HPD Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2011

1500cc HONDA FIT for the Canadian Formula Tour 1600 Season in 2012

*translated from a French language post by MaxMarcel

The series FORMULA TOUR 1600 Inc. is pleased to announce a technical change with the arrival of the new, modern 1500cc Honda Fit engine, specially developed by Honda Performance Development. Formula Tour 1600 Series Inc. announces that the Honda Fit 1500cc engine will be allowed for 2012.

More than 61 drivers registered to compete in Formula Tour 1600 in 2011, with an average attendance of more than 35 cars. The new, modern Honda engine will be allowed at each of its 12 races over 6 weekends in 2012. The Ford Kent engine will continue. This engine will always be part of F1600, and will probably continue to be used in most of the chassis. But the more modern Honda engine will be really good to attract new racers coming into the series, from karting and elsewhere. From 2012, the Ford Kent engine will have competition from the Honda Fit for sure.This link between Formula Tour 1600 and Honda/HPD Los Angeles -- already well known for their successful IndyCar engines -- is part of the development strategy the series wants to put forward for the next five years. The questions of some regarding interest in our series can now disappear because they have the choice of two engines. This is a very good news for people who have no interest into Ford Kent engine.

The main specifications / specicications:

Ford KENTHonda L15A7 (Fit)
Displacement16001500
IntakeCarburetorThrottle Body, Restricted
Valve816
Cam LocationBlockHead
Chargingn/aAlternator
Block MaterialFeAl
Head MaterialAlAl
HP115 hp115 hp
TORQUE112 ft/lbs.112 ft/lbs.
Max RPM70006800
Management Systemn/aHonda ECU
Approximate Prices$12,000$15,000
Minimum Maintenance1 Year3 Years


RESTRICTION: The Honda Fit MUST use a restrictor of 30.5 mm and is original (all parts) and no changes are allowed. This plate is given by Formula Tour / restrictor plate of 30.5 mm IS mandatory for Honda Fit. This one Will Be supply by Formula Tour.Motor sealed: avoid inspection by race and may be done by preparers include: Quicksilver, Britain West, Mortimer Racing, Remillard. This option is not mandatory / Seal engine IS RECOMMENDED Eliminate tech inspection and purpose It is not mandatory.

For more information please contact the Formula Tour Series at 819-350-9750.

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Honda-Powered Formula F Coming to Canada For 2012

Already a success in the U.S., the Honda Formula F engine will be introduced to Canadian racing in 2012, as the 1.5-liter Honda Fit-based power plant has been approved for competition in both the Quebec-based Formula Tour 1600 series and the Ontario Formula Ford Championship.

Developed in 2009 as a modern alternative to the long-out-of-production 1.6-liter Ford “Kent” engine, the Honda Formula F engine is based on the L15A7 engine found in the 2009 and newer Honda Fit. It features a modern, fuel-injected design with superior service life, improved parts availability and lower operating costs.

Equipped with a Honda-developed Engine Control Unit (ECU) and 30.5mm air inlet restrictor, it is designed to match Kent engine performance figures and can be installed in a wide variety of new and existing Formula F chassis.

More than 50 Honda-powered Formula Fs can now be found competing in SCCA Club Racing and two separate SCCA-sanctioned professional race series: The F1600 Formula F Championship Series and the Pacific Formula F Super Series.

In Canada, a total of 61 racers took part in the 2011 Formula Tour 1600 Series at circuits including the historic Mont Tremblant, the Trois-Rivieres street circuit and as a supporting event for the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

In the neighboring province to the west, the 14-race Ontario Formula Ford Championship featured up-and-coming stars such as Trent Hindman and Mikhail Goikhberg in 2011, as the young drivers tested their skills against veteran open-wheel competitors. Canadian IndyCar stars Scott Goodyear and Paul Tracy are both graduates of the series.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

HPD Remembers Dan Wheldon

In trying to figure out how we at HPD would honor our friend Dan Wheldon, we all began to search our archives to see if we could find images and stories that would best depict the wonderful and generous man, not just the racer, we all knew. We came across an email that Dan had sent to former HPD President Robert Clarke that Dan asked to be forwarded to HPD and Honda associates. We thought we would share Dan's email with you and allow Dan's own words to truly convey the man we all had the pleasure of working with and more importantly, the pleasure of knowing over the past decade...

(Sent 12/23/2005 at 3:50 PM)

Robert,

Please, could you pass this email on to everyone at Honda and HPD.

I wanted to take the time before this holiday to thank you and everyone at Honda and HPD for all of the effort and continued hard work that was put in to help me attain my goals and realise a dream of winning both the Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IRL Championship. I value my relationship with Honda immensely and understand that you certainly play a huge role in this.

I am also delighted to know that I will be continuing my relationship with Honda and am excited and very motivated to attain more success in a different situation. It will be strange, I must say, knowing that there will not be the competition between us and other engine manufacturers out there, I always enjoyed that.

