Starting in 1993, Peter “P.D.” Cunningham and his racing team, RealTime Racing (RTR), began an impressive run of wins that have been unmatched in the annals of racing. Cunningham and RTR were amazingly successful, first with Hondas and later with Acuras.
The car that started it all was a Gen 4 1992 Honda Prelude Si; it was the 24th Prelude to come off the line, built in August 1991, with the VIN 000024. After serving a tour of duty as a press car for American Honda, the car was turned over to Cunningham and RTR, and became the team’s first purpose-built race car. (Prior to VIN 000024, RTR had raced showroom-stock cars that basically competed with welded-in roll cages and a few other safety improvements.) When Cunningham switched to racing an Acura NSX GT in 1996, RTR hired four-time SCCA Club Racing National Champion Michael Galati to take over campaigning VIN 000024.
Behind the wheel of 000024, Galati won both the Rookie-of-the-Year title along with his first World Challenge Drivers’ Championship. Together, Cunningham and Galati went on to enjoy additional successes in the World Challenge series, eventually becoming the two winningest Drivers’ Champions in the history of the series, with seven and five titles, respectively. As a result, the pedigree of VIN 000024 meant a lot to Cunningham, Galati, and the team.
Racers, however, do not have the luxury of being sentimental when chasing the checkered flag. “Throughout the years, when a car model we were racing went out of production, we moved on to whatever new platform there was as the next logical choice for competition,” Cunningham explains. “So when the Gen 4 Prelude was no longer available in the showroom after 1996, we went with the new 1997 Acura Integra Type R. But to help pay for the build of the Integras, we sold off the old Preludes because we didn’t need them anymore and we needed the money to help fund the team.”
As a result, VIN 000024 was sold after the 1997 season.
Fast-forward to 2015 or so. Cunningham had founded RealTime Collection Hall—an assemblage of RealTime Racing’s competition vehicles and other classic Hondas—and was purchasing cars for it in earnest. Cunningham had even managed to track down the remaining former RTR Acura Integra Type R.
“As we were amassing the street Hondas, we wanted to bring back our old race cars to add to the collection,” Cunningham says. “We managed to procure one successful example of every old model that RealTime competed with, but we lost touch with our best Prelude. I had friends helping me comb the continent to try and find it, but it was just gone!”
Then, about a year ago, while the Type R was undergoing restoration and started getting attention on social media, Cunningham got a message on Facebook from a gentleman named Scott Kordos. Kordos had been following the restoration of the Type R and mentioned that he might know the location of one of the team’s old Preludes. Kordos had served on the racing crew of this Prelude years before and thought Cunningham might be interested. The car had been stored in a heated and air-conditioned garage in Cleveland, Ohio, for 15 years.
“Initially, we weren’t sure if it was VIN 000024,” recalls Cunningham. “But once we determined that it was, we knew we had to try and bring it home.” Unlike the Integra Type R rebuild, the availability of new old stock (NOS) parts for this Prelude was nonexistent. As a result, many of the existing parts had to be media blasted and repainted instead.
After a complete restoration, this storied Prelude is back on track, looking very similar to the way it did back in 1995. Cunningham entered the car in the WeatherTech International Challenge vintage races at Road America in July 2020 and enjoyed climbing back behind the wheel, 25 years after his first World Challenge title. Now with current-generation DOT Hoosier tires, the RealTime No. 42 Prelude set times three seconds faster than in the old days, circling the 4.048-mile circuit in the 2:38 bracket for an average speed of 92 mph.
“While it’s not a Carroll Shelby/Ken Miles Mustang GT350R, the Prelude is pretty special to us,” concludes Cunningham. “It’s great having this car that is so important to our history in our collection.”