By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
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By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
He cruises back to Miami Subs and rises out of the car. "It's so good! It's so good!" he exults. "It's even more of a rush when you have someone next to you, and their car is just as fast or faster or real close. It's like a battle. You gotta fight to keep ahead of 'em."
A bald fellow with gold teeth, who recently lost a race to Gurley, advances and pissily seeks advice for increasing speed. Gurley good-naturedly opens his hood and dispenses some wisdom. He concludes by mentioning particular wheel rims.
"As long as I pass you, I don't give a fuck," mutters Gold Teeth, half-grudgingly, half-lustfully.
"That's the adrenaline rush," Gurley chuckles.
On a sweltering July afternoon, Ean Rollins adroitly lowers the rear suspension of a Mitsubishi Eclipse. "You want to keep it down for traction when you launch," he announces. Despite the nickname given him by South Florida import buffs, Honda Guy betrays no resentment working on a vehicle other than a holy Honda. Rollins labors six days a week as a mechanic and go-to guy here at Autotrix in Cooper City, which sells and installs performance parts.
Rollins is tall and lanky, and veins pop out on his arms and neck as he tugs and pushes on the coil springs. The 23-year-old is thoroughly pierced: rings at the top and bottom of both ears, the brow, the tongue. Colorful dragon tattoos cover the insides of his forearms. Beneath his greasy white T-shirt, however, is the body mod that says it all: the tattooed silhouette of a Honda.
"I got that about a year ago," he says, lifting the shirt to reveal a bellyful of greenish-blue Honda. "I was working at Autotrix in West Palm. My friend had a tattoo shop back then two or three stores down. I always wanted to get the tattoo, but my girlfriend was like 'No! No!' I wanted this particular car: the '92 to '95 Civic hatchback body style. One day after work, they were open late, we closed early ..." He chuckles. "I had the money on me. So I did it." Pressed about its cost, the Honda Guy feels sheepish. "Fifty dollars."
His enthusiasm reemerges quickly. "I like how this car looks," he extols. "The '92 to '95 Civic looks the best and has more potential than any car I've ever seen."
For all his current obsession with cars, Rollins, who grew up in Coral Springs, didn't even own one until he was 19 years old. Around then, he attended a car gathering at a local fast-food place where "the imports blew my mind," he says. "I saw a Civic beat a Mustang, and I thought that was the best thing in the world -- that that little four-cylinder could beat a big V-8." His enthusiasm led to a job at Autotrix in Tamarac.
"When I started to work here, I tried to stick to Hondas," Rollins says. "That's how people started to call me the Honda Guy: Every time they had a question about a Honda, I'd spit it out at 'em. I know all the little stupid things, like" -- here he reels off a list of Honda esoterica and acronyms that make the head spin.
"Any week, on any given night, I can go to a spot, whether in West Palm, Broward, or Miami, and there will be people out there just hanging out or racing. That's what I love doing, racing. The more people out there, the better. That's what I think.
"Most cars around here run in the low 14s, high 13s -- the ones that are daily-driven. There are guys who have two cars: the one they drive to work and then one they take out on weekends that do 11s or 10s. If you want to be one of the 13, 14 cars, you're going to spend about two grand, fifteen hundred, easily. The fastest [daily] guys around here are running low 13s and high 12s. That's pretty fast. You're crossing the quarter at over 100 mph at 13 seconds."
Perhaps because he so often assists the neophyte racer, Rollins is a horsepower didact. "There are three different ways to get a lot of power: all-motor, turbo and supercharge, or nitrous oxide," he explains. "Whatever you decide, you're going to need more fuel and more air to get more speed.
"All-motor is nothing but motor: install different pistons, shave the head, add stronger rods, polish the heads, get bigger valves."
Turbodrive comes stock on some cars, but can also be added later. Turbo is basically two fans -- one on the engine's exhaust port, the other at the air intake. As the car revs up, the exhaust turns the blades, which spin the other fan and force more air into the engine. With more air, you can add more fuel, which all results in a bigger bang in the engine and more horsepower. Supercharging is very similar, except that the fan forcing in the extra air-fuel mixture is belt-driven, much the same as a car's air conditioning.
Nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as laughing gas, is blown into the engine's cylinders from scuba-size tanks that are usually anchored in the trunk. During the combustion process, oxygen is released from the gas, which increases power by allowing more fuel to be burned. It also has a cooling effect.