Video: Screaming Honda CRX Barely Avoids Oblivious Backmarker

When we start driving on the track, we’re typically instructed to look through the corner—often as far ahead as possible. This helps to straighten our lines, heighten our situational awareness, and remain calmer in the car. However, a far-reaching gaze cannot always prevent us from close shaves with less-experienced drivers. Such was the case with this incident between Jeremy Croiset and another driver during a Honda Challenge race at Buttonwillow.

From the start, it’s obvious he’s on a committed lap. He’s constantly managing his very loose Honda CRX, which he hurls into Buttonwillow’s quicker corners with great accuracy. Watch how the car rotates into Bus Stop (0:02) with serious speed; the rear sliding perfectly into a beautiful zero-steer. With a fully prepped CRX, this isn’t as challenging as one might think.

As Agile as Any

His ’91 CRX Si is fitted with a B16 motor, which makes roughly 170 horsepower at the front wheels. That engine, controlled by an AEM Infinity management system, sends its power through an Integra Type R’s gearbox. Fortunately, a car this light and agile doesn’t require much power, nor does it need to slow much. Croiset can hurl it into corners, countersteer, let the MCS shocks settle the car, then mat his right foot to plant the rear. Unfortunately, the lack of power also means he can’t rely on grunt to get him out of a jam.

Its short wheelbase helps Croiset’s CRX zero-steer into tight corners with unbelievable speed.

A Committed Charge

Leading up to this incident, Croiset couldn’t afford to leave anything on the table. “It was the second lap of the race, and I was in the lead in front of my friend Renan Bayer. He was right on my tail and I didn’t want to give him an opportunity to get by,” he adds.

Precision and a patient throttle application are necessary through Riverside (0:06)—especially in something which drives the front wheels. Croiset’s stabs at the throttle are measured, but you get the sense that he’s desperately trying to plant his right foot; having only 170 horsepower at his disposal means he has to keep the engine screaming. With the adrenaline coursing through his veins, Croiset fires towards the kink preceding the famous Phil Hill corner.

Upon approach, it seems that the driver ahead—likely the one who spat up that cloud of dirt a few corners prior—decides to leave the door open. But instead of giving Croiset a clear run through the corner, he turns in and chops across the nose of the CRX—then just a length behind. At that moment, Croiset’s ticker might’ve skipped several beats.

At this point, Croiset had precious tenths to make a decision.

Quick Computing

“I thought the red car would stay wide as I approached the kink,” Croiset starts, “but he started to cut down to the apex, though not as quick as I would’ve expected if he was trying to get out of the way. That made me second-guess what he would continue to do, which made me question whether I should take the inside or outside. In the end, I elected to go to the outside, because at least I had the dirt to ditch into if I needed more room. I couldn’t have said the same about the inside—the curb that probably would’ve launched me into the side of the red car anyway!”
After dropping his outside wheels in the dirt, Croiset gathers it up in the nick of time and keeps hurtling forward. Not fazed, he downshifts twice—there’s not much low-end torque available—and throws the CRX over Phil Hill. On the subsequent straight, he checks in with his rival. “Right after the miss, I noticed Bayer was giving me a huge thumbs up and I was signaling him to say, ‘What the hell was that guy thinking?’”
Fortunately, a few gray hairs and a skipped beat were all he paid for this tense incident, and he wasn’t even forced to give up a position. In fact, the unflappable Croiset went on to win the event. For the astonished viewer, the upside to this close shave is to demonstrate what a skilled racer is capable of when they’re forced to make critical decisions in a very short span of time.
“This is an example of how important it is to have situational awareness—especially when you’re driving your car at a significantly reduced pace while there is racing going on around you,” Croiset concludes. When on a hot track, keeping one eye on your mirrors is always a good practice, lest you want a reputation as a mobile chicane.

 

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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