What If? Quick Take: 2010 Honda S2000 Type R

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Abimelec Arellano

Welcome to What If? Quick Take, a new feature from imaginative illustrator Abimelec Arellano and Hagerty. While the cars shown in our regular What If? features are full 3D renderings and can appear in any number of images, the Quick Takes are off-the-cuff expressions of Abimelec’s imagination. Each one is accompanied by a short story. Enjoy! — Jack Baruth

Even from five hundred feet away, Mikey’s megawatt grin beneath the visor of his Bell open-face said it all. Then the announcer confirmed it: “And that run from Michael Bonner in the #197 Honda puts in him second place for the day… That’s it for A Stock, folks.” Jim ran over to their parking spot to meet his little brother, who was still ear-to-ear as he brought the S2000 to a halt.

“How far off was I?”

“Sixty-two,” Jim replied. Just sixty-two thousands of a second off the near-invincible Jadrice Toussaint in first place. It had been a roller coaster of a day. Four weeks ago, they hadn’t even taken delivery of their S2000 Type R. From the moment Honda had announced the specs of the car — 62 pounds lighter than last year’s S2000 CR, wider wheels, lower gearing, and an astounding 268hp from a 1.9-liter version of the F20/F22 spinning deliriously to a 9700rpm redline — the Bonner brothers had known it would be a shoo-in for SCCA National Tour autocross glory. Most of their competition had bought S2000CRs in what was supposed to be the swan-song year for the “S2k”, not knowing that Honda would give the wicked-handling two-seater a twelve-month stay of execution.

Mike knew a dealer, and Jim had eight grand sitting in his bank account from a contract gig. That money disappeared into the general manager’s pocket and they were permitted to buy the store’s only Type R allocation at sticker price. It showed up a month before the first National Tour event of the year, which was in Atlanta. They ran their credit cards to the max for tires, a titanium swaybar, and two sets of custom wheels in the Type R’s exact offset plus the SCCA allowance.

Neither of them had heard a civil word from their wives in weeks.

Honda S2000 Type R
Abimelec Arellano

But this was Atlanta, baby! Their hopes of being the only Type R in the field were dashed the moment they arrived; Toussaint and his co-driver, a handsome but dour fundamentalist Christian named Pfannenschmidt, had one, as did three other teams. The rest of the field was in the old CR, except for one sad sack trying to make it happen in a Porsche 993 and sitting in the basement of 21st place for his trouble.

Jim ran well enough, picking up ninth for the day, but they’d been pinning their hopes on Mike for years now. Jim was just there to warm up the tires and take the first driver spot so Mike could run in the second driver group, where there was more rubber on the parking lot and more information available regarding the proper line to take, courtesy of watching the first drivers.

“Let’s hit the Varsity,” Mike said, so they drove their tow rig over to the massive downtown hotdog restaurant. It was just as crowded and loud and strangely thrilling as they expected it to be on a Saturday night. Their meals disappeared instantly; standing around in a parking lot chasing cones is more effort than you might think.

“Let’s get back to the room and review the video,” Jim said, standing up in what he hoped was preemptive fashion, “I want to get a better sense of where we are on front tire pressure.” Mike also stood up, but his eyes were open and burning with agitation.

“Nah, I got a better idea. Let’s go across the street.” They both knew what was across the street — the most famous strip club in the South.

“Come on, bro. I’m tired already. And we are flat broke from buying this car. Rachel has been screaming at me for weeks.”

“Dude,” Mike rapid-fire replied, “I’m sitting in second place. Tomorrow I’ll catch Toussaint and then we will have three grand in Hoosier contingency money. Let’s just go spend a G of it now.” Their argument was short and as always Mike won. As the older, bigger, and profoundly less charming brother, Jim was in the long habit of yielding.

Honda S2000 Type R rear end
Abimelec Arellano

“One hour. Or one thousand bucks. Whichever is first.” At the ATM across the street, Mike took out two grand — “just in case,” he laughed — and Jim took out one hundred. REMAINING BALANCE: $351.63, the machine chided him. The club was already crowded but they found a table. Jim walked around and tipped each girl a dollar out of sheer middle-class obligation. When he returned to the table, there was a gorgeous and oddly… suburban young woman on Mike’s lap.

“Jim, this is my friend Miranda. Well, her working name is Candy, but her real name is Miranda.” Jim was certain her real name was not Miranda; Mike was such a first-rate salesman he often didn’t realize when he was being sold. “We are going to head to the back for a bit. But don’t worry, I’m very conscious of your deadline.” They ran off laughing, hand in hand.

For the next ninety minutes, Jim watched the battery on his Blackberry 8830 “World Edition” dwindle as he turned down dancers, nursed a Coke that was long since down to ice, and had three slightly unpleasant conversations with various Pelle-Pelle-clad fellows who wanted his table “since you ain’t doing nothing with it, you know.” Then Mike and “Miranda” tumbled back into the seats.

“Listen,” Mike yelled over the thudding music, “Miranda and I are just going to run across the street to meet a friend of hers and do a bump. Also we have to find another ATM.”