I would also like to say how proud I was of Matt and “clutch” who worked with me this year. They always pushed me to make sure I had fine tuned everything available to me and because of that I attribute a big part of my success to them also.

I look forward to seeing you all at the track next year and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Best wishes and thank you once again, your driver,

Dan


Now, some stories and fond memories of Dan from current and former HPD and Honda associates who had personal relationships with Dan throughout the years...

From Erik Berkman, HPD President:
"Dan was the best ambassador for Honda we could ever hope for. Not only was he a winner, but he was very engaging, and he worked tirelessly to promote Honda.

I have fond memories of meetings with Dan in the pits or engineering trailers at the track, and at HPD. But my favorite memories are from Dan's visit to Honda Hospitality. He felt comfortable there, and made everyone feel comfortable in return. The media, and friends of Honda truly looked forward for Dan and Susie to stop by to visit and relax. They were family. They still are. We will all miss Dan so very much. I hope Susie and the boys will still visit us sometime."

From Robert Clarke, former HPD President:
"My best remembrance with Dan has to be our win at the 2004 Indy Japan event at Motegi. As you know, we had failed to win the event on the 6 previous tries. We (HPD) had tried so hard and for so long to win this very important race and it had become a monkey on our back and for many a joke within the paddock. Many were wondering if we would ever win it. Dan was still a young IRL driver and the other AGR drivers always gave him a hard time (see separate story below) and they (Dario, Tony & Bryan) wanted to be the first to win this coveted race for Honda and thereby winning an even more special relationship with Honda.

Everyone was so happy when Dan won. All at HPD, HM, HGT, AGR, TRM were so happy and it was a huge celebration. When Dan visited the HM hospitality tent after the race there was a ceremony that included champagne and a beautifully prepared cake. The other AGR drivers decided to put Dan's face in it and from there it turned into a huge food fight. I don't think the Honda Japan staff had ever seen anything like it. Their initial reaction was one of horror (that the cake could be destroyed like that), but many soon joined in on the fun. Of all our victory celebrations over the years (including Indy) I do not think any was a larger or more special one. We had finally won Motegi and we were so proud to have done so for the Japanese Honda fans."

Side bar:

2003 - Dan's first IndyJapan

"The drivers always had a dinner with Mr. Kawamoto (former president of Honda Motor Co., Ltd.) and Mr. Amemiya (former president and CEO of AHM) on the Thursday night before the race weekend. Because it was Dan's first he had no experience with what it was like. The AGR guys tricked Dan and told him that it was a very formal dinner and that he needed to wear a coat and tie. Dan didn't bring a tie and ended up buying one from the hotel gift shop for something like $100 - it was all they had. Later when they met at the Japanese restaurant adjacent to the hotel Dan found that all the other drivers, and the Japan staff, were in jeans and t-shirts and he walks in dressed in slacks, sports coat and a tie to huge laughter! It was the joke of the paddock that weekend and was reminisced about at all the remaining Motegi events."

From Jack Spurney:
"I have many colorful and wonderful memories of Dan: Years ago, flirting with my daughter at the Honda Hospitality tent at Indy, much to the amusement of my other daughter; joking about his new “un-Brit-like” (his words) teeth on a Drivers Day at HPD; and his amazing finish and victory at the 2011 Indy 500.

I have friends in the Tampa/St Petersburg area where Dan lived who have no association with racing yet talk about how he was a shining star in the community he called home who selflessly made himself available to support worthy causes, even donating a wing at the local All Children’s Hospital. “Dan Wheldon was a great champion – both in sport and in his community,” said a statement from the Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg on Monday, October 17, the day following the accident.

Anyone who knew Dan talks about his warmth, ebullience, charm and affability. He was one of the most genuine persons I have ever known; a very special person.

I had the privilege of knowing Dan for over five years watching him grow from a young, brash, and highly talented driver into a mature charismatic gentleman, loving husband and father; clearly Susie, Sebastian and Oliver became the center of his universe. Just recently, in the paddock at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway before the incident that took his life, with Susie and the kids in tow, he was talking about The Five Million Dollar Challenge; what he was focused on was not the potential for his own personal gain, but rather about how splitting the purse with some lucky fan would instantly change their life for the better. That was Dan Weldon. He was a great driver and wonderful, generous man. God only knows how much we will miss him. RIP Dan."

From Marc Sours, HPD General Manager:
"Dan was a significant contributor to the success that Honda gained with its current IndyCar engine. He was the first to test the engine in the fall of 2002; and, he demonstrated its merits with numerous race victories and Indy 500 wins. Yet it's my memories of him off track that I'll value the most. I first met Dan as an F2000 competitor. He was an amiable young man, frequently smiling; traits which he kept once he made it to the professional ranks. An engaging person who grew up, made it to the big time, and never seemed to loose track of who he was in the process."

