Behind the Wheel with “The Incredible” Carlos Recinos
The driver of Miami’s Hulk Civic
Interviewer | Clifton Hernandez
Photos | Ralph Gabaldon
There are two types of racers out there. You’re either lucky enough to be born into it, or like some of the best things in life, you get turned-out by your friends. In either instance, once velocity and competition burrow their way in, there’s little chance of getting it out. We aren’t talking about pansy emotions like love. Time, distance, and radio talk-show hosts aren’t enough to sate this itch, there is no escape. So just give in to it. Kind of like Carlos Recinos did a few years ago. The Driver of the ‘Hulk Civic’ of the Street Racing Made Safe Top 10 List met up with us for a talk about his car and his passion for competition.
Street Racing Illustrated: When did you find out about SRMS (Street Racing Made Safe)
Carlos: Man, I’ve been doing Street Racing Made Safe from when it started. The top ten thing, I didn’t start until later on. I did the first couple of events, then I let it off for a while because I didn’t really enjoy it. It was mixed, race whoever. Then they started with the [list]. That’s when Frustrate started. I tried to get into it after, but I was having, ya know, little problems with the car. It wasn’t getting set up right. If it wasn’t the computer it was something else, the little hiccups started popping up. So, I had a couple of events where I couldn’t get anywhere
SRI: What would you say was your first car, not necessarily a full race car, but the very first thing you started playing with?
Carlos: The first car that I had, I had in high school, it was a Nissan Maxima. And the Maxima… I did nitrous and exhaust. It was the whole thing after school ‘yo lets go race in the corner’. Mario (from SRMS) went to school with us, so he was there, he experienced that.
SRI: So, in high school, you were those kids?
Carlos: Yeah, we were those kids! The ones that would go off and race after school!
SRI: So how did you end up with the Civic?
Carlos: The Civic came a while back… I started with the Mustangs, then after that, I got on bikes. I had a brother that was building a Civic. Back in 07’ he was involved in an accident and passed away. So, I continued the project. I finished his car. You know, back in 07’ 400HP was the thing then. It was like the most you could have on the street. We built the hatch, and I fell in love with it.
SRI: How did you get away from Mustangs because normally, Mustang guys typically stay with them?
Carlos: I had a coupe, a nitrous car and… man, I just got into the Hondas! The technology started to advance with every new car, and now you can have a streetable Honda that makes a 1000HP. Back then [when we were just starting out] you couldn’t even see that!
SRI: As far as racing goes what do you prefer, rolls, digs…?
Carlos: Man… I’ll do anything! I’ll do rolls, I’ll do digs. We just need the right surface and the right conditions to do a dig with a high horsepower car. Like when I raced Mayhem, when we set it up at [West Palm Beach Raceway], it was, more or less, the first dig I did with the Civic. It did pretty good… at low boost, it was pretty good.
SRI: Then, your preference is from a roll?
Carlos: I’d like to do both… they’re both exciting. Roll racing started up in Texas with high horsepower cars… but I’m a car enthusiast and of racing! I’ll roll, I’ll dig, for me, it’s whichever way you wanna do it. Some people would rather dig, some criticize the roll, but I’ll do both.
SRI: As far as the SRMS top ten list goes, is that something you’re interested in climbing further?
Carlos: I got hyped up and ended up making it all the way up to four, but the cars are getting faster and faster. Right now, I’m maxed out… My whole set up, my turbo’s maxed out! I can’t get any more out of it, so to get up higher on the list or to compete with these big guys’ I gotta make at least another two or three hundred more horsepower than what I have now. Got to have around 1300.
SRI: You going to start shooting for that?
Carlos: Don’t know man! I need sponsors! [laughs] I think now, that’s when things start getting really expensive. Just the turbo alone is going to cost like four grand!
SRI: Which would you say was your favorite car you owned out of your Civic, Mustang, and Maxima?
Carlos: Honestly? I liked the Mustang, man… Because back then we used to do a lot of digs so we go down south. Everybody would show up, and it was fun. Yo, I like digs but it’s hard for a lot of reasons.
SRI: Yeah, like when you start breaking stuff!
Carlos: Yeah! Matter of fact, I broke my diff. At an event. I was hurtin’, bro.
SRI: What’s the favorite thing about your Civic?
