Team Speed at Long Beach Grand Prix: Acura Doubles the Awesomeness
Acura IMSA GTP & Integra: One is powered by an NSX, the other is the most dominant touring car to ever grace SCCA.
The early Nineties were the swan song for Group C and its North American cousin, IMSA GTP. The late 1990s and early 2000s were a time of domination for a single make in the SCCA World Challenge touring car series.
Last weekend during the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on the streets of Long Beach, California, Team Speed saw both eras represented in a single pair of cars among Acura’s big display: the 1991 Acura Camel GTP Lights Prototype campaigned by English engineering firm Spice Engineering, and the 1997 Acura Integra Type R used by Wisconsin-based RealTime Racing to dominate SCCA.
The Spice Acura GTP was used by the company from 1991 through 1993, the final years of the GTP class in IMSA before the open-top World Sports Car category took its place in 1994. In those three seasons, though, the Spice Acura captured three consecutive manufacturer’s and driver’s championships in the outgoing class, along with wins at the 1991 and 1992 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 1993 12 Hours of Sebring.
The amazing success for the Spice Acura can be attributed in part to its powerplant. Taking the adage ‘Race on Sunday, sell on Monday’ to heart, Acura dropped in a race-prepped version of the same 3.0-liter VTEC V6 used in the then-new first-gen NSX. The built-up powerplant made between 425 and 440 horses and around 275 lb-ft of torque, more than enough to take home a few trophies.
The last years of IMSA GTP would not be the swan song for the Spice Acura, though, for it was restored in The New ’10s, then unveiled as Acura’s first-ever entry into the 2015 Monterey Sports Reunion at Laguna Seca, where it would place second behind the other dominant car in IMSA GTP, the Porsche 962.
A few years after the Spice Acura was placed in storage, RealTime Racing swapped out its winning Honda Prelude Si for the Acura Integra Type R, beginning in 1997 with Pierre Kleinubing behind the wheel for that year’s SCCA World Challenge touring car series.
From the first race of the 1997 season to its last in 2002, RealTime’s Integra Type R gave Acura four manufacturer’s championships, and four driver’s championships for Kleinubing, Michael Galati, and team founder Peter Cunningham.
One of the winning cars is on display in Honda’s museum in Torrance, California, while the Integra Type R overall was the most dominant model in the series’ existence, having snagged more poles, wins, and championships than any other car before or since.
Photos for Team Speed by David Ciminelli