From T.E. McHale, American Honda Manager of Motorsports PR:
My Dan Wheldon moment occurred after the Centennial Indianapolis 500 this past May. After winning the prestigious race for the second time, Dan had just concluded an exuberant celebratory victory lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He returned to Victory Circle to begin the Hat Dance -- that incessant procession of ballcaps and photo ops, which, for understandable reasons, lasts about five times as long at Indianapolis as at any other track on the IndyCar Series circuit.

Dan had just stepped into the cockpit, and had the first hat in hand, when he looked to his left and saw me standing along the railing that divided the race car from the rabble.

He placed the hat on the car's nose, got out, walked around to my side of the car and grabbed me. I barely remember what he said to me, but I do remember hearing a loud cheer from the grandstand above us in Victory Circle. And I remember thinking, "That's pretty cool. Some people I know are happy that I'm getting this moment."

It wasn't until we separated, and Dan resumed the headwear ritual, that I looked above me to see that I did not recognize a single face among those who had been doing the cheering. Whether or not it is true, I'm going to continue in the belief that those spectators were paying tribute to the emotion of a moment between the Indianapolis 500 winner and some guy none of them had ever met. And that blew me away.

Just before he returned to his car, Daniel and I spent time crying in each other's arms. We were crying tears of joy, feeling all the pain and all the hard work it took to get to that moment, and celebrating all the promise the future would hold for him.

After last Sunday afternoon, I am not ashamed to admit, I have cried in many other arms, as well.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dan Wheldon Remembered

“For everyone in the Honda family, this is a day of tragedy and incalculable loss. For us, Dan was more than a driver, he was a member of the Honda family. But most of all, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, wife Susie and two young sons. Dan had a passion for motorsports and a wonderful personality that made him a friend to everyone in the racing community. His talent and dedication were an inspiration to us all. We will miss him terribly, and everyone at Honda extends our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and fans across the world.”
-Erik Berkman, President, Honda Performance Development

I RACE A HONDA: CHRIS BOVIS

I’m Chris Bovis and I’ve been competing in the Sports Car Club of America’s GT Lite category for about five years now, racing a Honda CRX.

So far, the highlight has been winning the 2007 National Championship in the GT Lite class. But my racing life goes back well before that. In fact, I go back a lot longer than my age would suggest.

My father, George, raced a Sunbeam Alpine and Lotus Cortina before I came along, and got involved in the administrative side of the sport (he was eventually elected to the SCCA Board of Directors and served as Chairman). So, I grew up in SCCA and attended my first racing event, a drivers’ school at Blackhawk Farms Raceway, at around four months old.

When I turned 16, I started doing autocross events – which I was absolutely horrible at, I have to say. At 18, as a rite of passage, I was given the opportunity to attend drivers’ school and figure out what racing is all about. Needless to say, I stuck with it.

There were two avenues that linked me with Honda from the very beginning. One was former National Champion Fred Fiala, a close friend of the family, who was selling a Showroom Stock CRX. The other link was another National Champion, Jim Dentici, and his King Motorsports shop. Jim was building some really good, solid Honda racecars, so we bought the car from Fred and brought it to King Motorsports to prepare. I met my other teammate, Bob Clark, through Jim, and he remains my crew chief today.

The link to Jim Dentici, Bob Clark and Honda is what keeps me on track today. I drive one of the cars Jim built, and he still builds my engines and preps my car. Plus, he keeps me honest on the track by racing me hard and often beating me, as he did recently at the June Sprints.

I raced a variety of cars between that first CRX we bought from Fred Fiala and the GTL CRX I have now. I raced in the Improved Touring category for about eight years, then in E Production with a King Motorsports-built Honda Prelude. But when I had an opportunity to buy one of Jim’s Mugen-built tubeframe CRXs – I now own two – I jumped at it, and that became my National Championship-winning car.

So that link to Jim has been critical to my racing success. He had quite a reputation for building good cars and being one heck of a race driver, so I grew up with a healthy respect for him. Jim always gives me good equipment and I believe he takes a great deal of pride in seeing another generation of racers exploit the work he’s done in the past. I know he views his cars as his legacy in some sense. We fight hard on track, and there’s a huge ego battle between the two of us, but it’s all good-natured, it’s all on the track, it’s all for fun and it’s all for everybody’s success.

We’re looking for more success at this year’s SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. To be honest, we have a bit of a battle ahead. The GT Lite rules dictate a smaller engine restrictor plate this year, which has actually slowed our lap times by about eight seconds on the four-mile course. We’ve been struggling to figure out how these single-inlet restrictors work, and what kind of engine configuration we need. I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to say we’ve built more engines this year trying to figure it out than we have in my entire prior racing life.

That said, I wouldn’t have entered the Runoffs and committed the time and resources if I didn’t think we’d do well. Until everybody shows up and shows what they have, we don’t really know. But I do have a great deal of faith in Jim’s ability to build engines.

