If you’re somewhat into Honda’s then you will know about, or have at least heard of the “Y-49 Curse.” Y-49 is the color code for the yellow CRX, which has been dubbed by many as a cursed color. If you google “Y-49 curse” you will come across countless stories about how people that own yellow CRX’s with the color code Y-49 always have bad things mysteriously happening to their cars. There is even a whole community of owners that are called WHY-49, the group mainly is just ironic comedy about what terrible things have happened to each other cars. As you can see the world truly believes that these cars, in that color are cursed. For me though, I’m not really a superstitious person nor do I believe that there are such things as curses. I feel that the only thing that makes a curse relevant is the placebo or manifestation that goes along with it. If you never knew about a curse, and bad things randomly happened to your car you would just chalk it up as bad stuff happening to your car? But introduce the knowledge or belief of a curse and you now have something to blame the bad stuff on. Sometimes you just need to accept the fact that if you park your car outside and it gets hit by a trash truck, or a telephone pole falls on it, you shouldn’t have even been parking your car outside in the first place, because that is only stacking the odd against you for something bad to happen.
So is there such a thing as a NFR curse? Some people think there is, and I’m only talking in small numbers compared to the people that believe in the Y-49 curse. But I’m going to let you decide as we talk about all the setbacks that have happened to Patrick’s New Formula Red S2000 since he took ownership of it. Patrick purchased the car 8 months ago in San Jose CA, and along the drive back to Vegas he got a CEL. This turned out to be nothing, as it was reset and never came back on. but was it a sign of the NFR Curse? Within that time he has also tracked it 4 times. About 4 months ago I accompanied him on a trip to Buttonwillow raceway so that I could document what all goes into driving to an out of state event. This is where I witnessed firsthand the potential for there being a “NFR Curse.” Keep in mind that this was the 4th event he was doing on the car, and that the car came already with upgrades that you would need to do to an S2000 to keep it reliable on the track. Things like AP2 retainers, and upgraded timing chain tensioner. Other than that the car was stock. Remember that he bought the car used, and he had already put 3 previous track days on it. Before the 4th and final track day we had actually done a valve adjustment and a few other maintenance things to it to make sure it would be remain reliable and healthy for Buttonwillow event.
We left Las Vegas and drove the car all the way 300 miles to Buttonwillow raceway, along the way the car performed as it should, showing no signs of failure, knocking, ticking, pinging, or any other telltale sign that an engine was near the end of its life. Then… the third lap into his first session of the day, the engine decided to let go. Totally out of nowhere, even on the video as he comes on to the front straight (not even in a turn) you can hear that the engine gives no warning as it is just running fine, and then not running fine. Still to this day after disassembling the motor we are unsure of the exact cause of failure.
To read all about our journey down there, a lot more details of what actually happened, and watch the video. you can click the link below.
So as soon as he was back in town he was able to source a motor, and within a week it was dropped off. Since the motor he sourced was a stock F20c we had to do the upgrades to it to make sure it was going to be track ready. These can all be read about by clicking the link below.
The engine is all ready to go! everything checks out, its clean, its upgraded, and no signs of any excess wear and tear. He takes the engine back to his house and proceeds to install it. Once the engine was installed, it started up and drove just fine, mind you there weren’t very many miles driven, but on the surface everything seemed fine. With the car up and running he wanted to install a catch can set up. Catch cans are a very delicate subject so I wanted to do a full write up on them, what they do, and how to install them. We had set a day to do the install, and of course that was the first day he decided to drive the car to work. When he got off work he headed towards my house, but along the way the car started to overheat. He took a detour to his house to let the car cool, and we both thought it was just because there was still some air in the cooling system that needed to get bled out. I told him just to drive to my house and we would install the catch can and bleed his cooling system really good.
Click the link below to read all about catch cans.
We re-bled the cooling system and we seemed to get a few more big burps out of the radiator, but I noticed a very small amount of teeny tiny bubbles that were trickling out. High with optimism he drove home, 10 mins later I received a disheartening blow via text. “STILL OVERHEATING” I knew in the back of my head that the constant flow of little bubbles indicated a breach in the barrier between the cylinder pressure and the cooling system (this is not always the end all be all way to tell, and it is best to run a HC test on the coolant before jumping to conclusions). In simple terms, the head-gasket was bad. At this point he was over it, he decided to just take the car to the only shop in town he trust’s… ZENITH Auto! He trusts them not only because used to work for them a few years back, so he knows the shops work ethic, but also he is close friends with the people that work there, and can trust their opinions.
Fear not, he contacted the person he bought the new motor from. He explained to the guy that the motor had a bad head-gasket, and the guy paid for half of the bill for installing a new head-gasket. While his car was at the shop getting worked on, the mechanic noticed a very, very small leak in the OEM radiator. At this point he might as well just get an aluminum one, which is a good idea for anyone trying to track their car. His plan was to eventually get one, but he just wanted to get the car back up and running properly before dumping more money into it. Comes to find out that the actual cause of the leak was the small “O ring” for the fan switch, and he didn’t even need to get a new radiator. Could you blame it on the Curse, or just chalk it up to miss communication via text messages.
