Track Day Prep at Balance Auto

What do you get when you mix a Ford built as a show car with a bunch of Hondas built as track cars?

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Well, this photo for starters. And a fun evening of hanging out at Balance Auto.

At the start of July – Canada Day in fact (yes, this is a bit of a throwback) – I made my way over to the shop to meet up with Alex Markovic as I had a couple of decals to deliver to him. He and everyone else at the shop that evening were taking part in a track day in a couple of days’ time, and they were all working to get their cars buttoned up and dialed in before leaving the following day.

As I had a bit of free time that night (before a small party with my neighbours later that evening) I happily took the chance to not just drop off the decals and head back, but to hang out with everyone at the shop and catch up.

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The video from this evening went live on the YouTube channel a couple of nights ago, but naturally I also grabbed some photos while at the shop and that’s what I have for you all today. While all makes and models are of course accepted (as demonstrated by that poor, lost Ford in the opening photo) Balance has become quite known for Hondas and a stop by the garage usually provides the opportunity to see some amazing examples.

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Of course one of those is Jackie’s own time attack project, and wouldn’t you know it – he’d cut into it again since the last visit! This time around it had been the passenger headlight (RHD, remember) that had undergone surgery – the intake filter had been re-positioned to sit right behind the headlight and this not-so-subtle hole was cut into the lens to allow air to flow straight to it. Just enough of the housing was kept intact so that it could be securely mounted in place, but nearly everything else from the headlight was removed leaving just a shell behind. When I say ‘nearly everything’, I mean that the only other remaining part of the entire assembly was the turn signal bulb, ziptied in place behind the lens.

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Elsewhere, the car was also showing off its new rain guard for the exhaust and screamer pipe. Actually, it was just an old food container but as it happened it was nearly the perfect size and shape for this application! We didn’t have the nicest weather that evening but a little rain never hurt.

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Two very different cars, but alike in that each was originally intended to be much milder before spiraling a bit out of control, and both were NA but now are swapped and turbocharged. One may have gotten more out of hand than the other, mind you…

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I believe the longest-term build in the lot that night was Brad’s EM1; he’s had this thing since before I started working the Grand Prix (hint: that was a while ago) and has been continually improving it. It has had a few motors in it over the years but currently runs a supercharged K20.

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Brad had always kept the exterior pretty much a strictly-OEM affair, so it was a surprise to see something aftermarket on it – a First Molding lip – but it looked great!

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The last time I had seen the car in person it was on black TE37s; this time around Regamaster Evos were the shoes of choice (his street setup I believe). All of these cars together represented a Honda-lover’s dream catalogue of parts.

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In front of the EM1 was Errol’s ITR; it was unchanged at this time but Errol has since picked up some slicks for it in an effort to shave more time off of his laps.

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Sitting in one of the bays was Isaac’s S2000, as he worked on it throughout the evening to get it up and running again in time for the event.

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Meanwhile, sitting next door on the alignment rack was Alex M’s Civic SiR and the old-school Teggy was still on the other hoist. As Alex both shows and tracks this Civic he has two wings for it, each mounted on its own trunk lid for easier changeovers. It was crazy how much of an impact the swap to the J’s wing had on the overall appearance of the car – and Alex joked that he felt silly driving on the street with it. Haha

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At one point I asked Alex “Are those Mugen bolts on the diffuser?” and then immediately realized it was a stupid question. Like he’d use anything else!

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Alex Leslie was also at the shop that night as he too was taking part in the track day, but his ITR was parked across the street. After he wandered off I made my way over to see what he was up to (fixing a few bubbles in some decals) and saw that Jackie’s old diffuser had made its way on as planned, as well as a small gurney flap for the OEM wing.

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I should take this chance to thank Alex again; the last time that I wrote about this car on the site I had quickly mentioned that I had never driven an ITR before. Alex stopped by my house a few days after that to pick up some decals (which you see here) and surprised me by tossing me the keys! It was a quick run – just to wash the car and get some food – but it was still incredible. However, due to muscle memory I kept shifting too early so Alex had to get after me for that, at which point I then started to wring out the B18 a bit more. I love boost for a fun street toy but there’s nothing like a sky-high redline and a screaming NA engine. Also, even though it’s a milder build as compared to some of the track toys you’ll see, I still felt slightly odd taking it through the McDonald’s drive-through; sitting in front of SUVs and minivans in a semi-stripped car with race numbers and a massive splitter, while being held in place by a bucket seat, was a new one for me. Haha.

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Fast-forwarding a little bit, the Focus joined Alex L’s ITR across the street as we had to shuffle a few cars around. Alex M’s alignment had been completed so the SiR had to be moved outside, and then Adrian showed up as well with his red EJ1.

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While Alex’s Civic had been inside and out of the on-again-off-again rain, the wing had received its new decal too. This is the shop that paints all of Alex’s cars and he had wanted this XXL-sized version of the logo cut for his J’s wing to surprise them. He and I were pleased with the finished product and everyone else seemed to like the look of it too.

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It wouldn’t have been fair to not grab a couple of pictures of Adrian’s EJ1 too, so I quickly did so while it was in front of me. It’s like a slightly older (and red-er) version of Alex’s Civic, in that both are K20-swapped coupes and feature enough quality parts and attention to detail to not just be formidable track cars, but competitive show cars as well. These guys don’t mess around.

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And finally, after a lot of work Isaac’s Amuse S2K was up and running too! This was about the point when I had to hit the road to make it back for that party with my neighbours, so I said goodbye to everyone and headed home…and this is where I’ll include the video for those who haven’t seen it yet!

In the video you’ll see me quickly mention that at this time, Mario was down in California at the Mountune meet. I had quickly alluded to it in the 720S post, but not only did he pick up some parts for himself, somewhat unexpectedly he grabbed something for me too. Minutes after I got home from Balance – and was just about to head over to that party – he frantically called me and explained that there was a scratch-and-dent sale going on with one remaining Focus ST intercooler and he needed to know immediately if I wanted it. If you follow our Instagram you’ll already know what my answer to him was, but really there was only ever one option…and that’ll be getting a proper post and video soon!

A quick note…

Anyone local, or familiar with our annual schedule, will know that ill.motion’s Sunday School is very quickly approaching (it’s next weekend!) so we’re rushing to get everything ready in time. I’ll try to get a couple of posts/videos up before then but if I don’t, it’s because we’re stuck in the garage working! We’re excited for the big day and look forward to seeing lots of you guys out there!

-Bill

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