HPD Blog

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Project FF Diary 3

[This is the third in a series blog posts detailing the Layton Racing/Quantum Mechanics Honda FF program, as we convert a Kent-engined Van Diemen to Honda Fit power and run a season of SCCA National Racing. It should be fun, and you’re welcome to follow our progress – Dan Layton.]

Yeah, I’m going to drive the car some this year (Hey! It’s MY money that bought it and will run it). But I’m 50+ years old, and my Honda IndyCar PR commitments will make it impossible for me to run more than three or four National races this year. So, we’re going to try to find someone young and fast to put in the car for those SCCA weekends when I’m doing my IndyCar thing, and we’ve already had some encouraging talks in that direction.

In addition, Quantum has bought a second Van Diemen RF98 FF2000 that we plan to convert into another Honda FF. It has joined the “Winter R&R” project lineup at the shop along with my car, Quantum’s Van Diemen FF2000 Zetec (which is slated to run the SCCA East Coast Pro Series in 2010), and a pair of Lola Sports 2000s. For those of you keeping score, that’s three Van Diemens and two Lolas, all in various stages of “refresh & rebuild”. It’s going be a busy winter in Oklahoma City.

But first things first. Within an hour of arriving at Quantum and unloading my Van Diemen, it was time to start taking it apart for inspection and replacement of any broken down and/or worn-out bits.

The good news is there were no major, nasty, expen$ive surprises. One of the tri-pod joints was junk, a couple of bearings and bushings were worn out (in the gearbox, steering rack, etc) but all-in-all, it was just about what you’d expect from a car of this age and mileage. I’ve got to compliment Jim Geithner, the car’s previous owner, who was completely honest in his dealings with me; and accurate in his descriptions of the car, its history and condition. It was a pleasure doing business with him.

Wendell DID find evidence of a pretty big hit to the rear of the car at some point, most likely from the period when it was a Pro FF2000 car. That will require some repair work – and perhaps some time on the shop surface plate. But again, that’s no great shock for a car with around 35 total races in two separate pro series on its resume.

The guys also pulled the engine out right away, and it sold almost immediately for $5,500, much faster than I had anticipated. I didn’t even need to advertise it, word-of-mouth in the FF community got it done. I love it when a plan comes together.

That’s about a wrap for now. The next edition of this blog will follow in January with a recap of the chassis R&R process and our finalized race schedule for 2010. I’ll be heading back down to the shop again shortly to "help out" and make a seat for my old, fat, self. The Fit engine and chassis kit parts should arrive in time for February’s report and – assuming the Honda FF is approved for SCCA competition starting in March – we’re aiming to debut at the March 5-7 Double National race weekend at Texas World Speedway in College Station.

With five cars (two FFs, an FF2000 and two S2000s) in various stages of winter rebuilds, the Quantum shop is a busy place in December. The "Kent" engine seen here in my car? Already pulled out, inspected and sold!!!

Project FF Diary 2

[This is the second in a series blog posts detailing the Layton Racing/Quantum Mechanics Honda FF program, as we convert a Kent-engined Van Diemen to Honda Fit power and run a season of SCCA National Racing. It should be fun, and you’re welcome to follow our progress – Dan Layton. ]

Step 2: Take it apart and see what you REALLY bought…

Getting the car from New Paltz, NY (just outside New York City) to its new home at Quantum in Oklahoma City – on Thanksgiving weekend no less – was a bit of an adventure in itself. But that’s a story for another time.

Run by the father/son duo of Wendell and Slade Miller, Quantum Mechanics has been around for decades and always does a great job. They’ve got experience running everything from SCCA Club Racing programs to Pro Sports 2000 and Pro FF2000, plus Vintage and even a USAC Midget effort(!).

The cars they run are competitive, safe and reliable – exactly what you want from a partner/prep shop. We approach racing with a similar mindset, and we both see the long-term potential in developing a strong FF program and building Quantum into a "next step team" for karting graduates.

The Van Diemen’s new home: Quantum Mechanics in Oklahoma City, OK.,
Because that’s one of our goals for this project: establish the team as a multi-car Honda FF effort and started heading some talented kids up the racing ladder towards IndyCars.

