2011 Honda North American Motorsports Strategy

"Cars That Are Fun to Drive"

"It is obvious that we must provide excellent technologies in the area of the environment and safety, but the key is to perfect our products to what customers truly desire.  In that sense, I would like Honda to continue developing sports cars, which symbolize that cars are fun to drive and also continue to satisfy the expectations of Honda fans around the world in the area of motorsports."

Takanobu Ito, President and CEO, Honda Motor Company

In 2010, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (AHM) and its subsidiary, Honda Performance Development (HPD), leveraged motorsports activity in two ways to satisfy the expectations of Honda customers and fans. First, AHM and HPD supported motorsports activity as a promotional platform to reinforce Honda's brand attribute of products that are fun to drive.  Second, HPD expanded the sale to Honda customers of racing performance products with the dependability, quality, and reliability expected of our brand.

It was a successful year: 

  • HPD won its first class victory in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. 
  • Honda Indy V-8 engines powered every IndyCar at the 2010 Indianapolis 500-mile race without an engine failure.
  • Honda Indy V-8 engines completed 222,278 miles of IZOD IndyCar Series race events without any in-race engine failures.
  • The Honda Ridgeline won the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.
  • The Honda Civic Si won a championship in SCCA National competition and the ST class title in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge
  • The Acura RSX won a national championship in NASA competition.
  • The HPD L15A7 Formula F engine claimed its first SCCA National victory, and qualified for the National Championship Runoffs.
  • The Acura TSX won the GTS category manufacturers' title in the World Challenge Championships. 

When Honda products attract attention on the racetrack, the connection between Honda Racing and the everyday lives of its customers and fans is strengthened.  Participation in the Honda Racing Line program doubled; the Honda brand was introduced into key grassroots motorsports categories; and HPD introduced the first Honda Racing/HPD line of consumer apparel and merchandise for sale. 

In 2011, American Honda will continue this strategy with these and other efforts designed to exceed the expectations of our customers and fans.

Fueling Our Customers' Passion for Racing

Honda Racing Line (HondaRacingLine.com).  "Where You Turn"

The customer-based Honda Racing Line program came of age in 2010. The Honda Racing Line extends the dependability, quality, and reliability of Honda products to a broad range of auto-racing disciplines.   

From the most basic points of entry into the sport, such as karting and quarter midgets, to the elite levels, including the IndyCar and American Le Mans Series, the Honda Racing Line provides enthusiasts and professionals the opportunity to enjoy their sport with some of the most dependable products in racing.  

In 2011, the Honda Racing Line will expand the number of members it services and the number of racing formats it supports. Honda Racing Line amateur and professional racing formats include series, such as:

  • SKUSA and WKA Karting
  • QMA and USAC Quarter Midgets
  • NASA Honda Challenge
  • SCCA Club Racing
  • F1600 Formula F Championship Series
  • Pacific Formula F Super Series
  • SCCA World Challenge
  • Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge
  • SCCA Pro Solo

Registered members of the Honda Racing Line program participating in any of these, or other arenas can obtain products ranging from crate engines to spare power-train parts to chassis components.  In addition to product support, HPD provides Honda Racing Line members with vital sporting information to help them get the most out of their participation, technical support through ServiceExpress, and an online community providing Honda customers with the opportunity to interact on matters of interest to racers on all levels. 

Karting

Karting often serves as the point of entry for enthusiasts to experience the fun of motorsports first-hand.  To support our customers in this entry-level format, HPD offers Honda CR125 parts and engine-rebuild kits within the United States for competition in karting's 'Spec Honda' class.  The rebuild kits and service parts are available through the Honda Racing Line.  Licensed kart competitors may register for Honda Racing Line program support through HondaRacingLine.com.

Quarter-Midget Racing

Quarter-midget racing provides a cost-effective point of entry for young amateur oval racers.  In 2011, HPD added this racing format to its Honda Racing Line program.  Through the Honda Racing Line, Honda-powered participants in both Quarter Midgets of America (QMA) and United States Auto Club (USAC) quarter-midget competition may purchase parts and obtain valuable technical support.

Formula F (FF) Engine (HondaRacingLine.com/HPD/parts/Formula-F)

For decades, FF racing offered a unique format that was fun, cost-effective and extremely popular with grassroots racers.  Since introduction of HPD's fuel-injected L15A7 overhead-cam engine into the Honda Racing Line program, we have seen resurgence in consumer support for this historic racing class. 

The HPD L15A7 engine's high reliability has made it an increasingly popular choice in SCCA Formula F club racing.  Additionally, the engine has helped trigger professional series growth, including the new F1600 Formula F Championship Series (F1600 Series) and the Pacific Formula F Super Series. 

To date, the market offers L15A7 installations for nine Formula F chassis. Several of these chassis are new to the U.S. market.  These developments point to a revival of interest in the FF class, and Honda is pleased to be a part of this growth.

B-Spec Showroom Stock Racing

In 2011, Honda will join Mazda in developing a new format for amateur racers called "B-Spec" Showroom Stock racing, which will debut in the 2012 race season.  The new, low-cost B-Spec cars, developed from cars like the Mazda2 and Honda Fit, are among the most affordable, and enjoy great support from younger demographics. In addition to the MAZDA2 and the Honda Fit, the new class could also include Chevrolet Aveo, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, and Nissan Versa conversions.

Honda Fit B-Spec racers will enjoy the support of the Honda Racing Line program and are expected to be able to race the same car across multiple sanctioning bodies, simply by changing the sanctioning-body decals.