Beyond this year, we might actually look at some type of historic racing. The cars are still competitive in SCCA Club Racing, but these were significant cars with the Mugen input they had. They’re FIA-spec cars, constructed by people who moved into the Formula 1 world. We think it’s time to start showing how exotic these tubeframe cars were, establishing their legacy and how important they were in the history of North American motorsports.

Because they are custom-built, most of the parts are, too. That keeps us from taking advantage of some of the benefits that the Honda Racing Line program offers grassroots racers. But I can’t begin to explain how valuable it is to have help from the Honda guys in lobbying for rules changes, interpreting the rules, and helping us to adapt to whatever adjustments we have to make over the winter.

Having a relationship with somebody like Lee Niffenegger (Senior Engineer at Honda Performance Development), for example … being able to send an e-mail and say, “What do you think about this? Are there better ways of doing it?” is important. Having someone within Honda Performance Development who has greater resources, a greater reach, to bounce ideas off, or to ask for a broader view of products or technology … those kinds of things are very valuable to us.

I hope that, along with a little luck, those kinds of resources, plus having the car- and engine-building expertise of Jim Dentici at my back, are going to lead me to another National Championship in the near future.

If you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program at www.hondaracingline.com.

Honda Racing Line is proud to offer original equipment replacement parts, performance parts and crate engines to Honda and Acura grassroots racers in the entry-level through professional ranks.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Andersen Wins Inaugural Pacific Formula F Super Series Title


The Pacific Formula F Super Series wrapped up October 7-9 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway road course, with veteran California Formula F racer Jerry Andersen claiming the inaugural series title on the strength of a pair of second-place finishes.

A highlight of the fourth and final doubleheader race weekend of 2011 was the appearance of international racing star Simon Pagenaud, making a guest appearance aboard a Piper Honda Formula F fielded by PR1 Motorsports. Pagenaud reveled in this return to his racing roots, as he four-wheel-drifted the Piper to a pair of victories at the desert road course.

“I was just 13 when I first drove a Formula F in France, but driving this Formula F Piper-Honda was just as much fun as I remembered,” Pagenaud said. “These days, I am more used to the high-performance power of IndyCars and prototypes, so I had to return to the ‘basics’ and focus on the fundamentals of racing. Momentum and precision were the key words! Whatever inputs you made with your feet and hands, the car would react instantly and perfectly; it would give you a lesson at every corner.”

Pagenaud was one of three different Pacific Formula F race winners this year, with Jeff Sakowicz and Jon Brandstad also scoring two wins apiece during the season. Pagenaud’s victories last weekend were the first for a Honda-powered Formula F in the Pacific series.

But it was consistent finishes – two second-place runs at Las Vegas coupled with a fourth-place finish at the second Buttonwillow race in May – that clinched the championship for Andersen. In all, 10 drivers scored championship points this year, giving the series a solid base upon which to build for its second season in 2012.

In 2012, plans call for the Formula F Super Series to again run as a separate class with doubleheader events at four of the six Pacific F2000 race weekends, totaling a championship run of eight races. The fields will continue to feature both the Honda and traditional Kent power plants and chassis from Piper, Swift, Van Diemen and other Formula F manufacturers.

“I recommend this product to any racer! Whether your dream is to race in IndyCar or some other professional category, or if you simply are passionate about the sport and want to drive an open-wheel racer, then Formula F is what you need,” Pagenaud enthused after his race weekend in the Piper Honda. “This is a great ‘weapon’ for either professional or amateur SCCA events. It definitely is where you should ‘use up your shoes.’”

More information on the Pacific Formula F Super Series is available on the web at www.pacificF2000.com.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

I RACE A HONDA: MIKE MOSER

I’m Mike Moser, and I race a Honda CRX. In 2010, I took second place in H Production at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, and this year I’m looking to do one better.

Last year was my first year back in the car – one of my buddies raced it in 2009 – and we’ve done a lot of work. We made a lot of changes to the suspension, and built a race motor for it; before that, I was racing with a bone-stock motor.

It took me some time to get used to all the changes and get more comfortable with the car. Finishing second to veteran racer Steve Sargis last year is nothing to be ashamed of – he’s a great guy and a great driver. But, hopefully, this year we can change that. I was dealing with some issues last year: the transmission kept popping out of gear and I had some difficulties with my air-fuel ratio. Plus, we’ve been doing some more development work on the car this year. I’ve also had more seat time at Road America – I recently won the June Sprints there (pictured) – and have been trying some different lines. The CRX has been stout and really, really good, so I think my chances are good this year.

My CRX and I have come a long way since I built it and started racing it in 2002. It took a couple years to get the car developed and get me up to speed, and accustomed to racing on slick tires. It was a new experience, because previously I raced on dirt and ice!

