Entries in Racing (7)

Thursday
May162013

Honda to Return to Formula 1

Today Honda announced a return to Formula 1 as an engine supplier to the McLaren International team beginning in 2015. For many enthusiasts and race fans, the name McLaren-Honda conjours up fond memories of one of the most dominant performances in F1 history.

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Monday
Jun112007

Acura Places First in Class at Sebring

Monday, June 11. 2007
Acura Places First in Class at Sebring
In late 2006, Acura announced plans to contest the American Le Mans (ALMS) series starting with the 2007 season. Three established race teams signed on: Fernandez Racing will use an Acura powered Lola chassis, and Highcroft Racing and Andretti-Green Racing will use an Acura modified Courage LC75 chassis’ with Acura power.

Nobody expected immediate results, especially against the established Penske Porsche Spyders. However, in their first race, Acura finished 1st in Class and second overall in the grueling 12 Hours of Sebring. It was a stunning upset victory for the Andretti-Green Team with drivers Dario Franchitti, Tony Kannan and Bryan Herta sharing the driving chores.


Sunday
Apr162006

Acura to Compete in the American Le Mans Series

Sunday, April 16. 2006

At the New York Auto Show, Acura celebrated its 20th Anniversary with the announcement that for the first time in its history, they will enter an international racing series as a full factory racing program. With the Acura brand on the verge of a global launch, the new LMP2 car will debut in the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 2007.

The new engine will be designed by Honda Performance Development (HPD). HPD currently builds the engines for the Indy Racing League, and has powered the last two Indy 500 winners.

Acura will supply the engines for the LMP2 program, and as the program matures, there are plans for an Acura designed LMP1 chassis to earn an invitation to the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.
Endurance racing is a challenge that Honda and Acura should excel at. The keys to success are reliability, fuel economy, and out right speed. All of these are traditional Honda/Acura virtues.

The Acura division currently provides cars and support for the Speed World Challenge Touring Car class and Real Time Racing. Our Integra Type-Rs and more recently our Acura TSXs have won both drivers and manufacturers titles championships. Back in the 90's, Acura sponsored the Camel Lights car of Parker Johnstone in the old IMSA series (below). This car ran a modified NSX engine and racked up 22 race wins in 38 starts including three championships, and the 12 Hours of Sebring.


Sunday
Apr282002

Honda Race Report, Winning ways continue in 2001

Sunday, April 28. 2002

The racing season is for 2001 is finished, and Honda again posted drivers championships and manufacturers titles. In doing so, Honda is training it’s engineers to learn, and adapt in the fast paced world of motorsports. These lessons will pay dividends as these engineers move to passenger car projects in the future.

Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) racing is the premiere open-wheel series in North America and has some of the most competitive racing anywhere. CART had 11 different drivers visit the top step of the victory podium in 20 races. It was in this ultra competitive environment, that Gil DeFerran (above) won his second consecutive drivers title in a Penske/Reynard with Honda power. Honda has been in CART for 8 years, and for the last 6 years in a row, the drivers title has gone to a Honda powered driver! Honda also won the engine manufacturer’s title for the fourth time, beating their rivals from Toyota and Ford in the process by a hefty margin.
Over in Formula 1, the going has been tougher. Honda provides motors to the British American Racing team (BAR) as well as Team Jordan, but success has eluded the two teams so far. There have been a couple encouraging podium finishes for Jacques Villenuve for the BAR team as well as numerous points paying positions. Villenuve’s teammate Oliver Panis has also finished in the points on several occasions. The 2002 pre-season testing for both Jordan and BAR has gone well, and there are high hopes for both teams.

