with being lowered and having larger wheels/tires than stock, is that your fenders don’t accept the changes. As illustrated here, I’ve pinched my fenders numerous times since getting the car on the road, but it took until now for me to roll those pesky tabs up.
Using this Eastwood fender roller makes it easier than ever. This replaces the hammer, rag, and tons of chipped paint normally associated with this task.
Heating up the thin fender metal with a heat gun makes all the difference. Not only making the metal more malleable, but also letting the paint’s edge soften and bend, preventing chipping.
After a bunch of rolling and adjusting, in order to get the correct angles on the rolled tabs, my fender was back to being smooth. I also had a little bit more room for my fresh new tires to settle into.
My last piece of preparation was to install my new Cusco 40mm carbon fiber rear strut brace. The weave is clean, and it only weighs a couple pounds including the metal bases at each end.
The install was basic, by loosening all associated hardware the bar slid onto it’s mounting point. From there it was just a matter of tightening everything up, to give the rear of my car some added rigidity and style. Also, the Coke can is mounted in my trunk as a joke.
Elsewhere in the driveway, a friend of mine, was busy changing all of his fluids in preparation of the day ahead.
I just love when driveways are full of nice cars like this. Unfortunately, Jesse’s FR-S and Dave’s S2000 wouldn’t be partaking in the track day festivities with us.
With prep finished, the open track day was upon us. The morning was filled with last minute tire pressure, lug nut tightness, and fluid checks.
All three of our Civics are outfitted with pieces to make driving on the track a little easier and safer. Frue’s EM1 is fitted with an OMP steering wheel, a Buddy Club P1 spec bucket seat, and Crow racing harness wrapped around an Autopower roll bar.
Kyle’s EK has a Momo steering wheel, and F1 Spec bucket seats. These may not be FIA certified for wheel-to-wheel racing but it helps him stay planted under heavy G-forces.
My Civic has Bride Zeta III seats, Status racing harnesses, a Momo steering wheel, and an Autopower 6-pt roll cage.
When we arrived, the road course school participants were waiting for their turn out on the track. The day’s schedule is laid out and very organized, with the road course driving school taking place on the same day as their open track day sessions. The school starts in the morning, a few hours prior to the first open track session. This lets the school attendees get some track time on their own, and then watch the open track drivers to see the correct methods for passing.
An interesting aspect of open track sessions is the other cars that show up to the track. Right next to our paddock area was this nice silver STI with Hankook slicks. This was actually great for me, since I sold my 2007 STI a few years ago in order to build my current Honda Civic. So this was my chance to see if I had made the right decision.
He was out on track in the same session as us and he gave me the “point-by”, allowing me to pass pretty early on. Reassuring my theory that building the Civic was the right choice for me.
After a few early sessions, it appeared my new chip experiment was a bad idea. My car began to break up when I hit the throttle around any turn, and I was getting some serious oil blow-by, which somehow ended up on my door and rear bumper. I also managed to rip apart my rear sway bar bushing. So I decided it was better to just call it a day for the Civic and get some coverage of Frue and Kyle on track.
The track itself is pretty flat, with little to no elevation changes other than a corkscrew-esque blind corner before the back straight.
One of the most exhilarating portions of the course layout is right in front of the grandstands, going around the banked turn. It happens to have an unforgiving wall, just feet away, waiting to ruin your day.
This Porsche Boxster was at the track the last time we were there, and wasn’t in our session so we had the opportunity to watch him from the stands last time. He was so smooth and fast in every corner. With him there again this time, I found out he owns a race team. Also, that he retired at age 45, and now spends his time driving at different racetracks. Explains a lot…
Another car that we recognized from a previous track day was this white Spoon themed EP3 Honda Civic.
The owner and a friend of his took turns dialing it in throughout the day, and ended up running some pretty great laps.
By the afternoon Frue’s rear bumper showed evidence of fluids dumping out the exhaust.
With only one more afternoon session left before the day was finished, the guys checked pressures and fluids before heading back out on track.
The banked turn didn’t claim anyone today, as both of them safely rounded out their final laps.
To quote the Beatles, Happiness is a warm… tire?
With the day over, and all three of our cars still in one piece we headed home. Each of us immediately had plenty of ideas of how we would improve our times next track day, and I unfortunately had some parts to fix.