Carlos: My Civic? The Honda’s are fun man, they pack a lot of power, they’re lightweight… Little bit difficult to set up, because you know, the front wheel drive. They tend to overpower the tires. But I like how my car is, I like how it drives, how it handles. It handles pretty good in the turns! You’d think it don’t, but it does.
SRI: Miami is a tough place to be with a car that attracts as much attention as yours does. Honda’s are popular targets for thieves. I know a few guys who rent out whole storage units and space in warehouses to keep theirs safe. They don’t even want to bring it home. Has the popularity of your Civic ever given you cause for concern?
Carlos: Yep, Miami’s known for hot boys and all that. I’m well known around, so you got to take care of yourself, yah’ know? I go out with the car. It’s here with me now! I keep tabs on it at all times. I don’t go to the mall and leave it in the parking lot. My car is safe where I store it and if anybody tries to mess with it, they are going to get into some situation [laughs]. But that’s the problem with the Honda’s man. People are going to steal them. They are universal, you can use a lot of the parts on other Hondas. If you’re going to have a car like that, you’re going to have to do what I do. Go out with it and stay within twenty or thirty feet of it.
SRI: Does the noise your car produces disturb the people around you?
Carlos: Nah… I have a lot of people that stop or wave me down, ask me what my car has. I’ve even had the mailman pull up to me and tell me it’s nice’. You attract a lot of attention. It feels good. You don’t see cars like that all time, especially in the street. But it’s enjoyable to take the car out.
SRI: How’s it with having a family and needing to go out with the car?
Carlos: Well the Civic is a racecar. I can take one passenger and that’s it, man.
SRI: What does your family think about your racing and the car?
Carlos: I’m not gonna lie to you. When you meet a girl, they are like “OMG I love the racecar!” But with time they start to realize you like the car so much, and then they start to hate it! Right now, they like it, because they know it’s what I love but… it’s not their favorite. But it’s what I love so they have to deal with it, ya know?
SRI: Is there a specific car you enjoy racing and beating?
Carlos: I’m not going to lie, I enjoy beating whoever. Just want high horsepower, but the 2Js… they are the ones that get butt-hurt. I actually beat two of them at the last event! Everybody started hating on me, saying “those cars didn’t make a 1000HP, they were making 700…” So, the 2Js are one of the biggest butt-hurt ones, the GTR guys, the Chevy guys. Yeah them…
SRI: That’s funny, growing up going to PBIR, the 2Js and Rotaries were always going at it. There was a guy in the section we sat in that had a bullhorn. He’d be at every event screaming “It’s Rotary baby! Not a 2JZ or some little mixed up Honda!” Lot of fond memories of those rivalries, so for you to say, “I like beating 2Js because it’s always fun”-
Carlos: They take it personal! They take it really personal. Even the other guys that own 2Js and have nothing to do with the car, they’ll get involved. It was always hard for a Honda to beat a 2J but when it finally happens-
SRI: The excuses come out! It’s that whole mob mentality. The Toyota guys always stick together, the Honda guys, Nissan and so on. If you were to build another racecar, what would you build?
Carlos: I’d like to build another Honda, but this time I’d like to build, uh… rear wheel drive set-up? Probably in a S2000. Or maybe even jump into a 2J. Build it out and drop it into a lighter car?
SRI: Oh, really, like what?
Carlos: I love the Supra body, I really do, or maybe a 240? I like it, it’s a lighter car as well… Another option I’ve thought about it trying to put my motor into an MR-2, the third gen. That would be another interesting build.
SRI: There’s a taboo that exists in some circles. They think 2Js should stay in Toyota’s and RBs and in Nissan’s etc. but you seem to take a more racecar approach like you just want to put the most efficient motor in the best body available.
Carlos: It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you put it together and it works. That’s your creation, that’s your set up. Yeah if I had a 2J I could put it into a Supra, but everybody does that.
SRI: As far as aesthetics, are you happy with it, if you could start over, is there anything you’d do differently?
Carlos: For drag racing? I’m happy with it. The color, I picked it out when we painted. I called the car the ‘Hulk’, little did I know there were other people doing the same on the car with the name and color but it’s an eye-catcher! The haters talk bad about it, they call it the ‘Booger’.
SRI: What was your first race like, not at the track, but your very first race? Do you remember it?
