Honda Welcomes Open-Wheel Unification
Officials at American Honda and Honda Performance Development are thrilled with the announcement that America’s two premier open-wheel racing series have united.
“We are elated that the sanctioning bodies have elected to combine into a single, cohesive and powerful IndyCar Series,” said Erik Berkman, president of Honda Performance Development, the wholly-owned motorsports subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "For some time now, Honda has been clearly on record as supporting the concept of a single, unified American open-wheel racing series.
“We welcome the opportunity to provide our Honda Indy V-8 racing engines to all participants in what we believe will instantly be a larger, stronger and even much more competitive field; and we eagerly look forward to what surely will be a very exciting 2008 racing season. Not only is this unification good for all the teams and sanctioning bodies; most importantly, it is great for fans of open-wheel racing, whose loyalties have been divided by two competing racing series.”
Beginning with its initial entry into Formula One in 1964, Honda has a long record of involvement in open-wheel racing at the highest levels of the sport. Worldwide, Honda accomplishments have included 72 Formula One Grands Prix victories; four consecutive F-1 Constructors’ Championships (1988-91); and eight MotoGP motorcycle road-racing world championships in the last 13 years.
In the U.S., Honda began Championship Auto Racing Team (CART) competition in 1994, winning its first manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships in 1996. Three more manufacturer titles (in 1998, ’99 and 2001), five additional driver crowns (1997-2001) and 65 race victories highlighted Honda’s nine seasons in CART.
Honda entered the IRL IndyCar Series in 2003, and again quickly established a winning record against strong competition from other major automotive manufacturers. From 2003-05, Honda teams and drivers scored 28 victories in 49 races, including Indy 500 and IndyCar drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships in 2004 and ’05.
For 2006, Honda became the single engine supplier to the IndyCar Series, and the company continued in that role last year. During the course of the 17-race 2007 IndyCar Season, 36 drivers recorded a total of 166,608 miles with just a single in-race engine failure - a demonstration of outstanding design and build quality rarely seen in a highly stressed racing engine.
For the second consecutive season, Honda also powered the entire 33-car starting field at the 2007 Indianapolis 500. And for the second year in a row - and the only two times in ’500’ history - there was not a single engine-related retirement in the event.
In 2006, Honda marked its 100th American open-wheel race victory at Richmond International Raceway, a string of triumphs that started with Andre Ribeiro’s victory at New Hampshire International Speedway (a Championship Auto Racing Teams event) in 1995.
“Today marks a new beginning, a new ’Day One’ for American open-wheel racing,” said Berkman, “and Honda looks forward to supplying the new series and helping it to grow toward the prominence and popularity we know it can enjoy.”
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