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Record setting Acura TLX GT coming to Amelia Island 2024

Each year, some of the coolest cars in the world make their way to the Amelia Island for the Concours d’Elegance. This year a very cool Acura with a unique racing history is set to feature, as RealTime Racing is bringing their 3 time Pikes Peak International Hill Climb winning, Acura TLX GT, to be part of the “Cars of Pikes Peak” display.

Built originally by RealTime to take part in SRO World Challenge competition, the same chassis, with a few tweaks, was repurposed to take part in the annual “Race to the Clouds” where it became a record setting class winner for three consecutive years, from 2017-219, with team owner/driver Peter Cunningham.

“Out of all our years of racing partnership and success with Acura and Honda, Pikes Peak stands out as something very special,” Peter recalled. “The demands of the course, and what it requires of the car, team and driver, are unlike anything we’ve encountered in the sport. So that makes what we achieved with this program something that remains a highlight of my career.”

Prior to his debut on the Mountain, Peter, who is one of the more versatile drivers, claimed 14 professional drivers’ championships in his storied career in everything from ice racing, road racing and performance rallying.

The first of three Acura TLX GTs built for SRO World Challenge competition from 2014-2016, the original four-wheel-drive configuration was outlawed by the series following in the 2015 season. It was then pushed into a corner in their shop and collected dust until early 2017 when Acura gave them the green light to start on their Pikes Peak effort.

“We put it together, changed the gearing for a lower top speed and ran on Hoosier Tires. With guidance from Honda Performance Development (now Honda Racing Corporation USA), we added a bigger front splitter and took the existing GT3 rear wing and moved it up and back a bit to improve its efficiency,” Peter said. “In our first trip to the mountain in 2017, we finished second overall and set a new course record for Open class cars.” This saw Peter being named the PPIHC “Rookie of the Year”.

Switching to Pirelli tires, Peter successfully defended the Open Class title for the next two years, resetting class records for the 12.42 mile course each year. His 2019 run would stand as the class record for the next four years.

Starting with the base TLX chassis, the X-Trac four-wheel-drive racing GT version was designed and built at RealTime with HPD (HRC US) providing the production based “J35” 3.5 liter twin turbocharged V6 engine, a design that has also seen service in a variety of racing series from IMSA to the Baja 1000. The same engine was utilized for all three years at Pikes Peak and was never removed from the chassis.

The original bodywork was developed at HRC US using a combination of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and wind tunnel development. TotalSimUS also assisted with the car’s final Pikes Peak aero package, that included the addition of fender louvers, larger dive planes and a rear diffuser developed from the Acura NSX GT3.

“We also configured a three-gallon water tank on board to spray the intercooler and radiator,” Peter noted. “Even with the cold ambient temperatures overheating was an issue, particularly in the “W’s” section, which features short straightaways and big elevation changes. You only get one attempt each year so reliability is paramount, and the Acura never let us down.”

This year’s event will run from Thursday, February 29th through Sunday March 3rd at The Golf Club of Amelia Island and the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island near Jacksonville, Florida.


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