I started competing early, doing motocross when I was 12 and 13. Then there was no more racing for awhile, until I took up dirt track racing. At Hales Corner Speedway, I met Lawrence Loshak, who encouraged me to try ice racing. If his name doesn’t sound familiar, Lawrence was one of the first to successfully campaign a new-era, front-wheel-drive car in the SCCA Production classes, doing well with a Honda Prelude in E Production.

So, I gave ice racing a go, and from the first lap I was hooked. In my first season, I won the Rookie of the Year award, then took a couple of championships after that. It was funny, because I was beating guys in the Modified class, with a bone-stock Honda. Lawrence and I would always finish first and second overall, with him winning Modified.

Ice racing really got me hooked on Hondas. You can’t beat the reliability. Then Lawrence got his Prelude, and I helped him develop that car for four or five years. He won the E Production National Championship in 2006, and has now moved on to Sports Racing (he won the title there, too, last year).

Now, I hope it’s my turn for a National Championship. But, really, I just like to run my own race, and where I place is where I place. I’m just trying to have fun at it.

The Honda Racing Line program has been a big help. The parts discount is important, and the program is also helping to pay a little of the money we spend on racing through contingency. We get a little something back to put toward tires or fuel.

That’s just one of the things that keeps me in the Honda family. I like being loyal and Honda has been great to me. I like to go with a good product, and I’ve found out Hondas are the best. If you’re going to spend your money, you might as well spend it where you get the best bang for your buck.

If you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program at www.hondaracingline.com.

Honda Racing Line is proud to offer original equipment replacement parts, performance parts and crate engines to Honda and Acura grassroots racers in the entry-level through professional ranks.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pacific Formula F Super Series: To Infineon and Beyond


The Pacific Formula F Super Series ventured to Infineon Raceway for Rounds 5 and 6 of its inaugural season, and last weekend, it was Jon Brandstad in his BJF Racing Swift DB-6 taking the victories and a narrow, two-point lead in the championship, with one race weekend remaining.

Brandstad ran virtually uncontested to the Race 1 victory, while series newcomer John Robinson (Piper/Honda) and Doug Brenner (Van Diemen/Honda) fought over second place, with Brenner gaining the ultimate upper hand. Although he was late to the grid and started from the pit lane, Alex Schutte at least took the honor of recording the fastest race lap in his Piper/Honda, en route to a fourth-place finish. Schutte then headed off to a nearby sprint car race that evening!

On Sunday, it was Brandstad winning again in a near-perfect performance, leading from the pole and holding off Schutte over the 12-lap distance to score his second victory of the weekend. Schutte again set fast lap in finishing second, while Brenner rounded out the top three.

For Robinson, a two-time SCCA Formula F national champion and regular in the Eastern U.S.-based Formula F Championship Series, his first visit to the Infineon Raceway road course, located in Sonoma, Calif., was reward enough.

“A third and a fourth, when I’d never seen this track before, is a pretty good result,” Robinson said after Sunday’s race. “Thanks to the guys at Fast Forward Components, I had the great opportunity to compare the Piper/Honda to the Swift DB-6 I run back east, and race at this fantastic circuit. I think Infineon is now one of my favorite tracks.”

The Formula F Super Series runs as a separate class at four of the six Pacific F2000 race weekends, totaling a championship run of eight races. The fields feature both the new Honda and traditional Kent powerplants.

The final round of 2011 takes place October 7-9 at the Las Vegas Speedway road course in Nevada. More information on the Pacific Formula F Super Series is available on the web at www.pacificF2000.com.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

I RACE AN ACURA: NICK ESAYIAN

My name’s Nick Esayian, and I’m the driver of the No. 34 RealTime Racing Acura TSX in the GTS class of the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge Championships.

I’ve been with the RealTime Racing team on and off for nearly a decade. Coincidentally, when I first got hooked on motorsports and started autocrossing in Wisconsin in 1989, my instructor was Peter (P.D.) Cunningham, the owner of RealTime and now holder of six World Challenge Championships.

I got to be good friends with Peter and RealTime crew chief Nathan Bonneau. I saw my first SCCA Club race a short time later, and I was hooked. I began club racing and did that for many years, with some pro racing sprinkled in. In 1995, I moved to San Diego and started my own direct-response consumer marketing company. I also continued racing and was quite successful, winning a lot of races.

After watching some of the World Challenge races, I wanted more. I couldn’t afford it at the time but, a few years later, I reached a turning point. My friend and teammate was killed in a racing accident in Phoenix and, at that point, I decided it was time to take it to the next level and be the best I could be, or give it up entirely. I knew I had the talent to compete on the pro stage, but I needed to break that goal down into manageable steps to get there.

My first World Challenge race didn’t go quite as planned, but it set me on the path to future success. I was at Sebring and the team I was racing with couldn’t get the car to work. I walked over to my friends at RealTime and asked if they had a car available.

