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Everything You Wanted to Know About NASA's Honda Challenge Racing Series

Honda Challenge offers a tight rules structure for close competition among a variety of donor cars from which to choose. Honda Challenge consists of H1, H2 and H4 classes, in “Limited Preparation,” “Factory Preparation” and “Restricted Preparation” vehicles, which are open to Hondas and Acuras. There is a lot of variety in the horsepower and weight of the different cars eligible for Honda Challenge, so even though the rules structure is tight, you still have the freedom to build the kind of car that either you prefer or the kind of car that excels on tracks in your region.

The NASA Honda Challenge Series was created to meet the needs of Honda/Acura owners looking for a series specifically tailored to accommodate a wide range of Honda and Acura vehicles and components.

The following rules are not guidelines for this class but an actual listing of the allowed and the required modifications. If these rules do not expressly state a modification is allowed, it is prohibited. No item, which is allowed, shall also perform a prohibited function. The driver is responsible for vehicle legality.

In H1 Hybrid, vehicles are classified by engine type and drive-wheel configuration only.

In H2 “Limited Preparation” vehicles, all Honda and Acura cars with the following engines: D15, D16, B16, B16B CTR, B17, B18A, B18B, B18C, B18C1, B18C5, B20B, H22, H23 (non VTEC), F20B, F22, F23, K20A2, K20A3, K20Z1, K20Z3, K24A1, K24A2, K24A4. Parts requirements, maximum compression ratios and vehicle weights apply.

In H2 “Restricted Preparation” vehicles, all Acura RSX, 2006-2012 Honda Civic, 2004-2008 Acura TSX, 2015 and up Acura TLX with 8DCT transmission, and 2013 and up Acura ILX with six-speed transmission and 2016 and up Honda Civic with L15B engines.

In “Factory Preparation” H2 vehicles, all 2000-2009 Honda S2000.

In “Factory Preparation” H4 vehicles, all 1986 to 2001 Acura Integra, 1990 to 2002 Honda Accord, 1988 to 2011 Honda Civic, all Honda CRX, 1996 and 1997 Honda Del Sol, 1988 to 1996 Honda Prelude and 2001 and up Honda Fit.

Depending on the model you choose as a donor, prices can range from a $500 1988 CRX to a $30,000 2015 Acura TLX.

Horsepower — 140 to 215, depending on model

Compression ratio — 9.8:1 to 12.7:1, depending on model

1,900 to 3,000 pounds, depending on model
Any grade of unleaded or leaded fuel obtained from a commercial fuel station that is open to the general public. Also, any grade of unleaded or leaded fuel is allowed that is obtained from the fuel vendor at race track where you are competing. You may not obtain fuel from drums or cans unless that is the fuel vendor’s customary method of dispensing fuel. No more than 20 percent ethanol.
$10,000 or less for home builds, including donor, or have a car built for around $25,000, including donor.
Honda Challenge cars do not have an overabundance of horsepower, so you need a good setup and excellent handling to be competitive. A limited-slip differential, whether it’s a Torsen or a metal-plate-style unit also is a must, but it must fit into the OEM housing. Any battery is permitted, replacement mirrors, wiring harness removal, 3-inch brake ducting holes in front fascia, any exhaust manifold and system may be used, spherical bearings on suspension, underdrive pulleys, adjustable fuel pressure regulators, unrestricted use of oil coolers, rear drum brakes maybe updated/backdated to OEM discs.

Average cost to run a weekend

From $800 to $1,200 including fuel and entry fees.

Tires, size, brand and prices
Toyo Proxes RR, max width of 235 mm From $188 for a 205-50-15 to $239 for a 235-40-17 Maximum wheel width for H2 and H4 vehicles below 2,600 pounds is 7 inches. Maximum wheel width for H2 and H4 vehicles 2,601 pounds and more is 8 inches.

Brakes, brands and prices
Big brake kits allowed, driver preference on pads, Hawk, Cobalt, Carbotech, etc. $122 to $200 for fronts, which last about three events or more, depending on car weight $125 to $150 rears, which last a full season

Check the NASA Contingencies page for the latest programs.

