The Acura Integra quickly became a hero model for both Acura and Honda fans alike. Heck, today, minty fresh examples command pretty stellar price tags. Back in the early oughties, however, the Integra Type R wasn’t just a pocket rocket for the street — it was mean racing machine, too.
I’m talking about theIntegra Type R, which remains a legend almost two decades after Peter Cunningham drove the car to victory for a driver’s and manufacturer’s title in 2002. Yet, the hills outside Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, were once again alive with the sound of VTEC music at the WeatherTech International Challenge vintage race this past July. There, the RealTime Racing Integra Type R returned.
Acura kept its return a secret until the company dropped a wonderful video highlighting the race car’s history and its first on-track performance since 2002. These days, the Integra Type R is a fully restored machine and saw plenty of blood, sweat and probably tears to bring it back to life.
Its return to the track at Road America this summer saw a familiar driver also climb back behind the wheel. Cunningham drove the race car to qualify and finish in fourth place out of field of 60 vintage race cars. Judging by the smile on his face, it appears the two never skipped a beat.
To say the economy-car-turned-racing-machine was a stellar performer in its heyday (and even today) is an understatement. RealTime Racing had already been racing Acuras and Hondas for awhile before the Integra Type R presented itself as a wonderful touring car contender. Upon delivery, the team only needed to update a handful of components to racing specifications, such as the shocks, safety equipment and a bare-bones interior. Incredibly, the transmission was even stock.
That, friends, is a testament to the Integra Type R’s prowess. To this day, no other touring car has touched the RealTime Racing Integra Type R’s five driver’s championships and four manufacturer’s championships. Its fourth-place finish in a crowded and diverse field of race cars highlights, circles and underlines just what kind of machine this car was. One might even say this car powered the dreams of RealTime Racing for multiple seasons. That’s what Hondas are supposed to do, after all.