“IT’S ELEVEN-THIRTY-TWO,” Jim shouted in response, “AND YOU’RE SPENDING MONEY YOU DON’T HAVE!” Mike grinned in benevolent, almost pitying, fashion.

“Dude, I’ve only spent half of my Hoosier money. Plus a little more. I’m not even going to tell Lucy about the Hoosier money when I get home. It’s a total wash. I can’t lose tomorrow. Did you see me hustle that Chicago Box earlier?” It was true: when Mike was on his game, almost nobody in the world could steer a car like he could.

“PLEASE,” Jim shouted by way of acceptance, “ONE MORE HOUR. THAT’S IT.” The next time a group of young men came to the table, he yielded gracefully. Around one-fifteen he went outside and sat on the curb. His Blackberry was dead, but the street was alive with cars, people, music. Jim felt disconnected from all of it.

Around three in the morning, a blue Grand Am pulled up and Mike jumped out, red-faced and buzzing. Jim led him sullenly to their truck. “Okay,” Mike was saying, mostly to himself but in an outdoor voice, “I’m down $4300. But I can’t lose tomorrow. Then I’m down $300. Anybody could spend $300 for any reason. Anybody could. Spend the money. Three hundred. Just say we went to Ruth’s Chris. Have to celebrate a victory. Spent forty-three. Gonna win forty. Have to account for three. It’s not a problem. Not a problem. Jim, it’s not a problem. Ah, Miranda was lovely. And she had a friend. I don’t regret that. Don’t regret it all. Do I have my wallet? I have my wallet. Do I have my socks? I do not have my socks. Jim, we need to go sock shopping.”

“You,” Jim spat in response, “have socks at the hotel.” Pointing out Mike’s contingency-money miscalculation seemed like a waste of time.

“Can’t go to the hotel. Gotta walk the course. Course opens in two hours. We shouldn’t sleep. That sets you back. Resets the clock. Jim, we need to account for the three hundred dollars.”

“I have just over three hundred dollars in my bank account,” Jim snapped, meaning to chastise Mike, but…

“Okay, good, good. You loan me the three hundred dollars. When have I ever not repaid you?”

“We don’t have that kind of time, to talk about that. I’m going to the hotel, and so are you.” Jim was out the minute he sat on the bed. About ninety minutes later, Mike was shaking him awake, looking crystal-bright and crystal-sharp.

“Put on a new shirt, people will think you were out all night.” On the way to the stadium parking lot where the Tour event would be held, Mike looked like he could beat Jadrice Toussaint by two seconds, but during the course walk he visibly faded to grey. Luckily, they would get to drive before they had to work the course. As Jim did pressures on the Type R’s tires, Mike snoozed in the passenger seat.

Jim’s first two runs weren’t great, but he had a sense of what was necessary. At the line he slipped the Honda’s finicky clutch at 3100rpm. Please don’t blow the diff, he prayed. Every serious S2000 autocross team traveled with a spare differential, but he and Mike didn’t have one. Thankfully the car hooked and catapulted him towards the first cone gate. And then it was like he was a different, better driver. Out of the slalom he was seized by the idea that he could go for third gear before the “Chicago Box” cone feature, and holy cow he grabbed it and picked up another 2-3mph before the brake zone.

When he crossed the line he was in second place. Overall.

It wouldn’t last, of course. All the usual suspects — Toussaint, Isley, the other second drivers — would take it away. But he was briefly, if not quite truthfully, in possession of an SCCA National trophy.

Mike was asleep in the car again when Jim woke him. “Time already? Oh man, my eyes have spikes in them. I lost my Oakleys. Give me your glasses. No wait, they’re prescription. I can’t see, Jim.” Mike’s first run was nothing but a course tour. He slept for the next fifteen minutes while Jim jacked up the car and cleaned the tires. The second run was even worse. But as Mike rolled up to the line for the final attempt, Jim thought he could see his brother smiling. This was it. One good run. Toussaint hadn’t looked brilliant. Mike could do it.

Thirty-eight seconds later, he went backwards through the Chicago Box so hard that one of the flying cones hit a course worker in the face and knocked her down. Mike returned to their grid spot without his helmet, having thrown it out of the car at some point.

“Let’s get out of here.”

“Mike… we still have to work the course.”

“Oh, God, you’re right. How did we do?” Jim jogged to the time sheets. Astoundingly, his own combined time for the two days was fifth overall! No Hoosier money, and no trophy, but… fifth! His best-ever National Tour finish, in the most competitive class anyone could remember.

Mike was ninth. And asleep in the car when Jim returned. Rather than wake him up, Jim sat down in the Honda next to him and remembered what their mother had once said to him, in the Challenger Deep of her manic depression: “Jim, you’ll never amount to anything. You’re not handsome, you’re awkward, and people don’t like you. So you have to protect Mike. He’s the one who has a chance.” Picking up his recharged BlackBerry, Jim dialed his wife.

“Honey… yes, yes, I know. I’m sorry. I wouldn’t call, but… something terrible happened. We were at the Varsity and… someone stole Mike’s wallet. Can you have Lucy check to see if they took out any money with his card?”

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