Performance Parts (HondaRacingLine.com/HPD/parts/performance)

Honda Racing Line registrants will continue to have the opportunity to purchase performance automotive parts, HPD-designed parts, and branded components.  These products are rigorously tested to give consumers the confidence that comes from HPD's years of success at the highest levels of motorsport.

Engines

From karting to IndyCar, HPD offers a variety of engines for racing applications. To complement the Formula F product, which made its competitive debut during the spring of 2010, the Honda CR125 engine kit is now available for karting, and HPD will augment its engine line with the HPD K20 in Spring, 2011.  A number of OE crate-engine models are also available.

Showcasing Our Brand for Honda Fans

Promotion - Building the Brand

"If we're going to build cars, it's better to do the hardest work now than later. The best place to learn is at the highest level."

Soichiro Honda, Founder, Honda Motor Company, when the company first entered Formula One competition in 1964.

Racing is ingrained in the corporate culture of Honda, in a way unlike any other major automotive manufacturer in the world. A former racer himself, company founder Soichiro Honda believed in competition – at the highest possible levels – as a means of improving his company, its people and its products.

Through its activities in pinnacle motorsports, Honda showcases fun, excitement, and the high quality and technical standards of its products.  Street reliable; track worthy.

Indy Racing League (Racing.Honda.com/Indycar).  The Most Dependable Name in Racing Engines. 

Since 2006, Honda has been the single engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series.  Powering IndyCars to victory over this period has provided a valuable opportunity for Honda to showcase its trademark reliability.  In 2010, IndyCars ran a combined 222,278 miles in IndyCar events without a single in-race engine failure. 

The Indianapolis 500 remains the largest single-day sporting event in the world, and provides Honda with a high-visibility platform for exposure of its products and engineering capabilities.  The Indy 500 has not seen an engine failure since Honda began its sole-supply relationship in 2006.  In its final single-supply race in 2011, Honda will strive to maintain this standard in celebration of the Indy 500 Centennial event.  Starting in 2012, Honda will be joined by Chevrolet and Lotus-branded engines in IndyCar competition. 

American/European Le Mans Series Racing

In 2010, HPD supported championship efforts in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and in Le Mans Series (LMS) racing in Europe.  In the U.S., the Highcroft Racing/Honda Performance Development ARX-01c took American Le Mans Series LMP chassis and engine manufacturers' championships, as well as the Michelin Green X© Challenge. 

In Europe, RML and Strakka Racing finished 1-2 in the Le Mans Series' LMP2 category, scoring a total of four LMS class wins - including an overall victory at the Hungaroring.  Strakka also claimed LMP2 honors at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 2010, with RML finishing third. In addition to winning its class, the Strakka HPD ARX-01c was fifth overall and established a new LMP2 record for distance covered in the endurance racing classic; HPD's first appearance at the famed event.

In 2011, HPD is offering a new LMP2 engine to customers participating in the American Le Mans Series, Le Mans Series, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Intercontinental Le Mans Cup competitions. Based on Honda's production-based global V-6 engine, the race version is a 2.8-liter, twin-turbo power plant, utilizing HPD's exclusive engine-control system, and is the product of a joint effort between HPD and Honda R&D Americas, Inc. (HRA).  HPD is also offering a new LMP1 chassis, the ARX-01e, powered by HPD's venerable 3.4L V-8 engine.  This new chassis is based on last year's championship-winning ARX-01c chassis.

Professional Road Racing

HPD will provide parts and contingency support for teams running in professional road-racing series. These activities provide Honda with competitive sprint and endurance-racing environments in which to prove its products.

Off-Road Racing

For the second time in the last three years, the Honda Ridgeline emerged victorious in the 2010 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, with the California Race & Rally entry of Gavin Skilton and Andy Grider claiming the win in the Stock Mini Truck category. The 2011 season will see continued participation by Honda in this challenging endurance racing format.

Honda Associate: Research and Support

A significant number of Honda associates participate actively in racing. Team Honda Research (THR) and Team Honda Research-West (THR-W) are racing teams comprised of Honda associates based in Ohio and California, respectively, who compete in SCCA and NASA events. THR members have won at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs, NASA Championships, and the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. THR also includes teams that currently compete in rally and karting.

The Honda of America Racing Team (HART) is comprised of associates from the Honda of America manufacturing facilities. HART competes in national-level autocross and drag racing, as well as in select events in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series. HART's racing activities help expand and diversify the skills that associates bring to their duties at American Honda.

The clubs test and utilize HPD performance parts, and act as Honda brand ambassadors at amateur events across the county.

HondaRacingStore.com

In 2010, HPD launched a line of consumer merchandise and apparel featuring the 'Honda Racing' and 'HPD' marks.  For the first time in over a decade, 'Honda Racing/HPD' apparel was available to Honda fans through the Internet, at racetracks, and at Honda dealers in the United States. 

This program will be expanded with more selections and styles in 2011, as HPD seeks to strengthen consumers' connection to the fun and excitement of the Honda Racing lifestyle.

Conclusion

Whether our customers love to race their own Hondas in sanctioned motorsports events or cheer their favorite cars and drivers to victory, American Honda's motorsports initiatives seek to bring the excitement of Honda Racing closer to consumers.  As programs such as the Honda Racing Line grow in popularity, our customers will have enhanced access to dependable Honda Racing performance products.  Through application of HPD's advanced technical standards, Honda and Acura engines will continue to power racers and teams into Winner's Circles and the hearts of Honda race fans. 

For Honda, auto racing offers much more than the opportunities to highlight the quality of our products or our on-track accomplishments.  We hope that in 2011, the sport of auto racing is more fun for our customers because of Honda products.

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