Affordable and reliable, even junkyard engines are competitive in Honda Challenge 2 and 4, great availability of parts, lots of aftermarket support, any chassis is a potential racecar, virtually unlimited choices in engine swaps are permitted.
Body parts for older CRXs are getting more difficult to find
  • H2 Limited Preparation and H4, “Engines may be balanced and/or blueprinted. Lightening of moving parts beyond what is necessary to balance is prohibited. Engine bearings may be replaced with aftermarket replacements and engine clearances (piston to wall, valve lash, etc) are unrestricted and are considered blueprinting.”
  • H4 “Cylinder head intake ports, exhaust ports, and intake manifold may be port matched but cannot be machined beyond one (1) inch into the head or intake.”
  • H2 Limited Preparation, “Compression may be increased one half (.5) a point greater than OEM number.”
  • Timing gears must remain OEM. Cars equipped from the factory with plastic timing gears may use replacement metal gears so long as cam timing remains stock. OEM crank timing gear may be adjusted with an offset key back to stock position. Offset keys may be used with cam gears on SOHC engines only.
  • Polyurethane or hard rubber motor mounts and/or inserts may be used.
  • Flywheel, clutch and pressure plate are unrestricted, provided each item individually would function properly with otherwise OEM parts.
  • Suspension bushings of unrestricted origin are allowed.
  • Camber adjustment devices (plates/shims/eccentric, etc.) are unrestricted but are limited to one per wheel. Front and rear upper control arms may be modified or replaced with items that allow camber and/or caster adjustment only.


Questions and Answers to Feed Your Curiosity

We have three different classes and, depending on the region, the popularity is different. SoCal is popular with H2 and H4 , the East Coast regions have more H2 or H1.  Nationwide, H2 is the most popular class and is consistently represented in the NASA National Championships.

In the past,  pre-2000 chassis were preferred because of the double wishbone suspension. However, newer chassis are making their way into the classes, some of which are resetting lap records.

Swaps are legal in all classes. Rules define what type of engine will be legal to use as a swap.

Competition is high, for being a club racing class, there are drivers that can challenge any pro driver any time. Honda Challenge has always been known for having extremely competitive drivers

NASA NE, Mid-Atlantic, and SoCal have the highest car counts, however NASA SE and Texas have had steady participation for the last couple of years.

As with all the classes, the camaraderie between drivers and the feel of family is there. Everybody is willing to help. If you are new to racing, take your time, these guys have been doing it for a while, you will get there with patience.
It is not too expensive, but it is racing. Front-running cars can be on the pricey side. But an entry-level car can be very affordable.

 The cars are cheap, easy on consumables, and punch well above their weight compared to much more expensive classes. The balanced ruleset lets you pick your favorite car and powertrain, and if built to the rules, it will be competitive. We consider it the “sweet spot” of road racing, since it balances cost of ownership, speed, and fun.

I think it is always better to find a built car and make it your own. Building a car from scratch can get expensive very quick.
That’s the beauty of HC. We have classed cars for every like. You can go either way and still be competitive.


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Honda Challenge Series Contacts

Honda Challenge
Dane Byrd
Region: Texas
Title(s): Regional Series Leader
Series: Honda Challenge
Daniel Madamba
Region: Mid South
Title(s): Regional Series Leader
Series: Honda Challenge,Super Touring
Gabe Ortega
Region: Arizona
Title(s): Regional Series Leader
Series: Honda Challenge
Jeremy Lucas
Region: Great Lakes
Title(s): Regional Series Leader
Series: Honda Challenge,Spec3,Spec E30,Spec E46
Marcel Dekerpel
Region: California-Southern
Title(s): National Series Director,Regional Series Leader
Series: Honda Challenge
Michael Young
Region: Mid Atlantic
Title(s): Regional Series Leader
Series: Honda Challenge
Rob Oxford
Region: Southeast
Title(s): Regional Series Leader
Series: Honda Challenge
Jackie Andrews
Region: Northeast
Title(s): Regional Series Leader
Series: Honda Challenge