Let’s tally some of this up real quick to see where he is at.
- New (used) F20c
- New Ap2 springs/retainers
- New Radium catch can set up
- New head gasket plus installation
- New Koyo radiator (that he didn’t even need)
What do you think? would you call this a curse?, or just really bad turn of events. It just seems like he tried to do everything a properly as possible, and not cheap out on anything along the way. However both He and I believe that it is in fact just a part of owning, modifying, racing, abusing, and having cars as a hobby. Yes there was a bad chain of events that happened, but you also need to look at the flip side. He bought a used car, then tracked it 4 times within 4 months, bought a used engine with only word of mouth proof it was good, and had to replace an OEM radiator that was fairly new because of misunderstanding text messages. None of these things… while unfortunate, were acts done by a higher power, or for a reason unbeknownst to us. I believe that if you ever find yourself in this situation, you should do just as he has done. Own it and continue to move on with life, this is NOT a sign that you should not modify and race cars anymore. If you’re at all a serious enthusiasts you will know that this is merely a small bump in the road of your long journey in being a car guy, and that these things help make you a much more well rounded enthusiast. If these things scare you… Then you should go to church!
While his car was down he did some other upgrades as well. These included coming across a good deal on some Titan 7 wheels in AZ that he couldn’t pass on. Previously he was running a 17×9 team dynamic square wheel set up, and the Titan 7 were a 17×9.5 +51 square set up. They were noticeably lighter than the team dynamics (which are not known for being the lightest wheel, yet they are still strong enough to endure the stresses of racing) and it’s always good to fit the widest wheel you can to help increase the contact patch of the tire. Upgraded to an AP2 trans, because they have a shorter 1-4, slightly shorter 5th, a taller 6th, and carbon synchro’s stock as compared to the AP1 trans. New act pressure plate and OEM disc, This is a common thing because it will add a little more clamping power while allowing to clutch to still remain pretty light. Switched to an AP2 rear sway bar, since it’s not as stiff as the AP1. Thus helping the car have less over steer and be less twitchy. Spoon thermostat, Renegade Motorsports overflow tank. Lastly a Sabelt rear tow strap.
Another strange thing that happened, that was either a fluke or a part of the curse was… He purchased some used JRZ’s for an S2000, Then had them rebuilt, they felt good, then the rears blew out. It turns out that the actual length of the shock shaft was too long thus causing the rear shock to actually bottom out before the suspension reached full bump (so how could they be for an S2000 if they don’t allow the suspension to fully cycle). This was also causing the car to not squat enough in the rear since the suspension wasn’t able to fully cycle, and would cause over steer since the shock was bottoming out. No his car was not too low, and he even had roll center adjusters installed too, which would actually help increase shock travel. So rather than spend more money sending the JRZ’s back out to get the stroke shortened, rebuilt (again), and time was a key factor since there was another track day coming up. He decided to get some Koni sleeves, Eibach springs, and Koni yellow’s for just the rear. The current set up on the car is Koni/Eibach with 700lb springs in the rear, and JRZ’s upfront with 800lb springs. He is very happy with how the car is set up now, especially with the titan 7 lighter and wider wheels. He also chooses to run OEM front AP1 and OEM rear AP2 sway bars, which he says is uncommon in the s2000 world. Most guys will run a stiffer front sway bar. A cool thing about Patrick is that he doesn’t chose to follow what everyone does when it comes to suspension set up. He truly understands what each suspension part does on the car, and how it affects the cars handling characteristics. Then uses that knowledge to tune and set up the car for his driving style. A lot of this is done by trying different setups, and finding out what works well and what doesn’t.
So is there such thing as a curse? No, there is just a chain of bad events happening, that just happens to come with using and abusing your car. You should never let any placebo manifest into reality! Plainly stated, don’t believe in anything like that and there will be no reason for you to attach blame to a curse, or believe that there is a higher power that causes these things to happen. It’s all just directly related to quality of the used parts you are buying, how used they are, and how hard/abusive you are on your car at the track. I GUARANTEE if someone says their car doesn’t have issues, and they don’t break stuff. It’s because they aren’t going hard enough, or fast enough. It’s not because they have good luck, or are blessed.
As you can see his car has gone through a lot of changes since the first time we featured it, and his car will probably change a lot more too. That goes hand in hand with improving as a driver, trying to be quicker around the track, and replacing the used parts that you wear out and break. As for a Curse… Naw none here. Those are just for weak people trying to deflect blame or responsibility. If you take anything away from this article, remember this. In life we are so quick to blame miss fortune, or shitty things that happen to us on other things that are not in our control, because we don’t want to admit that is was actually ourselves that put us in those situations. Take responsibilities for your actions and don’t find ways to blame outer worldly beings, or malediction’s.
Below are some updated pictures of his car. Note that his car is actually a little lower now since the Titan 7 wheels are a +51 offset, and since all his shocks now have the correct stroke.