Monday, December 21, 2009

HPD Formula F - FAQ v1.2

Formula F - Frequently Asked Questions v1.2

  • What happens to the $500 deposit for the Formula F Kit?
    The $500 deposit request was generated in an effort to help us plan the number of bespoke parts to kick off... Sumps/Manifolds/etc. The deposit does not lock the customer into the purchase of a particular level of assembly. The deposit can be applied to a purchase of any of the kit levels that we offer:

  1. Entire FF engine+chassis installation.

  2. FF engine kit (OE Fit crate engine + bespoke FF engine kit).

  3. Bespoke FF part kit (above, minus Fit crate engine).

  • Will the gearbox input shaft be included in the Kit? What about the clutch slave cylinder?
    Yes, input shafts come with the chassis kit. Clutch slave cylinder will be included also. The DB-1 will be a complete slave cylinder with throw out bearing; the DB-6 will have a spacer behind the original slave cylinder. The Van Diemen is in process.

  • What is included in the Swift DB-1 Formula F kit?
  1. OE Fit crate engine; assembled.

  2. Honda bespoke FF engine parts kit which is required to convert the OE Fit engine into the Formula F unit. The kit consists of Throttle, Intake Manifold, Sump/Pump, etc. (Conversion does not require changes/adjustments to the engine's internal moving/reciprocating engine parts.)

  3. DB-1 chassis installation kit; parts needed to install the Formula F engine into a Swift DB-1 chassis. These parts include Mounts, Hoses, Adapter, Input Shaft, Lower Engine Panel Body Blisters, etc.

  • How will the fuel system be set up? What modifications do I need to do to my fuel cell?
    The fuel system will be a dead head type. A high pressure pump and regulator will be in the cell with only the main feed, vent and electrical connector exiting the cell. You will need to drill a third whole in the filler plate for the connector and remove some foam to make room for the pump and regulator.

  • Will I have to modify my bodywork?
    The Swift DB-1 and DB-6 will require the addition of blisters on the lower right and left engine covers. These will be supplied in the Kit. Slight modification of the internal air box area may be required. Preliminary work on the Van Diemen is showing the need for a new engine cover.

  • What complete conversion kits will HPD be supporting?
    The Swift DB-1, DB-6 and 1999 to present Van Diemen.

  • Will HPD supply the dash with the kit?
    A dash will not be supplied with the kit. We will supply an engine harness, chassis harness and ECU.

  • How do I know what dash will work with the Fit engine?
    The harness will include a CAN breakout for dash and one for an analog tachometer. The ECU will use the Bosch MS4 protocol. Check your dash manufacture for compatibility with the Bosch MS4.

  • What sensors will be standard on the engine?
    Engine speed (RPM), Cam Phase, Throttle position, Manifold air pressure, Water temperature, Air temperature, Wideband Lambda sensor and Oil Pressure switch. Optional sensors will be available for Oil Temperature, Oil Pressure and Fuel Pressure. The engine will be delivered with the stock oil pressure sender which will operate an LED on the dash.

  • Will the ECU have sensor diagnostics?
    Yes, there will be a breakout for an LED light box that will flash codes for diagnostics.

  • What is the power curve of the Fit engine?
    This will be determined by the SCCA at a dyno test at the end of January. The SCCA will determine the restrictor size at that time.

  • Will the engine and Kits come with an assembly manual?
    Yes. The kits will include a Honda Fit service manual, an HPD produced manual for installing the engine kit parts onto the stock Fit engine and an HPD produced manual for chassis installation. There will be a trouble shooting section and dash connector information included.

  • Will I need to modify the frame to properly install the Fit?
    For the HPD supplied kits, no frame modifying will be required.

  • Where can I get a price list?
    The price list for Swift DB-6, Van Diemen and individual parts will be released at the beginning of the year. The Swift DB-1 kit is $11,750.00.

  • Will any junk yard Fit engine work?
    You will need to be sure that it is a 2009 model: L15A7. You can tell by the single exhaust port in the head.

  • Do I have to run the Honda Fit Alternator?
    HPD will supply the kit engines with a smaller Denso unit. This alternator and the stock unit will both be legal for use.

