“Hey Joe, hand me the 3/16” socket,” I mumbled into the underside of my car. I felt a nudge in my ribs as my friend, Joe, handed me the socket I asked for. Matching the ends of the hexagonal shaped socket with the stub on my wrench, I pushed the two together. A loud click signaled the two ends of the socket and wrench fit perfectly. Reluctantly, I went to work tightening the chassis of my car. I felt overwhelmed by the number of lugs I would have to check and tighten. It took me almost a half an hour to completely tighten each bolt and there were still eight more to go. To add to my frustration, the sun was starting to set which forced me to use an inadequate electrical lamp to illuminate my garage at home.
Joe, was working on his own car in the garage space next to mine. He was inspecting and cleaning the outside of his white 1993 Honda Civic SI. He had a soft cloth in one hand and a spray bottle of wax in the other. The hand with the soft cloth would wipe for ten seconds followed by the “sqshhh sqshhh” of the spray bottle. Always being the meticulous one, he continued his wipe and spray cycle for many hours to make sure his car was immaculate.
As I turned one of the bolts clockwise to tighten it, I felt a sharp, searing pain on the upper portion of my hand. Instinctively, I swore, forgetting all the lessons on good manners my parents had taught me. I brought my hand up to inspect the wound but the darkness of the garage, the setting sun, and the little remaining light my car blocked made it so I couldn’t see my hand at all. As I climbed out from underneath the car, I noticed that I was leaving a trail of thick, dark, drops with my movements. I carelessly wiped off the dripping blood on my shirt and looked at the length and depth of the cut in my hand. “Oh man! Joe check out this cut. I’m going to love this scar! It will make my hand look more manly. Oh yeah! But my hand hurts really bad.” I happily exclaimed. The cut ran the whole length of my hand. Luckily, it was the top of my hand that was cut and not the palm side of it, so I knew I didn’t get any important veins that would make me bleed to death. It was another scar I could add to my body giving me more of a masculine look which was always a plus with the ladies. Grabbing the towel I had used earlier to wipe off my sweat, I wrapped my hand to stop the bleeding and continued on my work not knowing that this first injury would foreshadow future events.
“Hey, I just checked your roll cage, and it’s a lot more solid than mine. Is the roll cage on my car tight enough or do we have to take it to a welding shop before they close?” asked Joe.
“It’ll be fine. Plus I seriously doubt you’ll need it. If you’re really worried about it, I think the roll cage bolts use a 22 mm. socket so go tighten it.” I replied in the middle of tightening another chassis bolt.
It was July and we were preparing our cars for the Battle of the Imports the next day. “Battle”, as most people that attended the event preferred to call it, was the largest import drag racing event in the country. The event was scheduled four times every year at the Los Angeles Raceway. Although the event was meant for all import cars, Japanese cars dominated the race. My car, a black 1994 Acura Integra GSR was a common site there along with some other Japanese sport compacts, such as Joe’s Honda Civic.
Many people have the impression that a racing event full of small engine, Japanese, compacts would be a race full of slow cars, that is not the case. Most cars at Battle, including mine, have modifications that make them extremely quick cars putting the large displacement American cars to shame. Take, for example, my modified