HPD Blog

Monday, June 4, 2012

I Race a Honda: Mike Porter

My name is Mike Porter, and I race a Honda-powered off-road buggy. I recently won the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series championship in the Pro Buggy Unlimited class.

The Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series is a series for short-course off-road racing. It’s kind of like motocross, only with trucks and buggies instead of motorcycles. Unlike desert off-road racing, where you’re racing more against the elements and the clock, this is almost like a combat sport. It’s door to door, wheel to wheel, and intimidation is a big factor. It’s very aggressive, and for 20 minutes you’re giving it all you’ve got – there’s no pacing yourself.

I love the door-to-door racing aspect of it. The equipment can handle it, unlike desert racing, where you’ve got to pace yourself and save your equipment.

The class I race in is called Unlimited Buggy, but there are limitations. We’re allowed to run a 1650cc, water-cooled engine, with no variable cam timing and a carburetor with 28mm restrictors. Internally in the motor, you can bump the compression, do head work, change valves and cams … all of that is open. The result is a very high-strung engine that we’re pushing to the limit. We’re running at 9,200 rpm.

In our case, the engine is based on a Honda B16A. We have to build aftermarket camshafts that don’t have the VTEC lobes. We sleeve the block, and run 13:1 compression.

When I say “we,” I really mean “we.” I own Redline Performance in Anaheim, Calif. We build engines for off-road racing and recreation. That’s why I chose the Honda. It’s superior to some of the other choices. We’ve been building Honda motors for 18 years, and we know them like the back of our hand. We feel that we have an advantage over everyone else. The engine makes good power, and since the chassis in which it sits weighs fewer than 2,000 lbs., it’s a quick package.

I run an Alumicraft chassis. It has to have a minimum weight of 1,820 lbs. or 1,850 lbs., depending on engine configuration, but most are over that. The suspension is unlimited, and we’ve got 18 inches of wheel travel all around to absorb the bumps and jump landings. They handle amazingly – you can fling them sideways, or sprint-car them into the corner. They accelerate very fast because the power-to-weight ratio is very good.

One unique thing we have is a turning brake. Because the engine is in the rear, we don’t have a lot of weight on the nose, so sometimes under power, the front end gets light. The turning brake – operated by a handle in the cockpit – helps whip the car in whichever direction you want it to go. Especially when you drive on the inside of somebody, you can use the turning brake to make a pass. Our rear end is not a spool, so we can lock one tire or the other.

I used all of it to good effect this year, winning the championship. It’s an incredible feeling. Winning races is good, but the main goal is winning championships. Championships don’t come easily, and we were there just about every weekend. It’ll be even better if we can back it up next year. Not many guys have done it back-to-back.

Look for Mike Porter and other Honda-powered buggies in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series. You can also catch the series on SPEED, NBC Sports Network and MavTV.

If you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program at http://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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