  • What is the weight of the engine?
    The weight of the engine is 221 lbs. This includes the starter, small alternator and the clutch assembly.

  • What oil pan skid plate is used?
    Use the stock Swift skid block and hardware.

  • What's the best way to remove the oil pan locator dowels without damaging them?
    We use a Snap-on style dowel puller set. If you have a slide hammer and small internal bearing pullers, that would work as well. Worst case, try some local heat and use vise grips, (you can polish out slight damage).

  • Will a power curve graph be published to establish gearing, shift points etc.?
    We are trying to setup a database for gearing recommendations, however this may take a while. In the meantime, you can gear for a 6,600 or 6,700 RPM shift point. With the 27.5 restrictor you will probably notice the power drop off around 6,400 RPM. The rev limiter will hit at 7,000 RPM.

  • The Racing Line part list shows 2 different spark plugs for the L15A7 engine (Denso, NGK). Which ones are appropriate for the racing application?
    Our testing used the NGK specification, however either spark plug would be fine to use.

  • Is the ACG pulley field replaceable such that we'd only need a spare ACG (Part # 31100F21SA20) or will it require a complete ACG & pulley for it to be useable as a spare in the field?
    Yes, the pulley is field replaceable.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Project Honda FF Diary 1

[Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts detailing the Layton Racing/Quantum Mechanics Honda FF program, as we convert a Kent-engined Van Diemen to Honda Fit power and run a season of SCCA National Racing. It should be fun, and you’re welcome to follow our progress – Dan Layton.]

As someone who began racing in FF with an Elden Mk 10, w-a-a-a-a-a-a-y back in 1979 (special bonus points for any of you who actually remember what a Elden Mk10 was – hint: not so good), I was extremely enthusiastic when Honda announced plans to enter the FF arena with the 1.5-liter Fit engine.

So enthused, in fact, that I raised my hand and said “I’ll buy one and run it,” even before the program was officially approved by the SCCA. Ready, fire, aim…

So, over the last couple of months, I’ve re-acquainted myself with the class and cars (I last raced FF in 1997-2001), developed a budget, bought a car, and partnered with a veteran race team to prepare and run FF in 2010.

But first, it’s full-disclosure time. As some of you already know, I work with Honda in the company’s IndyCar Series program, as part of the Public Relations effort, and have done so since 1995. But I am employed as an independent contractor, and this program is separate from my IndyCar work.

So, for purposes of “Project Honda FF”, I’m a customer, like anyone else. I’ve placed my own orders for the engine, engine kit and chassis kit, and made my own deposit. Ours will be an independent team, on the same footing with all the others who choose to go the Honda FF route.

However, I’m not a novice at this game. Indeed, I’ve been an SCCA racer, on and off, for more than 20 years, in a variety of classes including FF, Formula Atlantic and endurance racing. I even made a stab at “going pro” in the mid-1980s. Most recently, I’ve been running a tube-frame, rear-wheel-drive Honda CRX-Si a couple of times a year in the GT-Lite class.

I’m passionate about the sport, and have always believed that FF – a class with no aerodynamics, no ground effects, and more “grip than grunt” (handling over power) – is THE best place for a young racer to learn chassis setup, tire management and race craft, before moving on to the more sophisticated classes.

Once upon a time, nearly everyone who wanted to be a professional racer started out in FF, and fields of 30 or more cars were the norm. But, for a variety of reasons, that hasn’t been the case for some time now. I truly believe that Honda’s participation in FF will help rebuild the class and once again make it the best place to start an open-wheel racing career, in addition to making it more fun and affordable for “regular” SCCA club racers.

With all that in mind, it was time to get started.

Step 1: Buy a car.

As I mentioned earlier, this is my own project, so I don’t have anything like an unlimited budget. To make it work with the funding I have available, I need to be able to put a competitive car on track for about $30,000. Hey, it was either this or a buy new Honda CR-V, and my current one’s still got plenty of miles left in it…

So, the search for a good FF chassis began. A quick look at recent SCCA national race and Runoffs results soon made it apparent there are several competitive chassis available in decent numbers: the Swift DB-6, Piper DF3/DF5. Citation 94/95F and current-model Van Diemens.

