CarandDriver.com ranked the 2007 Honda Fit as one of its 10 best cars, stating that, "Its dynamics rival the responses of cars with much fancier pedigrees and price
tags. Here's one small-scale...car we can imagine folks driving not only because they can afford to, but also because they want to."
And if they want to drive the factory model, they'd die for cockpit time in the Honda Fit after Group-a Autosports—better known as Skunk2 Racing—modified the car to compete on season two of the "Street Tuner Challenge."
The Street Tuner Challenge series, airing this April and May on Speed' TV, (www.speedtv.com/programs/384/) taps into the enthusiasm for sport compact vehicles and puts it into a competitive context.
The challenge involves three teams competing for the best performance improvement in three areas: interior, exterior and horsepower...and Skunk2 Racing is the king horsepower. We're not allowed to reveal dyno numbers before the show finale airs, but let's just say Skunk2 Racing more than doubled output and kicked butt in the "Time Attack" showdown in California's high desert at the Streets Of Willow Raceway (the car specs we can show you are featured at the end of this story).
|After Group-a Autosports/Skunk2 Racing finished the Honda Fit, the car was displayed in the Honda booth at SEMA 2006.
Just Fab It
Skunk2 Racing evaluates all aspects of vehicle performance—engine, exhaust and suspension—and consistently pushes the envelope of performance (visit www.Skunk2.com and check out the product offerings). However, the Honda Fit project offered some special challenges.
"Since Honda gave us a pre-production car, there were very few aftermarket components available. We had to develop a lot of components ourselves," says Jeff Giovino, R&D manager at Group-a Autosports. "Using a Dynasty" TIG welder, we fabricated all of the aluminum inner core piping and header for the turbo kit. We fabricated seat brackets, seat belt harnesses and tie bars. Every other show [during filming of the Street Tuner Challenge] was something to do with welding."
Fortunately, welding is all in a day's work at Group-a Autosports.
"When we prototype parts, we have a couple of options," says company founder David Hsu (pronounced "shoe"). "We can machine parts. We can use sheet metal and bend them. We can fabricate parts with welding and plasma cutting, and then there's rapid prototyping. We use all of those methods, and welding gets a lot of fair play. A lot of times, it's the fastest, easiest way to build prototype components. That's why we rely on equipment from Miller."
Take header design, for example. "Theoretically, a computer could design the complex tubes and bends," says Giovino. "In reality, it's easier and more practical for us to weld them together so we can actually test performance."
With such a demand for welding, most every person in the shop knows how to weld, but at different levels.
"If we have five people working in the shop on any given day, four people can weld and three of them can weld well enough to where we can publicly present their work," says Hsu. Hsu and Giovino also do a lot of the welding, and they have decades of experience between them.
Hsu has noted a generational difference in welding process choice. "Younger guys have a 'been there, done that' attitude about MIG. Now all they want to do is TIG welding. It's like a new toy to them," says Hsu.
|David Hsu, founder of Group-a Autosports/Skunk2 Racing, reports that the Dynasty TIG welder, which uses inverter technology, enables him to make longer welds at higher amperages without popping circuit breakers like his conventional TIG welder did.
The "toy" Hsu refers to is the shop's Dynasty® 300 DX AC/DC TIG welder with advanced squarewave technology. The Dynasty uses inverter technology, which provides Skunk2 with several advantages over conventional technology machines. These include a much lower primary power draw and significantly improved aluminum welding performance. Check out Hsu's video commentary [link to video already developed] on Skunk2 and the benefits of a Dynasty TIG welder.
Advanced Technology for Dummies
Just as the popular Dummies series breaks down complex subjects so that average people can master them, Dynasty technology helps people with average skill become better welders. For example, advanced TIG technology(such as an adjustable AC output frequency for aluminum or a pulsed DC TIG arc for chrome-moly(gives the arc more directional focus. This translates into more control over the weld puddle, which leads to higher quality welds and better productivity.
