- Pit+Paddock enters the world of professional touring car racing by supporting a vehicle entry in the 2023 TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School Championship.
- Formula DRIFT and Pikes Peak International Hill Climb champion Dai Yoshihara will be the sole driver of the Pit+Paddock Honda Civic Type R TCX — a detuned version of the TCR-spec FK7/FK8 race car built by JAS Motorsport.
- The first weekend at Sonoma Raceway concluded with highs and lows as Yoshihara qualified on pole position, but was forced to retire early due to a transmission failure.
- With a new Sadev six-speed sequential gearbox on the way, Yoshihara aims to rebound in the next round at NOLA Motorsports Park on April 28-30.
It kind of flew under the radar last weekend, but on Saturday, April 1st, 2023, Pit+Paddock turned two years old! Normally, I’d be wearing my party hat and blowing out candles; however, our birthday was outshined by the announcement that we launched a campaign into road racing. To some folks, this might be a yawn. For us, it’s a big step up in the world, which is why I wanted to take a few minutes and explain why Pit+Paddock joined TC America.
MOTORSPORT IN OUR DNA
Two years ago, Pit+Paddock launched as “automotive media redefined”. Admittedly, many of us didn’t know what that meant, but hey, caterpillars take time to transform into a butterfly. At the jump, we were still an online magazine that published regular feature stories on insane custom builds, detailed product reviews, and relevant industry news. As the months transpired, however, our portfolio began to expand. We hosted more Cars+Coffee meets across the country, welcomed Dai Yoshihara as our official athlete, and for two years running, we’ve orchestrated one of the most extravagant outdoor booths the SEMA Show has ever seen. But there was a slight disconnect. Not knowing who we were, or the staff members that made up our team, you’d think that we were keen on publishing fancy photography articles and curating car show events.
But our name suggests, “Pit+Paddock” embodies motorsport. We’ve been slowly planting the seed to closely embrace that intent and the varied racing interests of our team. That work eventually led us to consider legitimate involvement in a professional racing series. That time has finally come: our athlete, Dai Yoshihara, entered the 2023 season of the TC America touring car series driving the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX!
I’m not the most versed journalist when it comes to reporting on road racing. The extent of my knowledge goes as far as playing Gran Turismo for hours on end as a kid, and only in the last few years, doing my best to catch a Formula One race on TV. As a boy that grew up around the import scene, my roots run deeper in time attack, drift, and drag racing. Some might say, “That’s cute and all”, but industry-wide, organized wheel-to-wheel road racing is considered to be the one “real” motorsport.
On this stage, the playing fields are leveled — not just limitations on tires, horsepower, and weight — we’re talking complete spec cars with manufacturer support. It’s where the man, machine, and entire crew need to perform flawlessly across an entire season. There’s a lot at stake; everyone involved must be consistent and exhibit incredible perseverance to win. It’s why you’ll notice OEMs invest billions of dollars into road racing, from the pinnacle of Formula 1 to a small grassroots series like TC America.
Operated by SRO Motorsports Group which hosts GT World Challenge and 24 Hours of Spa, TC America is a very specific series geared towards developing up-and-coming drivers as they get their feet wet in professional circuit racing. Now you might be asking yourself why a decorated driver like Dai Yoshihara is in this series. First, the more glamorous leagues like IMSA cost an insane amount of money. Racing has always been a bit of a rich man’s sport and we’re just a small startup here at Pit+Paddock!
The second reason is that while Dai has a cabinet full of trophies from his achievements in Formula DRIFT, Global Time Attack, and Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, he’s a rookie in this part of the motorsports world. As such, TC America was a good fit for his inaugural season. And remember what I said about how a caterpillar takes time to turn into a butterfly? That goes for Dai, too, as he aims to improve his craft as a more experienced driver.
NOT JUST A TYPE R
I’ll assume most of you don’t know much about the Pit+Paddock Honda Civic Type R TCX that Dai is driving. If you do, you get a pat on the back! If you don’t, then here’s a little 411…
On the outside, this FK8 might look like a relatable, modified street car. It has a wicked widebody conversion along with a front splitter, functional hood and bumper vents, and a towering rear wing. But in reality, it’s a full-fledged race car that’s sanctioned by Honda, engineered to meet the regulations of the worldwide TCR Touring Car series, and assembled by an official partner of Honda, JAS Motorsport in Italy.
In 2018, I was amongst a select group of lucky journalists that attended the reveal of the FK8 TCR at the Geneva International Motor Show. Two years later, Honda invited me to take a tour of JAS Motorsport facility based just outside of Milan. To sum up the experience would be tough, so let me just start by saying there are more hours of masterful work that goes into each one of these race cars than you’ll ever be able to come close to at home. The foundation is a rolling chassis sourced from a factory in the UK that manufactures the Civic Type R. Then, all the remaining pieces are sourced, assembled, machined, and fabricated by the expert hands of JAS magicians. This includes the seam-welding and development of all the chassis, cooling, electronics, and safety components.
The engine isn’t just a standard issue inline-four K-series; it has been prepped by Honda Performance Development (HPD). This more potent 340hp package is mated to a six-speed sequential transmission and tuned using MoTeC management. The horsepower figure might not seem like a lot on paper, but with 24-hour enduro races as part of the TCR Type R’s resume, it’s a stout, race-proven setup. One note: Dai’s Type R isn’t a true TCR; it has been detuned to fit the TCX class of TC America, which puts it up against the homologated BMW M2 CS Racing and other TCX-specific Type Rs.
Nevertheless, the TCR Type R’s track record and my own experience with the FK8 are just some of the reasons why I appreciate having Dai behind the wheel and seeing the Pit+Paddock logo adorned on the doors.
If you haven’t checked the results from Dai’s first race weekend at Sonoma Raceway, he demonstrated a class-leading pace, qualifying on pole position, and leading the first round for 15 minutes. Unfortunately, one of the most unlikely components of the Sevas sequential gearbox went out, forcing him to retire early and forfeit the second race. It was a huge bummer for him, but for all the parties involved (Pit+Paddock, ARP Bolts, ENEOS, Turn 14 Distribution, MBRP, PowerStop, and Advanced Clutch Technology), there is plenty of support to help Dai turn his season around.
The crew at Victor Gonzalez Racing Team has already assured us that two fresh transmissions are en route, and Dai will be ready to go for the second round at NOLA Motorsports Park on April 28-30.
There’s a lot to look forward to for both Dai as a driver, and Pit+Paddock as a motorsport partner. While Dai tells me he’s still getting comfortable with the CTR (Sonoma was only his second time behind the wheel), his outright pace was already very encouraging. He’s promised to put in a generous amount of simulator work so he can give ‘em hell at NOLA.
As for Pit+Paddock, we’re newbies to the series and will continue to cheer on Dai. We’ve organized a ticket giveaway for each round with the SRO Motorsports Group, so be on the lookout for announcements on Dai’s Instagram. We’re also in early talks of setting up a Pit+Paddock booth at an upcoming race, so stay tuned. If there’s one final thought I can conclude with, though, is that we are all very proud to help usher Dai into a new chapter in his career. We are constantly striving to evolve Pit+Paddock as a performance-driven media brand and that growth will always be inspired by motorsports.