Most racers who want to run deep into the seven-second range in drag racing will go out and find a light chassis, shoehorn in a big motor, add a power adder or two, and call it a day. But Indiana native Carey Bales is not most racers. Taking a small car with a small displacement motor, Bales has run deep into the sevens. Oh, and did we mention it was an import?
Every racecar has a story, and the tale of Bales and his S2000 started back in 2008 as a simple new-to-him car purchase. The Honda was originally intended to be nothing more than a daily driver with some pep. “It already had a nice slew of modifications and ran in the 11s in the quarter-mile at that time,” said Bales. Over the next year, the S2000 served as a daily, but started to get additional mods, and soon was running in the 9.90s in the quarter.
But a year of running in the nine-second zone on pump gas, street tires, and all while being daily-driven started to take its toll on the car. “Throughout that time we were occasionally breaking transmissions and rear ends in the car, so in the winter of 2009 we decided to build a “bolt-in” nine-inch for the car,” says Bales, and so began the path to seven-second glory. Upgrades began to flow like water into the little S2000, including a full 25.2 certified chassis and a clutchless five-speed transmission. Bales was going all-in at this point.
After two years of work, long hours, and lots of cubic dollars, the S2000 was finally ready. The car made its debut and began to run a string of high seven-second passes on a stock chassis, with 26-inch tires, no wing, no wheelie bars, and only 132 cubic inches of boosted displacement under the hood.
This Honda has some high level pedigree to it, as at one point, it was quickest and fastest car in NHRA Super Stock history, running a 7.92 at 174 during the 2012 U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Now Bales has stepped up to the cut throat world of NHRA Competition Eliminator where you see everything from wild, small displacement Altereds to Pro Mods competing on an index format.
This past season, the S2000 also went some rounds in the Heavy Street class at the Shakedown at the Summit in Norwalk, taking on the big tire V8 cars in heads-up competition. If that wasn’t enough, Bales also makes the trek out to the Import vs Domestic World Cup in Maryland each fall to compete in the always-exciting X275 versus Hot Rod class. Bales and his Honda truly live the mantra of, ‘get in where you fit in’, by racing anytime, any place, and anywhere he can.
Bales is currently the only four- or six-cylinder car on 8.5-inch tires to run in the sevens and could become the first in the six-second range in the future. To begin his attempt at the sixes, Bales took his car to Carl Stevens at Xtreme Race Cars over the winter for some heavy duty chassis and suspension upgrades.
“XRC went through my chassis and changed a bunch of stuff and tested with us. They ironed out all of the chassis bugs and the car is now ready to really have the power put to it,” says Bales. “It’s a short wheelbase, high horsepower, small tire car, so it’s nice to have someone with the knowledge of XRC to get this car down the track.” With the assistance of XRC, Bales has put up some stout numbers in recent months, running a best of 4.72 at 150 in the eighth-mile and a 7.49 at 182 out the back door in the quarter-mile, with plenty of room to turn the S2000 up even more.
Powering the S2000 piloted by Bales is a very unique and stout mill built by Jeremy Allen of InlinePro in Springfield Virginia. The stock displacement of 132 cubic inches along with the stock block are the base for the build that has a 3.425-inch by 3.571-inch bore and stroke. A stock crankshaft supports the rotating assembly that consists of custom InlinePro connecting rods and CP pistons with a final boost-friendly compression ratio of 9:1.
Bales and his Honda truly live the mantra of, “get in where you fit in”, by racing anytime, any place, and anywhere he can.
Controlling the S2000’s heart is an AEM Infinity unit that’s tuned by Devin Pearce. A mechanical Aeromotive fuel pump pushes the methanol to a Weldon fuel regulator as the backbone of the fuel system. Feeding the fuel into the Kinsler intake are ID2000s from Injector Dynamics with two of these per cylinder to get enough fuel flowing to the engine. Providing fire to the engine is a set of AEM Smart Coils (one per cylinder), a set of Firecore wires, and NGK Iridium spark plugs.
The boost for the InlinePro powerplant starts with a Full-Race twin scroll front mount manifold. A Borg Warner 76mm Airwerks turbo makes the 20-plus psi of boost that motivates the S2000 into the sevens. The turbo is supported by three-inch hot and cold side tubing with exhaust being expelled through a Nth Moto four-inch downpipe. Because the car runs on methanol, there’s no intercooler required to keep the incoming air cool. A Tial wastegate and blowoff valve help to keep all the boost in check on each pass. With everything added together, this turbo and engine combo make well over 1,300 horsepower to the tires.
One of the things that makes Bales’ S2000 really badass is the fact he still rows the gears. To address the issues of breaking transmissions, a G-Force five-speed with an off-the-shelf Boninfante clutch was bolted up behind the engine. A Long V-Gate shifter delivers the orders from Bales to shift through the five forward gears.
Getting a small tire car to hook is important for quick elapsed times, but when it has the wheelbase of a go-kart and leaves at astronomical rpm’s, suspension becomes critical to get down the track. Bales tasked XRC to come up with a solution for his need to get power down in the most efficient way possible. Stevens and the XRC team came up with a killer four-link setup matched with their fabricated nine-inch rear end, heavy duty anti-roll bar, and Penske shocks. The rear end has all Strange Engineering parts inside including center section, spool, and 40-spline axles.
The front suspension uses the stock-style upper and lower control arms still, but gone are the OEM dampeners and in their place are a set of Santhuff shocks. Bringing the car to a stop and reducing the un-sprung weight is a full complement of Strange brakes at all four corners.
The interior of Bales’ S2000 is far from being spartan and gutted — it still has the factory dash, floor pans, door panels, and even power windows. All of the original HVAC controls remain in their OEM places, but the stock gauge cluster has been replaced with a Racepak unit to help Bales monitor the car’s vitals.
Being able to build and campaign a seven-second race car is far from an easy task, and doing it with a quarter of the displacement most do it with is extremely rare. Carey Bales and his S2000 have blazed a path that most wouldn’t think is possible with such a combination in the drag racing world. Being able to compete at the highest levels of NHRA class racing and mix it up in the small tire heads-up world also isn’t something many can claim, let alone do it behind the wheel of a Honda. Remember the next time you see an import at the drag strip, don’t dismiss it as slow — it might be packing a powerful hammer and know how to use it.