In the Speedvision World Challenge, there are two classes, Touring Cars and GT. Peter Cunningham raced a supercharged Acura NSX in the GT class and narrowly missed the drivers title by only 8 points, while claiming 5 victories in 10 races. In the smaller Touring Car class, Pierre Kleinubing won his 3rd drivers title in his Acura Integra Type-R. This car has dominated the Touring Car class since it’s inception and this year’s title was the 5th in a row for the Type-R. This year the Real Time racing team faced a stiff challenge from the new BMW 6-cylinder 328s. World Challenge rules dictate that each time you win a race, you need to add 30 lbs of weight to the car, and by the end of the season, Kleinubing’s 1.8 liter, 4 cylinder VTEC engine was burdened by over a hundred extra pounds. The Acura contingent managed to win the drivers title but the manufacturers title went to BMW.

In the Speedvision World Challenge, there are two classes, Touring Cars and GT. Peter Cunningham raced a supercharged Acura NSX in the GT class and narrowly missed the drivers title by only 8 points to his former teammate Michael Galati (driving and Audi). In the smaller Touring Car class, Pierre Kleinubing won his 3rd drivers title in his Acura Integra Type-R. This car has dominated the Touring Car class since it’s inception and this year’s title was the 5th in a row for the Type-R. This year the Real Time racing team faced a stiff challenge from the new BMW 6-cylinder 328s. World Challenge rules dictate that each time you win a race, you need to add 30 lbs of weight to the car, and by the end of the season, Kleinubing’s 1.8 liter, 4 cylinder VTEC engine was burdened by over a hundred extra pounds. The Acura contingent managed to win the drivers title but the manufacturers title went to BMW.


Sunday
Jan282001

Honda Wins CART championship, And more!

Sunday, January 28. 2001

Honda driver Gil De Ferran accomplished many things this season, including winning the 100th race for legendary CART owner Roger Penske, winning two races, and the Fed Ex CART championship. This was his first championship but the fifth for Honda powered drivers in the last five years. That’s right Five for Five! Honda has a tradition of winning and a tradition of bringing the fruits of this winning technology to the street. As we prepare a new generation of i-VTEC twin-cam engines (see below) we are reinforcing our position as the most versatile engine manufacturer in the world.

In the Speedvision Touring Car series the RealTime Racing Integra Type-Rs had their hands full with the new BMW 328is, but still prevailed to win the drivers championship again. Pierre Kleinubing won his second drivers championship, and the fourth for Acura powered drivers in the last 4 years.

At the SCCA Solo II National Championship in Topeka Kansas, S2000s took first in A Stock , and first and second in A Stock ladies. Proving again that at all levels of competition , where we race, we win.


Thursday
Mar251999

Crossing the Pond: Racing in America

Thursday, March 25. 1999
Crossing the Pond: Racing in America
In my last newsletter I chronicled Honda’s original foray into F-1 and their subsequent domination at the pinnacle of international motorsports. After Honda’s retirement from F-1, they embarked on a gradual increase of their motorsports involvement here in America. During the 1991, 1992, and 1993 seasons nobody could beat Parker Johnstone in his Acura powered Spice/Comptech Camel Lights GTP car. Running a modified V-6 from our NSX sports car, this Acura won an unprecedented 3 straight drivers and manufacturers championships.

In 1994 Honda entered the CART PPG World Series as an engine supplier for the same reasons Mr. Honda emphasized long ago: “Use racing to train up-and-coming engineers.” For example, the chief engineer of the 3.0 CL engine was the chief engineer of the Formula One engine program. The CART engine program continues to pay dividends today. Honda powered cars have won three consecutive CART drivers titles. In 1996 the title went to the Target-Ganassi Racing Team and driver Jimmy Vasser. The 1997 and 1998 titles went to his teammate Alex Zanardi. But 1998 didn’t start off that good, in fact the first race was won by Michael Andretti with Ford power. The second race would be at Honda’s home track: Motegi.

The Motegi motorsports complex is owned and operated by Honda, has been in the planning stages for ten years, and could be viewed as the culmination of Mr. Honda's vision. On the morning of the first race, Nobuhiko Kawamoto the president of Honda (now retired) anonymously stopped by the paddock to visit his teams. The following is quoted from Autoweek: "...the former Honda Formula One engineer asked Chip Ganassi, "how is everything here?" Ganassi looked Kawamoto straight in the eye and said, "I can answer that in two words: more power." And he wasn't talking about electrical outlets in the garage."