They did. I started at the back, passed two-thirds of the field, won the Hard Charger Award, and the rest is history.

Except for a couple of seasons with a different team and manufacturer in 2008-’09, my professional racing career has been completely with RealTime. Unless I was in a different series – and I love World Challenge for the fact that there’s no risk of a teammate wadding up my car and me going home, without ever getting into the seat for the race – I can’t envision racing with anyone else.

RealTime runs a race team similar to the way the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds run a top-flight military aerobatic team. Everything is catalogued, the planning done well in advance. They don’t wait for a part to break; they know the lifespan of every part, they put in a margin of error and replace a part before it can go bad. They simply have the most talented crew, management staff and driver lineup in World Challenge.

I think there were five of us racing in 2005, and there were 10 races on the schedule, for a total of 50 RealTime race starts. Only two times did a car not finish, and that was due to accidents. The attrition rate in World Challenge at the time was 25-30 percent. Our finishing rate was a tribute to the cars we were driving, Acuras, and this team being head-and-shoulders above every other team in terms of preparation and managing the fluid situations that we find at the track.

That said, my first years were tough in the 40-car fields that World Challenge featured at the time. You go from winning at the National level in Club racing, kicking everybody’s butt, then show up at a pro event and everybody’s good. It’s like a college football player going into the NFL. I was in the wrong car in the wrong year – driving an older RSX when the TSX was the latest and greatest. In Club racing, you could drive your way out of being in the wrong car. If you were a good driver, you would be able to minimize the differences in equipment.

In Pro racing, that’s not the case. Everyone was extremely talented, the fields were really deep and there was a lot of factory involvement.

I went in and was overconfident, thinking I was going to wake up after traveling in late with no sleep and be able to win. It was a rude awakening to get kicked around and be in the middle of the pack for the better part of the first year. Once I realized I needed to understand setup beyond alignment and tire pressures, that’s when I started to maximize my potential and realize that setup was a huge part of this style of racing, because you couldn’t qualify last and work your way up to first. That was the biggest change, the talent pool and that there was no margin of error in terms of your team selection, car selection and setup, and the knowledge of how to communicate what the car is doing to an engineer.

Learning that, I progressed to run at the front. I’ve won some races, but my biggest accomplishment isn’t mine alone. While racing is an individual sport, I have to say I am most proud of helping to win the 2005 Manufacturers’ Championship for Acura. Everybody contributed points to winning that championship. To contribute to that championship, with that group of drivers (PD, Pierre Kleinubing, Brandon Davis and Eric Curran) when there were grids of 35 or 40 cars, that’s a real accomplishment.

I could say winning my first World Challenge race ranks up there, or cite some hard-fought battles where starting in the back due to bad luck in qualifying and running all the way to the front after a crash at the start fall in there. But those Manufacturers’ Championships with RealTime – I think I’ve been a part of four – where you’ve been part of a team and contributed to a dynasty in World Challenge … No one can take that away.

I look forward to contributing to more.

Look for Nick Esayian, RealTime Racing Racing and the rest of the Pirelli World Challenge competitors on the West Coast at Laguna Seca Sept. 16-18. On the East Coast, the series has its finale on Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at Road Atlanta. Or you can catch the series on VERSUS.

And if you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda Power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program at www.hondaracingline.com.

Honda Racing Line is proud to offer original equipment replacement parts, performance parts and crate engines to Honda and Acura grassroots racers in the entry-level through professional ranks.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Spec: RaceAtom Presented By Honda Racing/HPD Hits the Twisty VIR North Course


The Spec: RaceAtom series returned to action on August 20/21 on the VIRginia International Raceway North Course. This was the third new-course configuration that the series has raced on in as many events. The North Course provides a stark contrast to the fast and flowing full-course layout, where the series ran in July. The North Course provides tight, technical, and blind corner-approaches, keeping the drivers on their toes.

Saturday saw clear skies, and hot weather conditions that left many drivers searching for grip on course. Competitors worked throughout the practice sessions to maximize the grip from their Hoosier R6 tires. The race was scheduled for 4:45 p.m., so only time would tell if changes made earlier in the day would pay off during the race.

With the drop of the green flag, and the sound of Honda engines accelerating up to 8200 rpm, it was apparent that it was going to be a fantastic battle, and that the cars of Aaron Elsner, Tyson Bytzek, Jim Taggart, and Ben Sinnott were not going to be content to sit back and watch. Elsner, Taggart, and Sinnott were able to jump to the inside of Bytzek and push him wide. Bytzek dropped to the fourth position.

After 10 clean laps of racing the checkered flag was thrown with Elsner, Bytzek, and Taggart taking the podium positions while Jim Osborn had his best race of the season, finishing fourth.

Sunday morning brought new challenges as the weather looked unsettled and the possibility for a rain-soaked race seemed real. Practice sessions were run under dry conditions, however the qualifying session was hit with rain drops just past halfway. Many drivers were unable to get a fast qualifying lap in prior to the rain, meaning that some quick drivers would be starting further back than accustomed.