All are modern, wide-track designs, with pushrod suspensions and stiff, well-engineered chassis. Plus, I fit in them. That’s not a small [pun intended] consideration, as I am 6-foot-2, 195 lbs – too bloody big, really, to be a race car driver. That fact alone eliminated the Swift DB-1 from my search list. Even though it’s still very competitive – and the most popular FF chassis out there – I simply can’t fit in the cockpit without beating up my knees, elbows, shoulders, etc.

The newer Swift DB-6 works, since it has a longer cockpit than the DB-1 and has done away with the shin-bashing front rocker-arm suspension in favor of pushrods. The problem with the DB-6 was price. The nicer cars out there were all priced in the mid-30s or higher – out of my range by the time I factored in winter rebuild costs. Meanwhile, the “project” cars, most priced in the high ‘teens, all needed TOO much in replacement parts and labor to make them race-ready. I would’ve ponied up more than 40k by the time the car was on track. And it wouldn’t do me any good to build up a nice car and then have no cash left to run it…

I couldn’t find any used Piper DF3s or DF5s for sale (and a brand-new one would be a budget-buster). A shame, because it does appear to be a VERY well-engineered car. After some thought, I also eliminated Citations. They are quite competitive (ask Scott Rubenzer, who won the Runoffs in one this year) and very strong, but are a bit labor-intensive to maintain, and I have no real experience working with them.

But I do know Van Diemens very well, having previously raced both an RF86 FF and an RF98 FF2000, and I have a ton of respect for designer Dave Baldwin. There is great parts support and the car is very competitive in FF. There were also several for sale, and I ended up buying the second one I inspected.

Originally an RF98 FF2000 Pro Series car, it was later converted to FF specification and run in the professional Ontario (Canada) FF Series. The logbook showed only 7 races – and no crashes – since being turned into an FF, and it hadn’t been run at all since 2004.

The chassis floor was carpenter’s-level straight, the fuel cell was good, and there were no leaks anywhere in the oil/water systems. The transmission had been blueprinted, with an aluminum differential; 3-way adjustable Penske/Stimola dampers were fitted, along with a data-logging AIM-3 dash. Sweet. The engine was a fresh Marcovicci-Wenz unit (“dyno time only”).

The asking price was $18,500, and it came with plenty of spares: a second full set of wishbones and pushrods, a half-dozen alternate spring sets, and some miscellaneous bits. The only thing it lacked was spare wheels and gear sets. After sitting for so long, it also would need to be taken apart for the surface rust to be cleaned off and all the wheel bearings, hydraulics, tri-pod joints, etc. inspected and replaced as needed. Some quick, in-my-head math on what all that would cost, a bit of haggling over the price, a check, a handshake and the car was mine.
Oh, one final thing. The paint was in great condition, no chips, crazing or fading anywhere. But the color … um, err … well, see for yourself:

Here’s the Van Diemen as purchased. Yeah, I know, it’s ORANGE. “House of Color Dayglo Orange”, to be specific. I call it “highway-cone orange”.

Monday, December 14, 2009

PRI Blog – Day 3 (12/12/09)

Sorry it took me so long to get to writing Day 3’s blog. It was a long night on Saturday (the last day of the show). PRI representatives forewarn all exhibitors that it could take as many as four hours after the 5 p.m. close of the show to return all crates in order for exhibitors to pack up their displays. Well, we at Honda Racing/HPD received our crates at 8:30 p.m. EST, a mere 3½ hours after the close of the show. I guess we shouldn’t complain; it could have taken another 30 minutes!

We passed the time by tearing down the display and prepping everything as much as we could, prior to packing it all up. We ordered pizza, ate and waited. While waiting, I decided to check out some what-I-thought-were abandoned booths (Many people leave the convention center for a few hours to go eat until their crates are returned). As I approached a neighboring booth and was about to enter its meeting room to compare it to ours, I found a handful of shoeless men sleeping on the floor. Luckily, I discovered these exhausted exhibitors prior to actually entering their area, but boy, would I have been a surprise to them! I hope they got some rest, because they were still packing up when we left the convention center at 9:30 p.m.

