Honda Racing / IZOD IndyCar Series / RacingLine
HPD, ILMOR Share Herb Porter Award
There is absolutely no resemblance of any kind between Herb Porter and Robert Clarke.
The former was a foul-mouthed, hard-drinking, stubborn, brilliant engine man and car owner, who raised hell at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 50 years until his death in 2002.
The latter, of course, is the mild-mannered, soft-spoken Honda corporate-type who has led Honda Performance Development to the top of American open-wheel racing.
But, because of their individual talents for creating horsepower and performance in Indy cars, they were brought together in May. Clarke received the Herb Porter Award at the annual Hall of Fame dinner at the Speedway.
Named for "Herbie Horsepower," the award honors individuals who through "motivation, technical advancement or other accomplishments, have enhanced the philosophies and goals of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
Since joining the Indy Racing League in 2003 and under Clarke's watch, Honda has captured three consecutive Indianapolis 500s, back-to-back drivers' titles and amassed 28 wins before becoming the sole engine supplier this season.
This past May, Honda powered all 33 starters in the 90th Indy 500, after the IRL was left in the lurch by the departure of Toyota and General Motors.
"Robert and his people really stepped up and performed like the true professionals they are," said IRL president Brian Barnhart, whose series has a deal with Honda through 2009.
"He, Honda and Ilmor are very deserving of this award."
Clarke, who would much rather talk privately with owners and drivers in the garage area than speak at public gatherings, admitted he was less than enthused when he first heard about the honor.
"I was dreading going to that function, but when I got there I was pleasantly surprised and taken aback by the whole thing," he said. "All the 'old timers' and the stories they were telling about Herb Porter, it was quite awe inspiring."
"I was very pleased and very honored at the end of the evening."