A short delay in the schedule of track events proved to be a blessing, as dry conditions prevailed before it was time to race.

Consistency proved to be the key for Aaron Elsner as he added another win to his season with consistent laps from start to finish; however he was chased very heavily on-track by Tyson Bytzek, who would set the fastest lap of the weekend during the race. It was a mere 3.1 seconds at the line separating first from second. Jim Taggart grabbed the final podium spot, with Ben Sinnott close behind in the 4th position.

Races #7 and #8 will take place September 17/18 on the Full Course at VIRginia International Raceway.

For more information on the series please contact:
Mark Swain - TMI AutoTech, Inc.
mswain@arielatom.com
434.822.9130 x303

Monday, September 5, 2011

Introducing: Ikon - APD Motorsports

My name is Jonathan Donner; please allow me to introduce myself and our team Ikon - APD
Motorsports program.

Our story is about teamwork in campaigning two Honda drag cars this season under various sanctioning bodies, as well as an Acura circuit car in the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championships. We are also introducing the Honda Racing Line to Honda and Acura drag and “time attack” racers across the United States.

Our team this season is comprised of Jerrold Rhodes, in an H22-powered PRO FWD Honda Accord; Lisa Kubo in a D Series-powered Honda Civic; and myself, Brian Smith and Jon Krolewicz in a K24-powered Acura TSX. Our first event this season with the drag racing program was the popular Honda Day event held at Atco Raceway in April, which drew a crowd of over 15,000 dedicated Honda and Acura enthusiasts and racers. We had a great event running the Honda Civic with Lisa Kubo behind the wheel.

For those of you not familiar with Lisa, she was the first Pro FWD driver to break into the seven-second range (7.963 at Moroso Motorsports Park, April, 2004) and has been a pioneer and cornerstone of the Honda drag racing community for over 12 years!

Lisa, who had taken a two-year hiatus from drag racing, did very well at the event in the 10.5-index class, with a D Series-powered Civic that was making a little over 500 wheel hp for this event. She made it to the finals in class, but unfortunately, she and the other driver both "red lit" the tree, and as she had tripped the light first, Lisa ended up losing the round. Off-track, we as a team introduced the Honda Racing Line parts and support program to the racers, and displayed a new 2012 Honda Civic Si sedan and a CR-Z Coupe to the spectators.

It was a great weekend overall. The racers we spoke with were all quite excited to learn about HPD expanding its Honda Racing Line program to support Honda and Acura drag racers, and the crowd really took quite an interest in the Civic Si and the CR-Z. We are looking forward to going back to the next Honda Day event at Englishtown Raceway in August!

Our first event for the circuit team also went quite well. We had just finished our Acura TSX build in time to participate in Round 3 of Redline Track Event's MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Championships, held at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. For those of you not familiar with MotoIQ competition, it is based on a horsepower-to-weight-ratio formula, and except for some minimal restrictions in aero design and tire size, the rule set is fairly wide-open. This provides a great platform to showcase the Honda Racing Line parts and support program from HPD.

At Auto Club Speedway, team driver Brian Smith was able to qualify the Acura in P3, and on race day took the lead at the start and finished on the podium in third place after a hard-fought battle with Formula Drift star Dai Yoshihara. Not a bad start for the season and a new built car fresh out of the box, especially considering we were about 480 pounds heavier and 35 horsepower down to Dai and his teammate, Mike Kojima!

We are currently in the process of bringing our horsepower up to the class limit for the next MotoIQ event with the help a few new parts sourced through the Honda Racing Line. Look for us at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah at the end of August. We have plans to put the HPD-sponsored car on the podium again!

And if you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program, at www.hondaracingline.com. The Honda Racing Line is proud to offer original equipment replacement parts, performance parts and crate engines to Honda and Acura grassroots racers in the entry-level through professional ranks.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Little Racers - HPD Community Outreach



For the last three years, an associate from Honda Performance Development in Santa Clarita, CA has visited a local elementary school to do a community involvement project with the kindergarten class, and this year was no exception. In fact, this year provided some of the best racing yet by the Northpark Elementary kindergarten class.

The project, based on a higher-level engineering project designed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), uses common household items to build self-propelled cars that then compete for top honors in the class. While the original higher-level project incorporates testing several variables that may affect the performance of the car, the challenge of car construction was enough to keep these kids, their teacher, and Mr. Aaron (as the class affectionately called him) sufficiently engaged.

“At this early age, the children are still developing their motor skills at the same time they are learning how to read, write, do arithmetic, and [most importantly] follow instructions,“ says their teacher, Miss Bennett. “The last two years of doing this project have taught us a lot about how to put forth the information in a way that they can easily comprehend and follow.”