The last day of the PRI show brought us much the same as the two prior days, just less of it. There were fewer people, fewer giveaways and less energy. By the end of these trade shows, the majority of the exhibitors look like they’ve been beaten with sticks and left on the curb. Toward the end of the show, other exhibitors stop by and comment that we look as tired as they feel. If I weren’t so tired and they weren’t so correct in their assumptions, I might think they were telling me my appearance was not so stellar. However, seeing how tired I truly was, I decided to let it slide this time.

We managed to hand out every last spark-plug keychain and Honda Racing/HPD National Speedway Directory that we brought to the show. The keychains ran out a couple hours into the last day and left people asking us for more throughout the remaining hours. Meanwhile, there were four directories left as the last hour of the show began. It became a sport for me to see if I could hand them out. On the surface, this seemed like an easily reachable goal, based on the love of trade-show attendees for all that is free. However, by the show’s final hour, the only people walking by are other exhibitors getting ready to pack up. The odds of giving away the last four books were looking pretty long. I only needed to get rid of one book every 15 minutes, but I wasn’t so sure that was going to happen. Suddenly, I saw a group of four men walking by and I shouted out, “Would you like a book listing all the racetracks in the US and Canada?” Unfortunately, I was rejected and they kept on walking. Fifteen or so minutes passed, and we still had all 4 books. There went my average. Five minutes later, two twenty-something men came by, and each was thrilled to take a copy. Two down, two more to go…

Within minutes, another gentleman approached our booth, and another book disappeared. Now, there was one last lonesome book on the podium, and there was no way just one book was getting shipped back to HPD. Approximately 30 seconds later another gentleman approached and began talking to us. I was determined not to allow him to walk away without his very own copy of the Honda Performance/HPD National Speedway Directory. As he finished talking and began to back away from the podium in anticipation of leaving, I reached out and offered the prestigious last copy. His eyes lit up (as did mine, to tell you the truth) and he happily accepted. Success! We did it! All 484 directories given away and on their way to homes across the world. (Yes, the world. There was definitely an international presence at PRI.) I told you these giveaways are a sport; or, more accurately, a marathon! (Hey, it is the closest I will ever get to participating in one.)
So, as the last crate was closed and we gathered up our belongings to march our sweaty, tired bodies back to the hotel (they turn off the air conditioning to the convention center once the show is over), we reflected on our first year of trade-show presence. Most of us were green to the whole trade-show experience at the beginning, but by the end of PRI, we had learned some very valuable lessons. Wear comfortable shoes; take part in preventative maintenance (i.e. wear band-aids and extra-thick socks); come prepared with anti-bacterial hand sanitizer; enjoy every “good ole days” story any racer had to offer; and take in all of the visual stimulation trade-shows are famous for, because it will be a few months before the next race season kicks off and hey, you need something to hold you over.

I have had a great time getting my feet wet in what is certainly a world of its own … the trade show. I never would have thought that automotive/motorsport trade-shows were in my future, but somehow, it was meant to be. Thus far, I have been to two shows in two months and run into two people from high school that I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years. The trade show stars must be aligned and perhaps there is more in store for me in the future. As for now, all I know for sure is that HPD and the Honda Racing/HPD group have barely reached the tip of the iceberg in terms of public appearances. We have a lot planned for 2010, but you have to stay tuned to find out all the details. Until next time… Jenn, OUT!

PRI Blog – Day 2 (12/11/09)

The show opened this morning with a herd of people once again making its way methodically down the aisle; row by row, booth by booth. Ahhh, Day 2 of the PRI show is now open.

There was a steady crowd streaming through the convention center today. So far, we have gone through approximately 700 spark-plug keychains (a show favorite!), 352 Honda Racing/HPD Speedway Directories and endless numbers of Honda Racing/HPD decals. We hope to pass out the rest of our stock tomorrow because the less we have, the less we have to ship.

