Tim Minsker’s No-Holds-Barred 1,200HP Drag Civic Pushes the Boundaries of the Platform

Photography: Garret Transue

  • Despite the platform being nearly 30 years old, there is an incredibly strong interest in interpreting the chassis in a multitude of ways: motorsport, show, and factory restoration.
  • Tim Minsker is a Honda loyalist who made extracting speed from the company’s sport compact lineup his calling card.
  • Minsker’s Civic was the beneficiary of Schmuck Built fabrication and a slew of Vibrant Performance components that help tie everything together.
  • The eight-second Civic was a recent resident at Turn 14 Distribution’s lobby where racing fans could admire all of the car’s details up close.

What’s one word you’d use to describe someone who adds nearly eight times the factory horsepower to a car? That answer (and the severity of the word itself) might change depending on whether you’re asked the question before, during, or after you ride in a 1,200-horsepower rocket that, from the factory, was only designed to cope with 160. It’s a wild transformation. But it’s one that Tim Minsker has tackled on multiple occasions; this time, with an Electron Blue Pearl EM1 Civic Si.


I say that last sentence with fond memories; the sound of a B-series hitting VTEC will always hold a special place in my heart. Some of my friends in high school had them new and I achingly admired how cool they were, especially after they started modding them with cold air intakes, exhausts, and the like before showing them off at Hot Import Nights. But what we’re talking about here is a very different proposition; Minsker’s EM1 was built for a singular purpose: to go extremely fast.


The mod list is too long to mention, but the method by which Minsker has transformed a Civic into a 200-mile-an-hour monster is familiar. The first step was getting Schmuck Built involved in the project. To call him a local hero wouldn’t do him justice; although he’s worked his magic on several notable PA-based machines, his fabrication talents have graced so many incredible Honda projects throughout the country. The second was gathering support from Vibrant Performance, a name synonymous with creative builders. It has been manufacturing products that help turn engineering problems into solutions since its inception. The Canada-based company would be a crucial add-on for Minsker to achieve his high-horsepower goals. The last crucial piece would come from Minsker himself. After all, shooting a 1,200hp car down the barrel of a drag strip is no easy task and it takes tremendous skill (and guts) to keep your right foot buried against the firewall. This, paired with Tim’s ultimate vision for how extreme he’d want this EM1 to become were pivotal.

The total equation led to the incredible result you see here. Parked under the lights in Turn 14 Distribution’s lobby gave us the rare opportunity to admire this car stationary. While this example looks very different than the EM1s I see in my memory, I have the utmost respect for what this machine can do on the strip.


There was no better way to get inside the mind of a builder than to sit down with him one-on-one. Tim graciously took a few minutes out of his day to talk about what got him here — from his history in cars to what happened to his EG drag car — and what the future has in store for his EM1.

I’m originally from Chicago, but one of the first things I learned about PA was its vibrant drag racing scene. Talk to us about your history with the scene and what led you into it.
I was a big skateboarder and mainly that was all I cared about. I always liked cars growing up but never really got into them until a few years before I could drive in the early 2000s. My first car was actually an S10 Blazer that my dad and I V8 swapped. My second started my love for Hondas: a 93 Civic Si which I still have. It went from a daily driver in high school to an eight-second track car. My buddies and I would go to a local track night on Fridays after school a few times a month and ever since then I’ve been going to the track regularly. I got into competitive racing back when my Civic was running an 11.50 index. Naturally, you always want to go faster and then it turned into a full track car that ran 8s in the quarter mile.

What was compelling to make a Civic your chosen drag car? Were there any others that you considered at one point?
I built the Civic because it was what I had and what I knew the best. I love Chevy trucks (and have built a few fast ones), but I knew more people in the import industry, so it was easier for me to see what worked.

Your Civic is no ordinary build. Did you always know you were going to go all out on it? Or was there a tipping point that made it go from mild to wild?
I never intended for my Civic to be what it is. An EG hatch was my daily driver in high school, then it sat for about five years in my yard as a shell because I blew up my engine. I never stuck one back in because the car needed work on the body as well.

Eventually, I started doing the bodywork and painted it. I stuck a stock bottom-end b20 in it with a stock b16 head and put it back on the road. From there, it was all about going faster. I put a turbo kit on and ran 11.50 with it. The next season, we turned it up the boost and I ran 10.7, but cracked a sleeve. I bought a GS-R bottom end, sleeved it, and built it and it made 850 hp on a 6766 turbo back in 2013. The new setup ran 10.50 index until I  got my NHRA license so I could turn the car up and go faster.

I blew the 6766 turbo up and went to a 6785. We tried for a whole season to get the car to run an 8 but we were stuck at a 9.0. To break the threshold, I decided to go with a billet rod bottom end and change some other things. Before I knew it, we cracked off an eight-second pass.

Then, in 2017, I crashed my EG at the World Cup Finals during a qualifying run in True Street class. I was the number two qualifier at the time, and in the middle of another pass, the engine blew up and sent me into the wall. It took me two years to build another car which is the blue EM1 I race today.

Looking back into our archive, this isn’t the first time you’ve worked with Schmuck Built on a Civic. Talk to us about Schmuck and how it has helped you through the years.
My first Civic (the green EG Schmuck did my SFWD turbo kit setup on) was over ten years ago. Ever since, we have had a great business/friendship. He always did quality work and treated me great. So when I built the new car, it was a no-brainer to have him do all the fabrication work on that car, too. He played a big part in making the car what it is today and he is a local guy so anytime I need something he’s right there to help out.

There’s a lot of Vibrant Performance on the car. How has the brand helped you extract more from the platform and ultimately achieve your goals?
It’s a long list. Basically, every fitting and hose on the car, intercooler core, intercooler piping, HD clamps and couplers, T-bolt clamps, stainless piping for the exhaust, and a few other parts are all from Vibrant. So without them, and the support from them, the car wouldn’t be where it is either.

What’s something on the car that you’re especially proud of? Anything cool that an enthusiast may not know about?
Probably the coolest thing on the car is the intake manifold. It was the first one made by SMS CNC for a B-series engine, and currently the only one in the world from them.

Let’s talk output. What does your Civic produce now? Any accolades that you’d want our audience to know about?
On the 6785 turbo, the car makes about 1200 hp or so. The car went an 8.41 so far at 179 mph. We recently made some changes to the computer setup and added other parts to try and get it in the low 8s (possibly high 7s) on the 6785. We will eventually switch to a 73mm turbo to keep up with everyone else in the class.

What keeps you busy outside of the car?
Outside of the car, my shop keeps me busy during the day, and my wife and daughters keep me busy when I’m not working or racing. I just like building cool cars, going fast, and supporting my family in their activities.

Thank you to Tim Minster for taking the time to chat with us about the build. To keep up with Minsker’s motorsport activities, follow him on Instagram.