Every year one of the largest car clubs in New Zealand, NZHondas, holds their North Island Mega Meet — NIMM — so we made sure to make the trip south to Taupo’s Ricoh Motorsport Park to check it out

Racing cars isn’t a cheap game. The tyres, the fuel, the endless list of modifications, and just buying the race car itself is a hefty set-back; enough to put most off, but not Honda enthusiasts. If somebody asks me what I would recommend in terms of an affordable performance vehicle, something capable of tearing up the racetrack, having fun, and going fast in the process — I would recommend a Honda.

Hondas are extremely affordable to buy and out-of-the-box performance is incredible. Most have extremely adequate brakes from the factory, suspension that rivals most high-end vehicles, and engines that rev well past 8000rpm. They’re cheap to modify too, with most upgrades able to be had from other models of Honda; even brakes off the Honda NSX fit onto low-spec Civics. So, it wasn’t a surprise when 40 Hondas turned up for the NZHondas annual track bash at the Ricoh Taupo Motorsport Park, ready to redline their B-, D-, F-, K-, H-, and C-series engines to their limit.

Car club racing such as this is where most people will stop progressing, as the days are so much fun, stress free, and very affordable; anyone can come along and take part — no matter what vehicle. There were several stand-out Hondas throughout the day, but I just wanted to highlight a few cars I thought really impressed me, for a variety of reasons.

Cameron Grant owns this immaculate 1991 Honda NSX, which, even though it gets taken to the track regularly, has the original engine that has over 240,000km. I want that to sink in for a bit as this is very high mileage, which just goes to prove how reliable the Honda Vtec engines are if they are serviced regularly. This NSX was the first one in the country 23 years ago, so it no doubt got flogged by every dealer around as it made its way north through each different branch before it ended up in Auckland. Cameron has owned his NSX for 15 years now, and over this time the vehicle has progressed from a completely factory vehicle to something you can drive to the track and back with confidence. With KW coilover suspension, O.Z Racing wheels, NSX-R gearbox internals, and an array of carbon to help shed weight, this NSX looked very quick out on the track.

Another NSX that had everybody talking was Fraser Simpson's project, which was even on the cover of NZ Performance Car magazine Issue No. 183. Originally automatic, this NSX is now far from what it was when it was imported, and now sports so much carbon that even with the heavy roll cage it still weighs the same as a factory model. Hoosier slicks gave the NSX the grip to match the aero and also keeps tyre air pressure rises to a minimum. Next up was the incredible sound from the naturally aspirated V6 engine — you really had to be there to believe just how stunning it was. Fraser plans on replacing any leftover factory panels with carbon fibre, as the results from reducing weight, so far, have been staggering. Take the front bumper for example: complete with splitter the unit weighs in at 1.3kg. There are plans to add two turbos to the V6 engine and Fraser hopes to reach a responsive 450kW (600hp), which should see him humming along nicely.

Matt Edwards was out in full force with his Honda Civic EK, putting his H2B set-up to work. The EK has even bigger brakes than when it was featured in Issue No. 214 of NZ Performance Car and a new set of lightweight Enkei wheels. The 156kW-at-the-wheels H22A engine didn’t miss a beat throughout the day, which still amazes me as it was an engine from a scrapyard vehicle that he purchased for a steal years ago.

Colin Cosmas Abah was out in the Jtune Honda S2000 once again, making sure to get as much seat time as possible on the Taupo circuit. The Stroked F20C, which is now a F24, boasts 175kW at the wheels thanks to some serious tuning completed in-house at JTune Automotive. Colin drove like an animal all day, making the most of the large Spoon calipers and grippy Hankook semis. It’s this kind of testing that is essential for Jtune to stay on top of their game in the tuning world, and what a refreshing sight to see someone like Colin offer advice and knowledge on the day to people with less experience.  

René Vermeer

Dutch, French, or just a Kiwi, René isn’t quite sure, but he does know he has a passion for Japanese vehicles like no other. A well-seasoned Gran Turismo player dating back to his single-digit days, René has a comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of performance vehicles and has owned more than 30 performance cars here in New Zealand, ranging from Nissans to Hondas. A lover of photography, you’ll find him either peeping under someone’s bonnet to snap a detailed shot, or on the side of the racetrack, perfecting his panning.