HPD Blog

Monday, August 1, 2011

I RACE AN ACURA: KEVIN RUCK


My name’s Kevin Ruck and I’m currently in my 12th season of SCCA Club Racing. And in all of that time, I’ve never raced anything other than a Honda or an Acura.

I began in Improved Touring C (ITC) with a Honda Civic, followed by several years of racing an Improved Touring A (ITA) Acura Integra, and eventually moving up to an F Production Integra and setting my sights on winning a Runoffs National Championship. I can proudly say that I’ve accomplished that goal, having become the 2010 SCCA F Production Runoffs National Champion.

I suppose that makes the journey sound a little easier than it really was. Going back a bit, I guess it started when my Dad brought home his first Honda Civic in 1978. Ever since then, our family brought home Honda after Honda as our cars of choice. Even though my Dad’s passion lay in old British roadsters, he obviously valued products that were reliable, innovative, well-engineered and safe for his family.

As I grew up, Dad and I would restore an occasional vintage car or motorcycle, but as a teenager in the ’90s, it was Integras and Civics and the budding “sport compact craze” that bit me hard. I learned quickly that you could swap parts around from car to car to create a unique ride. The cars were easy to work on and grasp, and only your imagination limited what you could build.

I quickly found myself looking for a safe and legal environment to see what my Hondas could do. I initially found autocross and track days, but those just fueled my next desire to race on-track, wheel-to-wheel against others. My move to club racing came soon thereafter in 2000, with the purchase of my first Improved Touring C Civic.

SCCA Improved Touring race cars are lightly modified road cars. Intakes and exhausts can be changed; springs, swaybars and shocks can be replaced; and interiors can be removed for the installation of required safety equipment. It’s a Regional Club Racing class, making it ineligible for the Runoffs National Championships, but each fall, the American Road Race of Champions (ARRC) is held at Road Atlanta, where the IT community crowns its own national champions. I competed in my first ARRC in 2004 with my ITA Integra, finishing a respectable seventh. A string of podium finishes began the following year, before my Integra and I were finally able to stand atop the box in 2008 as the ARRC ITA Champion.

The year 2009 brought a desire to attempt a new challenge, as I moved up to National Club Racing in F Production. Production cars are typically much more heavily modified than IT cars, having extensively stripped chassis, heavily modified engines, and completely re-engineered suspensions.

However, in recent years the SCCA has introduced some newer, later-model cars to the Production classes that meet the desired performance parameters of the classes, but at a more limited level of modification, preparation and cost. The Acura Integra falls into this category, and it created a simple, natural transition for me into a higher level of modification and speed, without a huge change in rule-set, philosophy, or cost from what I was used to.

That first season of National Racing brought a new learning curve, but overall, it went well. I finished fifth at the Runoffs National Championship, and was presented the Jim Fitzgerald Award as the National Racing Rookie of the Year. To top it off, I took my old ITA Integra back to the ARRC and successfully defended my ITA Championship.

In 2010, it all came together in a dream season. I won the F Production Runoffs National Championship in just my second try; won the nationwide points championship; and won my third consecutive ARRC Championship in an ITB Civic.

Defending these championships in 2011 may be my hardest challenge to date. My Integra is running well, though, and I’m currently first in nationwide points and looking forward to another F Production race at the Runoffs National Championship.

There are a couple of things that make all this possible. The first is the dependability and reliability of these Hondas. At one point this year, I ran five National races in 21 days, and you’d have a hard time trying to do that in a lot of other cars. Having to perform minimal maintenance on my car allows this, so I can be maximizing my time on track doing development. On occasion, I’ve also tried improving my car with aftermarket or custom parts, only to revert to the factory Honda pieces, as the sacrifice in reliability didn’t prove worthwhile for, at best, very marginal improvements.

The support of Honda Performance Development and its Honda Racing Line program has been another large part of my success. Being an amateur racer, I am immensely thankful for HPD’s generous contingency, and the available parts associates have proven invaluable. Finding OEM replacement parts for older Hondas can occasionally be tricky, but the guys at HPD do whatever they can to find them for you, wherever they may be in the world. Without help like that, what do you do?

The well-thought-out engineering and solid reliability of Honda and Acura automobiles, with the help of Honda Performance Development and its Honda Racing Line program, keeps me out on the racetrack. With that combination, I am confident that wins and championships will continue well into the future.

Look for Kevin Ruck at the 2011 SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America on Sept.19-25.

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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