If You Build It, They Will Come / Ravi Tomerlin's NSX
Ravi Tomerlin's Global Time Attack Acura NSX is the perfect example of what can happen when passion for racing and tight knit friendships collide.
You wouldn't know by talking to him or seeing him on the track, but Ravi Tomerlin hasn't spent his entire life racing cars. In fact, he didn't have much interest in cars, at all, until he needed a commuter car when he was 18. The story of his 1991 Acura NSX begins with an unsuspecting teenager and an Acura Integra.
When Ravi was 18 years old, he was in serious need of wheels to get from point A to B so he set out to find something within his budget. He managed to find a Vogue Silver Metallic 1997 Acura Integra for sale online and set up a time to purchase it, sight unseen. At this point, Ravi had little to no interest in racing and saw this car as merely a vessel for him to commute in. After exchanging cash for the title, he jumped in his new ride and promptly recognized that there was something different about this particular car. It had a manual transmission, which posed an issue for him because he had never driven one before. He had someplace to be, right away, so he did what anyone would do; he stalled and grinded his way to his destination and figured it out as he went!
As far as Ravi was concerned, the Integra was just a car. At that time though, the tuner scene was booming and you couldn't drive a block without seeing a number of customized versions of it on the roads. After owning the car for only a couple of weeks, the head gasket let loose on the freeway and his car was rendered disabled. With a repair manual and new head gasket in hand, he proceeded to do a roadside, 3-day, rehab.
Armed with the confidence that he could work on his car, his interest in tuning began to bud. He soon began modding the Acura and eventually loved driving it so much that he joined the Arizona chapter of NASA (National Auto Sport Association). He struck a deal with them that allowed him to trade time volunteering in exchange for track time.
His passion for tuner cars and racing steadily began to grow, and eventually led him on a quest to find the perfect track slayer. Along the way he acquired some legendary cars such as the Nissan R32, R33, S13, and eventually a Mazda RX-7 FD. He absolutely loved the FD, however its life was cut short just before Thanksgiving, 2009, when he was t-boned. The RX-7 was totaled beyond repair so he was going to need a new car. Having pretty much already owned the most popular cars of the time, he looked at the NSX as his next option. He managed to find a 1991 in Berlina Black and wasted no time cutting it loose on the track.
He continued to refine his racing skills, for the next 7 years, piloting the NSX but soon noticed the odometer climbing at an alarming rate as well as countless paint chips spreading on the front of the car. He loved the platform and needed an example that he could track without worrying about cosmetics or miles, so he set out to find another one.
In December of 2012 he honed in on a 1991 NSX that had been totaled and was being parted out in Ohio. He contacted the owner and struck a deal for all of the disassembled pieces and parts of the car under the condition that he pick it all up within a couple of days, in person. Not having much time to consider the deal, he grabbed a couple of buddies and they drove, in the dead of winter, from Arizona to Ohio.
The timeline was to be a tight one. They would leave on a Friday afternoon after each of them were off work, would drive 30 hours to Ohio, pick up the car, and drive back to Arizona in time to be at work Monday morning. This was an insanely tight timeline in extreme weather conditions! Since the NSX was in pieces, they also needed to assemble it, at least to a rolling chassis, in order to get it strapped down on the trailer. In record time, they pieced the car together as best they could and got it rolled onto the trailer. The exhausting trek lasted a total of 62 hours and they made it back to Arizona in time to get to work that following Monday morning. Exhausted from the trip, Ravi let the car sit in his garage for two weeks before taking on the daunting task of transforming a parts car into a race car.
Throughout the years, Ravi had become a significant part of the Arizona racing community and, in the process, had struck some pretty great friendships. He fell ill and it seemed that the car may have to sit on the back burner until his health improved. When the community caught wind of his situation, it seemed that everyone wanted to pitch in and help him get it completed. Friends and businesses threw parts and expertise at the NSX, and in record time the car was a running track car. To show his appreciation, he had everyone involved in the build, sign the dash of the car so he would never lose sight of the people that helped this project come to fruition.
As Ravi's heath improved he wasted no time testing the limits of this dedicated track demon. He took it to Time Attack two months later and won in its class. During the race he noticed there was something slightly off with how the car performed, so when he got it back home he put the car on a dyno and it only made about 170hp at the wheels. Seeing as how he was going to have to take the engine apart, he figure he might as well tighten it up a bit.
Faced with the decision about whether to keep the engine naturally aspirated or to go forced induction, his budget dictated the course. He had recently lost his job and din't have much money to put into the car so he decided to keep it N/A and reduce weight, rather than throw costly parts at it, to improve the HP to weight ratio.
During the rebuild at Coz Motorsports, the engine compression was increased to 12:1 and he added individual throttle bodies with velocity stacks. He helped it breathe with a free flowing exhaust setup and trimmed pounds by eliminating anything and everything that wasn't absolutely necessary. Relays were eliminated, the interior panels were removed, he cut plastic from the dash, and the wiring harness was trimmed down 27 pounds!
By the time it was all said and done the NSX weighed only 2,380 lbs with him in it and fuel in the cell and pumped out 323 horsepower at the wheels. A stock Miata weighs about 2,300 pounds so you can do the math; this car is nuts! Ravi and his sponsors campaigned the NSX in 2015 and won the class championship with it. He continues to refine the car and improve his skill behind the wheel while also serving as a NASA HPDE 3 Group Leader - where he mentors and coaches drivers wanting to advance to the next level. He has future plans to improve the performance of the NSX but you'll have to stay tuned, because he's not telling any details yet.
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