The Multiple Lives of a 60,000-mile 1998 Acura Integra GS-R09/30/2021
Most track cars in the Honda community begin life as standard A-to-B commuters that eventually work their way toward becoming competitive machines after a bevy of modifications. Cars like this 1998 acura integra GS-R will get the expected list of minor modifications before things eventually pick up, and before you know it, the project turns into a full-blown weekend track car.
A History of Racing
The difference with this DC2, owned and built by Seth Gale, is that it was already serving race duty when he purchased it last year. The car only has about 60,000 miles on it, which is almost unheard of for Acura’s third-generation golden child. It seemed like the perfect platform to build on. Gale added, “What I thought was a well-sorted contender had a lot of racing history that left it under-prepared, tired, and at risk for some difficult troubleshooting trackside.”
The car’s previous life was dedicated to drag racing and though the chassis mileage was low, it had been powered by at least three different engine setups and two different roll cages over its life span. It would serve as an ideal jumping-off point, having spherical bushings throughout, along with some other track-friendly upgrades. However, once he got the car home, Gale’s outlook shifted rather quickly when he found that curiously, the car wouldn’t shut down, even after the ignition was off and the key was removed. “It wouldn’t shut off until the headlights were switched off. Immediately realizing this car needed more than I originally projected, I started making a plan and taking advice from friends and resources,” Gale recalled.
One of those resources was Hawk Performance, which jumped in to assist with the build and brought Gale onto the Hawk Performance Race Team—signified by the 1990s-style Hawk race livery designed by Rob Wilkinson. Gale credits the entire team for helping to keep his Integra on the track and explains that they go to great lengths to help one another at every race event.
While the car was getting its new look, Seth was busy tearing into the car in search of performance, reliability, and safety. The K24 swap received a much need K20 oil pump conversion. Otherwise, it remains entirely OEM on the inside. A 50-degree VTC gear was added along with RBB intake manifold and DC5 throttle body. From the aftermarket, you’ll spot the carbon fiber Acuity Instruments intake, which is actually intended for a ninth-generation Civic, along with the brand’s shifter cables and cable bushings. The Acuity upgrades came about after Gale went about hunting down its four-way adjustable short shifter, which he also installed, as he was dead-set on adding it. Gale noted, “I reached out to Acuity Instruments to source the four-way adjustable shifter, as I knew that was a form and function piece that I HAD to have on this car—not just from a reliability perspective but from a performance standpoint as well. I needed reliable, precise shifts, and that’s what they specialize in.”
The previously mentioned spherical bearings that came with the car were pulled and replaced with PCI versions to freshen up the chassis. While the car was up on jack stands, Honed Developments front and rear roll center correction kits were added, as were the brand’s rear trailing arm reinforcement plates and tie bar end links. An ASR 24-mm adjustable rear sway bar and subframe brace were bolted on and Reinhard R2 coilovers were introduced. To maximize grip, 15 x 10-inch Konig Dekagram wheels were placed up front with 15 x 9-inchers fit at the rear, all wrapped in Hoosier R7 rubber. Just behind those wheels are Wilwood Dynapro race calipers that clamp down on Hawk DTC rotor rings with the help of Hawk DTC 70 brake pads. The rears rely on blank EP3 rotors and Hawk DTC 30 pads. The factory brake booster has been replaced by a Honed Developments delete kit and 7/8-inch master cylinder piston so that Gale can maintain complete control of his braking setup.
All Business Class Seating
You won’t find much in the way of creature comforts inside the cabin, as this Integra’s only real purpose is to compete in the Gridlife Touring Cup class. A roll cage surrounds the Racequip seat and harness, the dash has been flocked and joined by a suede Personal steering wheel, and just under the CJs Wiring switch panel is the Acuity shifter and Esco-T6 shift knob that Gale was after initially. Those are the sort of mods you expect in a track car, but this enthusiast was smart enough to put safety at the very top of his to-do list and installed a Novec fire suppression system from Lifeline that runs throughout the cabin and engine bay.
