Donald Francis is looking to make a splash on the US drag racing scene shortly.
The North Side resident will be racing at Atco Speedway in Atco, New Jersey on 14-15 April. Francis, 22, states he has recently performed more than $5,000 worth of modifications to his white Honda Civic Type-R nicknamed ‘Plan B.’
“The car is in Pawtucket, Rhode Island where it is held and tuned,” Francis said. “I’ll be competing on the US tracks at year-round meets. So far, there have been no races but I will be competing almost every month. I changed the turbo, intercooler, manifold and everything costs around $4,500-$5,000. The car makes 850 horsepower but I’m not using all of the power.
“I’m using 24.5 inch slicks though 26.5” are ideal. If I change the slicks I would be in a faster class. With the bigger slicks, I could run 8.5 seconds and compete in the outlaw class (for eight to nine second cars). Right now I could do 10s all days though I’m aiming for the low nines. Next year I will get more mods and do it even bigger.”
The quarter-mile drag strip in Atco is one of several National Hot Rod Association tracks Francis will be competing on along the US East Coast. He is slated to race at the New England Raceway in Epping, New Hampshire before running in Maryland.
Plan B was already far from stock with nitrous oxide, aftermarket pistons and rods, a ported and polished cylinder head, racing manifold, dual wastegate, race injectors and a Precision 67/65 turbo among the roughly $20,000 worth of modifications.
Francis, who was born and raised in George Town, states the goal is to be a permanent part of the NHRA circuit.
“Eventually I want the car NHRA certified so I can race on any track. They have a lot of specifications, especially safety-wise, so I would have to meet the necessary requirements. Then I would have no reason not to race. It takes time and it’s all out of pocket.
“Being that it’s my first time in the States competing, I want to go there, watch how it’s done and represent Cayman to the fullest. I would encourage people to broaden their horizons and compete overseas. I don’t see anyone doing it right now on a large scale.
“There are a lot of sponsors in the States and I would like a fully sponsored car. I want Cayman to be known in the US in the sport of drag racing, not just football or other sports. I want to put Cayman on the map.”
Francis has help maintaining the car from US-based tuner Javier Torres and turned to competing abroad after the end of drag racing in the Cayman Islands. Breakers Speedway, the lone 1/8 mile track, closed for good last December with a meet put on by the Cayman Islands Drag Racing Association. Francis had a decent showing though the top racers were Patrick Campbell in his Nissan Skyline GT-R, Omar Crespo in his Mitsubishi Evolution III, Ray Hydes in his Evo III, Vito Welcome in his Honda Civic Type-R, Edison Bodden in his Civic and Javier Medina on his Suzuki GSXR.
The Cayman Islands Water Authority engineering assistant excelled at Breakers, with a personal best time of 7.4s. Plan B was reportedly the fastest street-driven Honda on Grand Cayman and among the quickest all-motor Front-Wheel Drive vehicles on Island. Donald’s brother Steven Francis, 19, is a mechanic who has invested thousands into his Honda Integra Type-R.
The biggest happening on the local motorsports scene now is autocross, in the form of the Cayman Motorsports Association 2012 Time Attack series.
Other racers, like West Bayer Dante ‘Ross’ Hydes, have tried competing abroad. Francis feels the likes of Hydes, who runs a Honda CBR 1000 motorcycle, should continue to look overseas.
“Dante runs in Tampa, Florida and lots of people saw him run in Bradenton. That’s a good start for him. When I first saw him racing (abroad), it had me overjoyed. We’re cool, more than on speaking terms and now he’s always cheering me on to see how I’m doing.
“A lot of people are contemplating it. With no track right now, there are a lot of people with bikes who would like to do it. It’s all about the sponsors.”