It all comes down to one race in October for Napa’s Rob Krider, who is chasing a national championship in the Honda Challenge road racing series.
Krider has battled on track all year in the tightly competitive National Auto Sport Association racing series as he struggled to find his groove with a new team, Double Nickel Nine Motorsports of Del Rey, Calif.
A years’ worth of vehicle development work and car preparation for the team will come down to a 45-minute sprint race at Buttonwillow Raceway against the top Honda Challenge drivers in the country.
The question that remains is, who will win?
“We are going to win,” Krider said.
That could be considered an overly confident statement coming from a driver who failed to win a race all season. But Rob doesn’t seemed too concerned about that, since the car he will be driving in the Nationals will be a freshly constructed Acura Integra developed by DNN Motorsports.
“We spent the entire season racing in the NASA SoCal Regional Championship series, testing different parts and car setups in a backup car,” he noted. “A lot of that testing was at Buttonwillow Raceway, where the nationals will be held. And while doing all of that, we ended up neck and neck in points for the regional championship.
“Now we will be bringing out the ‘A car,’ the car that has everything we learned all year long to the big show. Nobody in Honda Challenge has seen our speed in this new car, and I’m hoping all they see is my rear bumper.”
Because the NASA Western States National Championship will be held in Southern California, the points from that race will go toward the NASA SoCal Regional Championship as well. The race is essentially the 11th round of the SoCal racing series, meaning Krider needs to finish first to have a chance to win both the national championship and NASA SoCal Regional Championship.
Krider’s opinion on the points chase is quite literal.
“It’s not difficult,” he said. “Just drive fast, stay in front of everyone else, take the checkered flag first, and win the race. Poof, you’re the champion.”
Automotive racing is a little more complicated than that, with hundreds of moving parts inside a vehicle that need to work together efficiently to ensure the car finishes the race. That is where Napa businesses have come together to ensure the new car is built to perform.
The engine was hand built by Rich Olivier at TEM Machine Shop. Using years of experience building high-performance engines, Olivier put together an engine combination that will provide plenty of power for the race.
“I built the engine knowing that Rob is very hard on race motors,” Olivier said. “He has a few grenaded engines on his racing resume — which he is actually proud of! This motor was built strong and fast for the nationals. He should be fine.”
Once the new engine was completed, the car went to Aj Gracy at Performance In-Frame Tuning to get the powertrain finalized. He would connect the standalone AEM Infinity engine computer to the digital Racepak dashboard to the TEM Machine Shop engine and make it all work flawlessly.
If that sounds complicated, that’s because it is. Gracy skipped using his socket set to work on the car, and concentrated on his laptop computer to program the coding that would ensure the car worked at maximum performance.
“Our car spent five long days at Aj’s shop,” Krider said. “Everyone there really worked hard on the car, Aj, plus Dan ‘Gadget’ Bordeau, Mark Gracy and Chris Rodrigues. They all busted their butts. That car was wrenched on relentlessly from 8 a.m. to 10 o’clock at night, 14 hours a day, for a week straight. Every time we would run into an issue on the car, these guys would put their heads together and come up with a brilliant solution.
“It was phenomenal to see them work. I learned an enormous amount just from being at the shop while the car was developed. Most of the time I was just in the way, so they would send me out to buy nuts and bolts and pick up pizzas. I was happy to do it because they were making the car better every day.”
The car went from Performance In-Frame Tuning down a few doors to Napa Valley Muffler, where Steve Cardwell welded a custom racing exhaust system to the team’s Acura.
“The car is loud and mean,” said Rob’s dad, Jim Krider. “I can’t wait to see how fast this thing is when they test it on track. I’ve got a good feeling about this.”
The team will head down to Buttonwillow for one more test in mid-September before the national nhampionship race there in October.
“There are few more parts we want to play with before the big race,” Rob Krider said. “We have some custom power steering delete lines from Devsport to try, some different tuning options with the AEM Infinity computer, as well as some shock settings with our Motion Control Suspension dampeners. Once those are dialed in we should be ready to put a fresh set of Toyo Tires on the car and race hard in October.”
The team will also test running two cars at the same event with Keith Kramer driving the B car.
“We will run two cars,” Rob Krider said. “This will ensure if anything happens with one car, DNN Motorsports still has a car in the fight. Two cars equals double the odds to win.”
Everything seems to be going to plan for Krider and DNN Motorsports as they prepare for the nationals, but in racing, few things usually go as planned. Rob, who has been driving competitively since he was old enough to reach the pedals of a car understands that.
“I know the whole thing can go up in smoke and dented metal in the first corner,” he said. “Growing up a part of Krider Racing, I’ve seen us standing on podiums. But I have also seen us upside down, on fire, and lying in beds in hospitals. I get the reality of it, but I just don’t think any group of people have worked harder than we have this year to be ready for the nationals. Most races are won back at the shop well before the race begins. We’ve done the shop time. Now it’s go fast time.”
Besides champagne and racing glory, there is also money on the line at the national championships. Honda Performance Development is supporting the Honda Challenge series by paying for each of the team’s entry fees as well as paying out $2,000 to the national champion. Toyo Tires is also paying money to the national champion, with $1,000 up for grabs. DNN Motorsports is hoping to pick up all of that cash. Of course, every other major Honda Challenge racing team in the country is hoping for the same thing.
Double Nickel Nine Motorsports is supported by TEM Machine Shop, Performance In-Frame Tuning, Napa Valley Muffler, B&G Tires, Smart Racing Products, Devsport, Driven steering wheels, Hasport motor mounts, Motion Control Suspensions, I/O Port Racing Supplies, ProSpeed RS 683 brake fluid, Chase Bays, Hardrace, Unorthodox Racing, AEM, Carbotech performance brakes, Toyo Tires, Economy Stock Feed, Insane Shafts, Autopower, Synchrotech Transmissions, Phase2Motortrend, J&B Farms, Kenclaire (West) Electrical, Cadet Blues the novel, Bay Ex, Sampson Racing Communications, Olson Auto Body, Honda Racing, and Tactical Ops Brewing.
Visit www.team559.com for more on the Double Nickel Nine Motorsports team.