Some sad news in the world of import racing came last Thursday, when it was announced that Speedfactory Racing’s world record-holding EG Civic was destroyed in a crash. What’s even more tragic, it was wrecked in a final world record attempt before they planned to retire the vehicle this year. Fortunately driver James Kempf is alive, though hospitalized, but the car has been completely destroyed.
The Speedfactory Civic is famous in the world of drag racing. At the time of the collision, it held the world record for World’s Fastest FWD car with a quarter-mile time of 7.47 seconds at 215.48 mph. However, that doesn’t even come close to describing the car’s accomplishments. Kempf and his Civic have changed the world of drag racing entirely.
The Civic’s exploits spans 12 years, an eon in the world of drag racing. When Speedfactory first started to set records, it was during a revival in import drag racing right after the global financial crisis of 2008. While the records for the first single-digit passes in FWD cars were accomplished with fully tube framed vehicles with wheelie bars in the early 2000s, fans began to turn towards independent shops who were making moves in the SFWD class, loosely defined as Street Front Wheel Drive cars. The popularity of these vehicles reached a fever pitch as the recession leveled the playing field financially, and the tube frame monsters of the early 2000s began to disappear.
In 2008, Englishtown Raceway held the Outlaw Shootout, which required a factory chassis with functional doors and included several other rules designed to make cars in the series very similar to street-legal cars. The terminology would eventually be adopted across the import drag world as Outlaw Class, a more refined description of what SFWD cars were.
Honda Tuning magazine saw itself weather the recession partially due to the tales of these vehicles. Records were set and demolished nearly monthly in the import drag racing world. During this time a small tuning shop from Tacoma, Washington began to gain notoriety with their EG hatch coming out of left field and quickly becoming one of the nation’s fastest Hondas.
While Tony Palo and T1 Race Development first broke into the 8-second range with an SFWD car, it was James Kempf and the Speedfactory Civic who took that mantle and ran with it. In 2012, their 350,000-mile EG Civic was the first in the 8.20s with a time of 8.29 at 185.21 mph. They followed that up with several slower passes that had a trap speed in the 190 MPH range.
As Speedfactory and James Kempf dialed in the Civic, they found themselves knocking down barriers left and right. 8.20s, 8.10s, and 8.00s all fell to this team seemingly effortlessly. Then they broke into the massive 7-second range and began giving the world’s fastest GT-R a run for its money. That was merely a footnote however, as they soon broke down one of the most elusive barriers of FWD drag racing, surpassing 200 mph.
Their first pass over this mythical line was in 2014 at Honda Day in Atco, New Jersey. Then they hit 200 mph again at the 2016 Haltech World Finals at Maryland International Raceway, and for a little extra flavor reset the FWD record into the 7.60s. They had achieved with stock chassis a trap speed previously reserved for V8 muscle cars, Supras, and the highest echelon of AWD cars.
More recently AWD-swapped Hondas have begun giving the GT-Rs and Evos a run for their records, but to date none have been able to surpass Speedfactory’s EG Civic. It should be noted that neither NSX nor S2000 drag cars have been able to make a pass as fast as this Civic, making this the fastest Honda on a drag strip outright. If that isn’t impressive enough, we haven’t even mentioned the fact that this Civic accomplished all of this, not with a K-series engine, but with an old school B-series motor.
While we lament the loss of this truly groundbreaking vehicle we are relieved to hear that James Kempf survived the crash. Back-half collisions are some of the most dangerous at drag strips, given that the cars are at their fastest speeds. It is only exacerbated due to the fact that the Speedfactory Civic was known for having tremendous back-half capabilities.
James’s injuries include swelling in the right knee, three broken ribs, a broken scapula, punctured lung and bruised carotid artery. The largest point of concern is the carotid artery bruise due to the risk of stroke. James has since posted on social media that he only remembers bits and pieces of the run but he is expected to make a full recovery.
While the destruction of such a historic machine is a big blow, losing such a talented driver would have been a tragedy. Speedfactory will continue to race Hondas and have several other vehicles who currently hold various records. We wish James a speedy recovery and hope to see him out there setting more records with JNC-era Hondas soon.
List of records held by the Civic at time of writing:
- World’s fastest FWD car
- World’s Fastest Honda (FWD/RWD/AWD)
- World’s fastest H-Pattern manual transmission car
- World’s quickest and fastest stock unibody and non-wheelie barred FWD car
- First and only stock unibody FWD car to break the 200 mph barrier (achieved April 12, 2014)
- First stock unibody and non-wheelie barred FWD car to break into the 8.2, 8.1, 8.0, 7.9, 7.8, 7.7, 7.6, 7.5 and 7.4-second range