Carlos: My first race was probably with my Maxima. All my friends had different types of cars, but one of them had a 4.6 Mustang, a 95’, so I lined up with him. When we raced, I saw that my Maxima was neck-to-neck with him. I was like “man, a V6 sedan against a V8 coupe?!” From there I added nitrous to the car and started building it up. But as far as the track, the first time I went was back when [Palm International Raceway] was stilled named Moroso and they had things like ‘Battle of the Imports’ and stuff like that with the races and car shows and stuff, about 00’-01’. I paid my $25 or $30 and raced with my Maxima on nitrous. I think my best time was like a 14 [seconds in the ¼ mile]. For me back then, it was like flying!
SRI: I remember those days. They used to bring out semis with jet engines and just make everyone lose their s@#%.
Carlos: Yeah, I believe those things used to run like 11s back then. It’s amazing how far we’ve come with technology. We’ve got little Honda Civics with a 1000HP, streetable and still reliable with that much power.
SRI: You used to ride bikes, right? Do you still ride?
Carlos: Not any more… I used to race bikes in the street, in certain areas, but I had a couple accidents and slowed down on it, so I started doing cars. In 02’ I had an accident where I lost three of my toes, the chain cut them off, so I’ve had a few close calls already. I still have a few friends of mine from the old school that are into it, they still race, but I don’t really want to get into the bike scene anymore. My brother got into an accident and passed away on one. It’s a little too much tension for my family. I already have their heart beating with the car. Don’t really want to put my mom through too much. I had the chance to get back into it a couple times, but I’m done with that.
SRI: You’re a truck driver by trade, is there anything else you’d rather be doing?
Carlos: My dream would be traveling all over in an RV with my team racing. I have the team, the tuner, the builder. I think we’d do damage. We’re already killing it and we’re just mediocre. It’s just the funds. We could be top guys…
SRI: That tuner is Javituned. He’s a pretty well-known guy around South Florida and other parts. He’s also Frustrate’s tuner. If you’re planning on climbing that SRMS Top Ten List, you’re probably going to have to lock horns at some point. What’s the relationship like between you two?
Carlos: Met Frustrate about a year, or a year and a half ago, and we became good friends. He’s helped me, I’ve helped him. Even at the track. There’s never a [rivalry] between us, but if we have to race each other, we will. There’s no grudge there. We’re a pretty good team between all of us. On Facebook, there’s always talk about ‘who’s faster, the 36 Boys, or Frustrate or you’, we’re all friends. But we’ll try to race to see who’s faster as friendly runs, why not? The cars are there. We’d rather race against other people, other Hondas, other cars to see who’s fastest.
SRI: You got into this in High School, have been steady into it the whole time, since then?
Carlos: I gave it a break with the car and bikes for like three years. I started saying ‘maybe it’s not me’ but I got that itch, it bothered me. In time, I got back into the car, and I know inside now, that’s where I want be. I live, eat, breathe the racing, man.
SRI: Up in Orlando, I understand it was hard to get a race at the SRMS event there?
Carlos: Yeah man, I had some well-known guy named Sponge call me, said he wanted to race. I didn’t even know the guy. The night of, he tells me he’s on his way but he didn’t show up until five minutes after the track was closed and nobody else wanted to race.
SRI: There was a race a little while back where someone threw the hazards on you halfway down the track and you ended up winning…
Carlos: That one! It was a beautiful R34 GTR, man. They were having issues starting it and Frustrate made a joke about Honda’s being able to start. I guess the GTR driver heard him because he turned around and pointed at my car and said, “Watch what I do to that Honda!” Now, this was a fully built R34. We lined up, and he jumps me by like three cars [lengths]. I ended up catching up to him but he threw the hazards up on me while I’m switching into 3rd! I’m like ‘look at this guy…’ By time I got to 4th, I was right next to him. I yanked him and he hit the brakes thinking it was over. He had no idea I was right next to him! I passed him and was like “too soon, junior!” But that car was stupid fast. His builder got on my Instagram the next day talking. He was pretty mad. That was a qualifying race for the top ten list. One of my favorite races.
SRI: Thanks for taking the time to sit with us Carlos, any parting words you’d like to end with?
Carlos: I would like to give a shout out my tuner Javitune, and my builder, Duany, from DNA performance! Also, my close friends, who are part of my team!
Street Racing Illustrated would like to thank Carlos for chatting with us!