One of Skunk2 Racing's more colorful fabricators and occasional driver, "Dr. Charles" Madrid, says that, "The way the Dynasty's controls are organized is really logical. The basic settings are pretty simple. We had a traditional TIG welder in the shop before we got the Dynasty, and the Dynasty is a lot more user friendly."
||"Dr. Charles" Madrid, a fabricator with Group-a Autosports/Skunk2 Racing, believes that the Dynasty TIG welder helps beginning and less skilled welders make better welds.
Soon, Madrid, Hsu, Giovino and the other fabricators in their shop will have a new toy to play with, the Dynasty 200. Giovino wanted an even more compact and portable unit, one that they could easily move around the shop, weld up to 1/4-in. aluminum and take on the transporter to races. Weighing just 45 lbs. but packed with all the features of larger welders, the Dynasty 200 fits the bill perfectly (learn more about this product).
"A lot of people are intimidated about learning how to TIG weld because they think it's difficult," says Madrid. "I found that it's really simple if you have someone teach you the basics. If I can learn to TIG weld, anyone can learn to do it. Of course, the welder itself makes a difference."
For help learning TIG basics, Miller offers some welding advice from "Professor Hammer," otherwise known as metalworking and motorsports expert Ron Covell. For help choosing your next welder, Miller's new Smart Selector™ makes the job easier.
|Glamour shot of the Group-a Autosports/Skunk2 Racing Honda Fit
|Skunk2 2007 Honda Fit
||94 TQ: 90
STOCK ENGINE MODIFICATIONS
- Turbo: Innovative Turbo Systems with Super Duplex Bearing System with internal wastegate, ITS blow-off valve
- Skunk2 Racing Downpipe
- Skunk2 Racing Turbo Manifold
- RC Injectors
- PWR Skunk2 custom intercooler
- PWR Skunk2 custom radiator
- Skunk2 Racing Throttle Body
- Skunk2 Racing full stainless Mega Power R (60mm) exhaust system
- Magnaflow Catalytic Converter
- Quaife LSD
- Driveshaft Shop custom high-performance level 5 axles
- ACT Custom Clutch
- ACT Custom Flywheel
- Hondata ECU Program
- Magnaflow Hi-Flow Catalytic Converter
- Braille Lightweight Battery
- NGK Sparkplugs: Iridium BKR7EIX
- Torco Oil: SR5 5/20
||Skunk2 Racing Modifications: Lightening/structural integrity
- Front: Brembo GT/12" 2-Piece Slotted Rotors/4-Piston Calipers/Stainless Lines
- Rear: Skunk2 rear disk conversion with Brembo Slotted Rotors
- Skunk2 Full Coilovers
- Skunk2 Front Sway Bar
- Volk Racing Wheels: GT-7: 18 X 7.5 +44 Gun Metal with polished rim
- BFGoodrich Tires: g-Force Sport 215/35 ZR18
- Skunk2 Racing Lightweight Alloy Lug Nuts
- Installation by Form N Function
- Front Seats: RaceTech RT1000
- RaceTech Alluminum RTB1005M Mounting Brackets
- RaceTech RTMAG4 Harnesses
- Rear Seats: RaceTech fabric with custom logo embroidery.
- Skunk2 Racing harness bar and lateral support
- Door Panels: Custom upholstered with RaceTech fabric and suede
- Headliner: Custom upholstered with suede
- RacePak UltraDash Extreme
- Skunk2 Racing Shift Knob
- Auto Werks all-metal custom wide body modification and bodywork
- Auto Werks custom paint
- House of Kolor Paint
- Vinyl Mayhem: Custom Vinyl Stickers
- Installation: Form N Function Car Audio
- Sony Explod Car Audio Components
|PARTNERS/SPONSORS (Alphabetical Order)
||Advanced Clutch Technologies (ACT)
|American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
|Form N Function
|House of Kolor
|Innovative Turbo Systems
||www.racetech.co.nz & www.racetechseatsna.com
|The Drive Shaft Sho
|Volk Racing Wheels