Gale brought the car to Mikey of Mspec Tuning in Chicago, Illinois to dial in the K24 and ensure it remained class-compliant, while also getting some pointers on the car’s suspension settings. Hitting the track shortly after, the early stage of the race season was accompanied by unforeseen issues, various bugs, and admittedly, some real frustration—all part of the process when building a car for competition use. As the problem-solving has continued, things are looking up, with Gale realizing some positive progression—he isn’t regretting those weekend grind sessions.
“The car seems to be becoming more reliable as I continue to stress test it during race weekends. I’m looking forward to refining the car and focusing on making it faster, after I’m able to make it dependable,” he noted. “The best part about this car is the opportunities and experiences that I have when racing it. The motorsport community is second to none, and race weekends couldn’t be more fun—even when the car doesn’t want to cooperate. I’m also really honored to be a part of the Hawk Performance team. We make it a point to help other racers, have a good time, and do our best to make sure everyone enjoys going to the track as much as we do.”
1998 acura integra GS-R
Owner: Seth Gale
Engine: K24A2; K20 oil pump; Hasport engine mounts; Karcepts PS/AC delete kit; CSF Ultimate K-swap radiator; Acuity Instruments fuel rail, TPS, carbon ninth-gen. cold-air intake; RBB intake manifold, RSX throttle body, 50-degree VTC cam gear; Fuel Lap fuel pressure regulator; custom AN fuel lines; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Unit2 baffled oil pan; Vibrant muffler; DEI header wrap; Hondata KPro
Drivetrain: RSX transmission; Acuity Instruments four-way adjustable shifter, shifter cables, and bushings
Suspension: Reinhart R2 double adjustable coilovers; Swift Racing 1,000-lb front/500-lb rear springs; ASR 24-mm adjustable rear sway bar, rear subframe brace, adjustable end links; ITR front sway bar; PCI spherical bushings throughout, upper control arms w/added caster, rear camber kit; Honed Developments rear trailing arm reinforcement plates, front/rear roll center correction kits, tie bar end links
Braking: Wilwood Dynapro radial front big brake kit; RSX rear calipers; Hawk Performance front DTC rotor rings, EP3 rotor blanks, DTC 70 front pads, DTC 30 rear pads, HP660 brake fluid; Honed Developments brake booster delete kit, 7/8-inch master cylinder piston, Karcepts 36-mm hubs; APR extended studs
Wheels and Tires: 15 x 10-inch +25 front, 15 x 9-inch +35 rear Konig Dekagram; 245/40 front, 225/45 rear Hoosier R7
Exterior: Vinyl wrap designed by Rob Wilkinson; Avery Denison vinyl wrap at Wrapped by SB; 10-mm AlumaCorr front splitter; PCI rear wing, 4.0-inch side skirts; Honed Developments front splitter mounts; FS Performance Engineering splitter rods; Aerocatch hood latches; Tracklife fender cutouts
Interior: Racequip containment seat, harness, window net; Lifeline Zero 360 Novec fire suppression system; custom roll cage; Personal steering wheel; NRG quick-release hub, adapter; Acuity Instruments ESCO-T6 shift knob; Innovate oil pressure, temp, coolant temp, battery voltage gauges; CJS Wiring race conversion harness, switch panel, engine harness, custom cabin harness
Thank you: Huge help from my partners on this season and this car, mainly Taylor Allen and John Butler at Hawk Performance and Russ Garehan at Acuity Instruments. The massive amount of information, recommendations, and troubleshooting help from the great people at Honed Developments, Unit2Fab, and Lifeline.
I’m part of the Hawk Performance race team, and without the other drivers on the team, I would never be able to keep the car racing at each event. The other members of the team keep this and all of our cars running and racing each weekend. Without them, this car would be a good-looking paperweight.
My friend Johnny Rose for massive amounts of support cleaning up and fixing the wiring on the car getting the oil pump installed, as well as continuing to be a resource of information and help. The friends local to me that continue to come over to help fix the car in between race weekends in preparation for the next event. The great community at the track that never lets a race car retire the weekend early without a fight.
But most importantly my wife, Mackenzie, for her continued support and understanding as I spend ALL of my money and time with this car and on this hobby. Without her, I would never be able to put in the effort and focus to develop and race a pretty cool car.
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