Honda did not win that race, Ford did, the highest placing Honda was Gil de Ferran in third. Because of this failure - at their home track - that Kawamoto promised changes immediately. "Mr. Honda once hit one of his engineers on the head with a hammer," Kawamoto is alleged to have said, "and I will do the same if I have to. There are too many middle men between the drivers and the engine builders. The key to performance is communication. I want the drivers talking directly to the engine men. There will be more power."

Those words were prophetic, for in the 17 races remaining in the ’98 season, Honda won 13 of them! Alex Zanardi finished his CART career with his second consecutive title and Honda drivers finished in the top three places in points - again! In five short years of competition Honda has developed into the powerhouse of CART racing.

The dedication to winning and the desire to Finish First is leading a whole new crew of engineers to stretch their imaginations to find new answers to old questions. These young engineers are getting pretty used to winning, and when they return to passenger car duty they will bring that passion to the consumer products we offer for you. Ultimately this is why we race. To provide a better product for you.


Friday
Nov201998

A Recipe to Stir the Soul

Friday, November 20. 1998
A Recipe to Stir the Soul
There are a lot of companies that claim that racing is an integral part of the company philosophy. Honda has taken the expression "racing improves the breed" to heart, enjoying success in Motorcycle racing, Formula One Grand Prix racing, Champ Cars (CART),and IMSA competition. Our first win in Formula One came in 1965 at the Mexican Grand Prix when Ritchie Ginther took a Honda across the finish line to take the checkered flag. Honda finished sixth in the manufacturers championship that year and from those humble beginnings a motorsport legend was born.

Soichiro Honda was a fledgling automobile racer in his youth until an accident ended his driving career. That only seemed to intensify his desire to introduce innovative technologies to solve seemingly impossible engineering hurdles. Honda Motor Company was formed 50 years ago, and the first product was a prototype scooter whose engine was from a 50-cc war surplus generator. From the start there was racing. He regarded racing as the fastest way to learn, try new things, and find ways of providing a better product to his customers. Many of our most innovative products such as our revolutionary VTEC valve train, variable induction systems, direct ignition and advanced double wishbone suspensions all came from our involvement in motorsports.
Until his death in 1991, Mr. Honda was unique among the world’s automakers, an engineer who actually ran the company that bore his name. Tales of his hands on involvement abound, once during the 1965 racing season, a young engineer designed a piston that failed during a race, when he was questioned about that design, he defended his position by saying that was the way it was taught at Tokyo University. Mr. Honda was furious, he said, I did not hire you to copy Tokyo University. He made that engineer go up and down the garage and apologize to every mechanic and both drivers for drawing such a poor design!

Honda re-entered Formula one in 1983, this was the Turbo Era in Formula One and the rules called for a 1.5 liter motor with turbocharging. The motor they developed produced over 1000 horsepower, and took Honda to its first manufacturers championship in 1987. In 1988 Honda won 15 of 16 races, cruised to the manufacturers title and gave Ayrton Senna his first driving championship and Honda consecutive manufacturers titles. When Turbos were banned for the 1989 F-1 season, many experts expected a changing of the guard, after all Ferrari, TAG Porsche, Renault, and Ford-Cosworth were all capable of producing very good 3.5 liter normally aspirated ( non-turbo) engines. However this was not the case, Honda, led by a talented engineering team including future president, Nobohiko Kawamoto produced a new V-10 that kept the momentum going. Honda won the drivers and manufacturers titles in 1989, and in 1990. A switch to a V-12 for 1991 led to a fifth consecutive manufacturers title for Honda and it’s drivers.

Because Formula One has never had as much exposure in America as it has in Europe and the rest of the world, Honda left F-1 after 1991 and started concentrating its efforts on Motorsports in the US its largest market. This is summed up in one historic place - Indianapolis Motor Speedway
See my next issue -
“Crossing the Pond”