One incident I didn’t mention from Thursday: Sandy Shamlian from Quicksilver RacEngines fell though the wall of our back meeting room, taking a panel down with him. Apparently, Sandy tripped over the 10 or so laptop bags on the floor, causing him to lose his balance, and he placed his hand on the wall/display panel in an effort to regain his equilibrium. Sandy very quickly discovered that the panels are not solid walls and suddenly, he was on the other side of the meeting room, in the middle of an aisle, with panel in hand. Luckily, the panel was put back in place, and the only way those at the front of the booth became aware of the incident was because the entire display shook as if we were experiencing an earthquake. Seeing as we are in central Florida and not California, an earthquake wasn’t too much of a possibility. By the way, Sandy walked away with only a bruised ego.

We had a visit from another friend today. Bob Boileau is back, this time minus his brother, Al. Bob was with us at the American Honda/Honda Racing/HPD display last month at the SEMA show, and it had to be expected that he wouldn’t miss PRI. I have given Bob the title of “HPD Groupie”, mostly because he is two-for-two with his trade-show presence, and when he does arrive at our booth, he never seems to leave. (I am not saying you should, Bob … we enjoy having you!) Anyway, just as Bob likes to be known as the “2009 SCCA Runoffs Champion”, if you should see him at a track or another trade show in the near future, please feel free to call out “Hey, HPD Groupie!” and see if he answers. I am sure he will love it!

For those of you who read my last set of blogs from SEMA, you should know that I was working on my germaphobe issues, and not obsessing over sterilizing with anti-bacterial every chance I got. Well, that sounded good in theory at the time, until, a few days after returning home, I got VERY sick! Apparently, my immune system was not strong enough to rid itself of all the germs with which I came in contact at the show. This time around, I am determined not to get what my melodramatic self would call “deathly ill”, or – for reality’s sake – catch a cold, so don’t be offended if you are here at PRI and you see me using antibacterial sterilizer fairly frequently. I am determined not to get sick this time around. Let’s cross our fingers!

As the show came to an end today, the crowds seemed to depart a little more quickly than they did yesterday. I noticed that half of the convention center lights were turned off in a not-so-discreet way, in hopes that the attendees would depart a little sooner today. I was told that the lights were turned off yesterday as well, but the first day’s excitement must have been too much for the lights to compete with and the crowds hung around despite the darker convention center.

There is only one more day of PRI excitement ahead of us, and then we pack up and head back to California. So far, we haven’t seen the sun, but on the plus side, there has only been a day or so of heavy humidity, so I guess this native Californian shouldn’t complain. Maybe the sun will peek out for our last day at PRI. We shall wait and see…

Friday, December 11, 2009

PRI Blog – Day 1 (12/10/09)

Here we go again. Different city; different show; completely different ambiance.

Today was Opening Day of the PRI Trade Show in Orlando, FL. Compared to SEMA in Las Vegas, the lights are dimmer, the colors are more subdued and there is one major “thing” missing… trade show girls, which apparently are not permitted, although a few have snuck in.

We have had our share of passersby. So far we have seen Tomas Scheckter, Buddy Rice, Duncan Dayton, and Scott Goodyear; and Dan Wheldon was here in the Honda Racing/HPD booth signing autographs. Some stopped by to say “Hi” and some checked out our new line of performance parts. Tomas and Buddy were here to compete in the CKI All-Star Karting Classic on Thursday night. The go-karts were still running at 9:30 p.m., so it sounded like they had fun!

One other major, very noticeable difference between SEMA and PRI is the lack of giveaway suitcases rolling around the Orange County (FL) Convention Center. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely giveaways, but it is not as much of a sport here as it was at SEMA. Speaking of giveaways, HPD has added a new giveaway to its lineup this time around. We (and when I say ‘we’, I mean HPD’s Machine Shop) manufactured replica IRL engine spark plugs out of aluminum for use as keychains. Coming from someone who is not into trinkets or chotchkies, they are definitely cool. One show attendee said that they were the coolest giveaways that he has seen in three years. They are definitely a hit.

