HPD Blog

Friday, January 28, 2011

I RACE A HONDA: LARA TALLMAN

For 2011, I’ll be driving a Honda Civic Si with Vesko Kozarov in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner class. It’s a series for lightly modified production cars with two classes (the other class, Grand Sport, is for the big-engine cars) and the races are usually two-and-a-half hours in length.

I’m excited for the coming season because our Civic is reliable and working well and, thanks to the hard work we’ve been putting in and the progress we’ve been seeing, we should be competitive in 2011. Plus, we’re bringing Skullcandy on board as a new sponsor for our CA Sport team, so there’s a lot to be excited about.

My personal racing story begins in 2006, and I’ve been fully committed since, spending all of my free time driving and racing and building our team in Salt Lake City. We’ve slowly built our group, and started in the Continental series with an Acura in 2008. We switched to the Civic platform in 2009. We built a great car, but unfortunately, at the Daytona test days, we rented the seat and the driver totaled the car. We had to start over and missed a lot of races because of that.

We went with the Civic because of budget and reliability. We felt it was a good platform – reliable and easy to maintain. Because we’re trying to start small, we’re very careful about our budget. The Civic is not only economical to run, but Honda supports the series well with contingency money. That’s certainly appealing.

Our program is a little bit different because we run the engine that’s installed in the Civic for the U.S. Most of the others run the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) engine, but we feel we can definitely be competitive with the U.S. engine. It has taken us a little while to get there, but this year I believe we will be. We’ve worked with the sanctioning body, Grand-Am Road Racing, and I think with some adjustments, we’re closer. We ran the American motor at three or four Grand-Am races last year, plus a lot of local races. We put a lot of miles on it and the performance was excellent as far as reliability goes.

I think 2011 is going to be a great season because we’re getting stronger in every way. Part of it is experience – having a more experienced crew – because strategy and pit stops are terribly important, as is consistency. Our crew is all volunteer, but some of them have been with us for two years. We have a strategist that has worked with us for two years and is committed to us. He’s written some great software to track things from the pit wall.

We continue to improve the car. We’re maybe not doing all the things we can do within the rules yet, because of budget, but we’re getting pretty close. If we can be more competitive and we have a good fighting chance, it’s going to be a blast.

I’m really happy to be racing, and I enjoy the Civic. The Honda Performance Development people have been great to work with. They’ve been working on our behalf negotiating with Grand-Am on rules changes to help the car’s competitiveness.

Plus, they provide discounts on parts through the Honda Racing Line program, which is important when we struggle for the finances to keep our program going. Every little bit counts, especially when you’re buying doors in bulk! Racing in the Continental Tire Challenge can get a little rowdy; I think I bought five passenger doors last season.

If things work out, we might even add a second car. We do have some interested drivers. We’ll wait and see how the season plays out.

Look for the Skullcandy Racing / CA Sport Honda Civic Si in Grand-Am Continental Tire Challenge races this season at tracks from Daytona International Speedway to Miller Motorsports Park.

And if you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda Power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program at www.hondaracingline.com.

Honda Racing Line is proud to offer original equipment replacement parts, performance parts and crate engines to Honda and Acura grassroots racers in the entry level through professional ranks.

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