I mentioned that I'd purchased supercharger kits from Oscar's previous two aftermarket companies - Jackson Racing and Kraftwerks. And now this CR-Z kit is produced by, yes, Jackson Racing again. How does that work? Well, we won't get into too many technical details at this point, but the short of it is - a number of years ago Oscar got a great offer to sell the Jackson Racing supercharger business to Moss Motors of Oxnard, CA. Moss is a large automotive aftermarket parts retailer and wholesaler and Jackson Racing's lineup of supercharger kits for a variety of cars (not just Hondas) was a great fit for them. So Oscar sold the Jackson Racing brand, the technical knowledge and the rights to the supercharger kits to Moss. He also sold his Westminster shop to a former employee, Mark DiBella (great guy, shop is now called MD Automotive). And then he rode off into the sunset. Or so we thought.
Turns out modifying cars was too ingrained in his psyche to just leave. After a short break, he returned to form Kraftwerks Superchargers in a partnership with Skunk2 Racing. On the surface, this looked like a match made in heaven. Skunk2 has tremendous resources, top notch marketing, and a reputation for producing very effective parts for Hondas. Add in Oscar's supercharger development expertise and you had the makings of a powerhouse. Only this time, it wouldn't be with Eaton superchargers. Rather, for a number of reasons, Jackson chose to use a relatively unknown (in the States) supercharger manufacturer called Rotrex. The Rotrex supercharger is a centrifugal style unit, which means that it looks like a turbocharger compressor housing with a belt drive instead of an exhaust turbine. Historically centrifugal blowers have been characterized by high efficiencies, but modest low rpm boost potential. They are also bulky (but easier to mount than positive displacement blowers) and usually very noisy.
Now, I've often called centrifugal blowers the worst of both worlds. They don't offer the instant off-idle torque of a positive displacement supercharger, nor do the offer the stonking midrange of a turbo. But they do offer great high rpm power and you don't need to mess with the exhaust or fabricate an intake manifold. And for a traction limited street car, not having a major torque hit down low is not necessarily a bad thing. On top of that, the Rotrex setup tends to produce better low rpm boost and is ultra-quiet - something the makers of other centrifugal blowers are only just catching up to.
TOV got its first taste of the new Rotrex kits from Kraftwerks in the AP2 S2000. Both Jeff and I were thoroughly impressed with how smooth, tractable and fast the car was with a mere 8-9 psi and an exhaust system. In fact, I was so impressed that I ended up picking up a kit for my AP1 a while later. After the introduction of the S2000 kit, Kraftwerks produced a kit for the Honda Fit, Mazda Miata and began working on setups for the 8th gen Civic Si. They also successfully raced Rotrex equipped Hondas in landspeed competition with Hondata (pushing an RSX to nearly 240 mph at Bonneville) and in road racing/time attack with SportCar Motion. Unfortunately, it was about then that internal differences between Jackson and the owner of Skunk2, Dave Hsu began to arise. In the end, Oscar ended his participation in the day-to-day operations of the company as well as future product development.
But that still wasn't the end. Since he still retained rights to use Rotrex superchargers in the United States, Jackson decided to press ahead with other products he wanted to develop. And one of those was to be the first aftermarket forced induction kit for a hybrid that was CARB approved and emissions legal. Which brings us, finally, to the CR-Z.