Something memorable from today concerned a very spirited debate that took place in our booth, and ‘spirited’ is saying it nicely. For reasons of propriety, I must refrain from quoting the exact conversation, but it was very interesting. The debate began between two gentlemen who were on opposite sides of the Formula F/Fit engine debate. One was a fierce defender of Honda’s new program and the other was concerned over the heritage of what was formerly known as the Formula Ford series (he was also fueled by the many rumors circulating over the Internet). At one point, we HPD associates thought we might have to stand back because fists would begin flying, but I am happy to announce that the disagreement was resolved and both combatants went on their merry, trade show way. There is never a dull moment...

As the doors of the convention center opened this morning, something very interesting occurred. There were display rows on the convention floor that were gridlocked, and others that didn’t have a person in them. Soon, it was discovered that show attendees take a very clear and apparent path. A strategic attack, one might say, in their route through PRI. Maybe it is this the way at all trade shows, but seeing as this is only HPD’s second appearance and we were located in a far corner at the first, this discovery was new to us. This time around, our booth is located in the second row, about 10 or so booths deep (#5525 for those of you attending), so we have a great view of this herd of people.

As 6 p.m. rolled around, the crowds VERY slowly diminished. Unlike at SEMA, PRI does not clear out immediately at the end of each show day. Normally, this would be perfectly fine with us. We are happy to sit and chat with anyone who stops by. However, on this particular night there was a free Happy Hour going on in the lobby of the convention center. I am sorry, but after a long day standing in the booth, free appetizers are very appealing. So, free appetizers it was.

Friday would be another full day of giveaways, crowds and crazy adventures… or so we hoped! Until then…

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Honda Performance Development, Inc. to Begin Sale of Performance Parts for Racing

Company Will Manufacture a Variety of Components In-House

Honda Performance Development, Inc. (HPD), the racing arm of American Honda Motor Company, Inc., will begin offering performance automotive parts for sale to registered racers competing in amateur and entry-level professional racing series, it was announced today.

The announcement took place concurrent with the annual Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show in Orlando, Fla. HPD is offering performance parts for racing as a component of its grassroots motorsports initiative, announced in July.

“We at HPD are extremely proud of the legacy we have established in open-wheel and sports-car racing,” said Erik Berkman, HPD president. “One of the cornerstones of our new motorsports initiative has been to establish a connection between our accomplishments in premier series and those of the many competitors who support Honda and Acura through the club racing and entry-level professional ranks.

“We believe that the manufacture and sale of racing performance parts by HPD are integral to helping us establish that connection.”

The product line will be comprised of HPD-designed parts and branded components. Through the validation process, HPD will rigorously test parts and components to confirm their performance and give consumers the confidence that comes from HPD’s years of success at the top levels of motorsport.

HPD plans to manufacture many of the performance parts in-house, including camber and caster plates, steering and front lower-arm bushings. HPD worked with various suppliers to develop front stabilizer bushings, rear stabilizer bars, engine mounts, transmission differentials, and brake fluid. HPD will co-brand components such as brake pads, brake lines, and coil springs with established leaders in the performance parts industry such as Cobalt Friction Technologies, Goodridge, and Eibach.

The Grand-Am Series has approved the majority of components announced today for use on the 2006-2010 model Honda Civic Si vehicles competing in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner (ST) class. HPD has also developed performance parts such as brake pads, brake lines, and rear differentials for Honda S2000s competing in the SCCA T3 class.

HPD performance parts are expected to become available in early 2010, with the exception of the engine mounts, rear stabilizer bars, and front stabilizer bushings, which will be available in the spring of 2010. Additions to the product line will be offered as the market warrants and will be posted on the HondaRacing.com/HPD website for registered Honda racers.

Honda Performance Development (HPD) is Honda’s racing company within North America. Founded in 1993, and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for Honda’s high-performance racing cars and engines. In addition to its new grassroots motorsports business, HPD is the single engine supplier to the IndyCar Series and spearheaded Acura’s championship-winning efforts in the 2009 American Le Mans Series.

Honda Performance Development, Inc. Broadens Scope of Honda Racing Line Benefits

Tech Support to Be Offered to Registered Racers Through ServiceExpress

American Honda Motor Company, Inc., through its racing arm, Honda Performance Development, Inc., is expanding the scope of benefits available to members of its Honda Racing Line program for amateur and entry-level professional racers.

American Honda’s service publication support is now available online to Honda Racing Line members 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through ServiceExpress, Honda’s official online reference source for the independent repair community. ServiceExpress will offer Honda Racing Line members the most up-to-date service information, and will make it available at the same time it becomes available to authorized Honda/Acura dealers and repair centers.

“We have been very pleased with the growth in registration since we launched the Honda Racing Line program this past July,” said HPD President Erik Berkman. “We are working regularly to expand the list of benefits available to Honda Racing Line members, and are announcing this link to factory-authorized technical support from ServiceExpress as the first of numerous advantages which will be available to them in the future.”

ServiceExpress, created to provide professional technicians with up-to-date details regarding Honda and Acura vehicles, will offer the following reference materials to Honda Racing Line members:

· Service manual diagnostics and repair procedures;
· Service news and bulletins;
· Diagnostic trouble codes and troubleshooting procedures;
· Parts specifications and service limits;
· Electrical troubleshooting manuals for Honda and Acura vehicles;
· Body repair manuals and installation procedures;

· Electronic owners’ manuals.

Launched in July, 2009, the Honda Racing Line is a program targeted at licensed participants in sanctioned amateur and entry-level professional racing. The Honda Racing Line was formed to provide its members with a direct connection to Honda Performance Development and its unparalleled record of success at the highest levels of motorsport. Competitors may register for the Honda Racing Line through HondaRacingLine.com.

Friday, December 4, 2009

THR-W Returns to the 25 Hours of Thunderhill Race - This Weekend

Team Honda Research – West has entered an Acura in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill road race, looking for a podium finish in the very competitive E0 classification.

Team Honda Research – West (THR-W) returns to the NASA Pro Racing 25 Hours of Thunderhill race this weekend with the goal of finishing on the podium in the extremely competitive E0 classification. THR-W has participated in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill since 2004, including collaborations with sister team THR-Ohio, and has finished first, second and fourth in class at past events. This year’s effort is led by 2008 25 Hours E0 Class Runner-up Lawrence Hwang, who hopes to better his 2008 finish (second in class, third overall). Honda Canada associate Scott Nichols, retired American Honda associate Bob Endicott and Honda R&D Americas, Inc. associate Steve Neese will handle driving duties in addition to Hwang. The race will begin at 11a.m. on Saturday December 5, 2009 at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, California. The 25-hour race is the longest endurance road race in the U.S and annually attracts factory-supported and top privateer racing teams. Highlights of the race will be televised on the Versus Network on a date to be determined.

THR-W is the officially sanctioned employee road-racing team of Honda R&D Los Angeles - comprised entirely of Honda associates who strive to exhibit in themselves and their vehicles the challenging spirit first demonstrated by company founder Soichiro Honda. The team and its sister team, THR-Ohio, is an expression of the racing spirit that is a fundamental part of the Honda’s DNA. Operating under the mantra, “We develop what we race, and race what we develop,” the team strives to translate lessons learned on the track into new-vehicle development as part of the “fun-to-drive” character found in Honda products. The fact that Honda associates are themselves enthusiasts and racers is an indication that they have the interests of enthusiasts in mind when they bring new vehicles to market. THR-W was founded in 1996. Additional information about the team can be found at http://thrw.hra.com/.

Through its new Honda Racing Line program, Honda Racing/HPD provides support and incentive programs to Honda and Acura racers competing at the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Runoffs and in other forms of grassroots motorsports competition. Additional Honda Racing Line details can be found at http://racing.honda.com/hpd.

Team Honda Research-West is proud to represent, test and use products from the following companies: Honda Research & Development Americas, Inc.; American Honda Motor Co., Inc; Honda Racing/HPD; Hoosier Tires; The Westside Group; H&R Springs; Brembo Sport; Baja Designs, Inc.; Skunk2; Traqmate; Hondata; APR; Exedy; Recaro; Red Line Oil; Tyga-Box Inc.; Prototype Racing, Inc.; HMS Motorsport; Schroth Racing safety harnesses; Goodridge; ASR; Porterfield; King Motorsports and Aquapel Glass Treatment by PPG Industries, Inc.

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