The cars themselves, constructed of a milk-carton chassis, with wheels made from push-pops, axles made from straws, a balloon power plant, all held together with several pieces of tape and glue, have also benefited from a couple years of evolution. “The previous versions of the cars used a chassis made from thick construction paper or paperboard that the children had to cut out, accurately fold, and tape together,” said Mr. Aaron. “While the kids were capable of all this, we found that there were inherent weaknesses. The chassis had to be enlarged to help the children handle the cars easier. This led to a weaker chassis overall. That, combined with what we have dubbed the “Slobber Factor,” resulted in several wetness-related chassis failures during, and even before, the final races.

“This year, we used eight-ounce milk cartons instead of the paper chassis. Since they are fully boxed they have much more structural rigidity, and the wax coating is an effective countermeasure to the wet demise of the earlier chassis.”

The project wasn’t just about building balloon-powered cars, though. Said Mr. Aaron, “We had a lot of classroom time to talk about racing and cars in general. We looked at videos, talked about the different types of racing, different types of tracks, and safety equipment that is necessary to keep the drivers and crews from serious injury. It was very evident which kids had family members that enjoyed racing, as they would chime in at every race-related question.”

Basic car construction and its relationship to what they were building was also discussed. When the time came to actually build the cars, the kids knew all the major components and could follow the instructions easily. Not all questions were easily answered, though. “I think the moment this year that I will always remember was when we were talking about how the engine sits in the chassis and one young boy asked why race cars had the engine in the rear [after looking at an HPD ALMS car] and street cars had the engine in the front,” Mr. Aaron recalled. “I was totally blown away. We had not discussed the concept of engine placement at all; it was just something he noticed. I didn’t know how to answer him. It was a very valid question with a complex answer about vehicle dynamics and balance that I struggled to find a simple way of explaining. I ended up using weight and friction to explain the concept.”

Mr. Aaron said he couldn’t claim all the credit, though. “I borrowed Mr. Miyagi’s hand-rubbing technique to teach them about friction and how more weight / force makes more friction and heat. I’m pretty sure they have never seen the original Karate Kid, so they’ll never know of my plagiarism.”

With all this combined, the racing this year was better than any before. The children were given balloons weeks in advance so that they could practice blowing them up, which is a challenge for those of such small lung capacity. When race day came, the kids were all charged up and ready to go. Races took place in bracket form, with the top four finishers competing against Mr. Aaron for the overall class win. With the balloons all inflated, and the cars perched on the starting line, the green flag was dropped and the cars took off. “The race across the short drag strip was so close that we had to actually review the video that the class assistant was taking in order to determine the winner,” claimed Mr. Aaron. “We have never had that many cars perform so well.”

At the end of the day, the champion – who won three races to get to the top – was Aidan LeVan, followed by Davis Perkins in second place. Mr. Aaron’s car came in third, but as his was only an honorary entry, the actual award was given to Abigail Montoya who finished just behind Mr. Aaron. “Despite the affection of the class, I felt oddly alone on the starting line, as all the students that were not in the finals were cheering for the students to beat me,” Mr. Aaron recalled.

The top three finishers received Honda Racing t-shirts and models of HPD’s sports cars for their achievements, along with HPD notebooks, knapsacks, INDYCAR posters, and Honda Racing stickers that were distributed to all the students courtesy of Honda Performance Development. It was a winning day for all, though, with all the kids cheering each other on and jumping around in jubilation at their achievements. In a contradiction of HPD’s extraordinary reliability, one car experienced an “engine failure” during the race when an overinflated balloon burst right at the start of the semi-finals. “The young boy was incredibly upset that his balloon popped, and thought it was unfair that he didn’t get to finish the race,” noted Mr. Aaron. “I guess in racing, some things never change.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Latest from the IndyCar Paddock... Canadian Style

-Dan Layton





Northern Exposure


Hit somebody! It rang in his ears
Blood on the ice ran down through the years
The king of goons with a box for a throne
A thousand stitches and broken bones
He never lost a fight on his icy patrol
But deep inside, Buddy only dreamed of a goal
He just wanted one damn goal

There were Swedes at the blue line, Finns at the red
A Russian with a stick heading straight for his head
Brains over Brawn — that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?

Hit Somebody!
-Warren Zevon: Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)



The late, great Warren Zevon would’ve loved the two recent Canadian IZOD IndyCar Series races in Toronto and Edmonton. There was enough slamming and banging in those two races to fill a full-season DVD.

Historically, Toronto has always been a scene of frequent contact and short tempers – going all the way back to the first race in 1986, when even race winner Bobby Rahal was fuming at the finish (after a mid-race “stop-and-wait” penalty) and 10 of the 25 cars in the starting field were eliminated by crashes – including the likes of local hero Jacques Villeneuve (Gilles’ younger brother), Mike Andretti and Tom Sneva.

The course layout seems to encourage passing attempts, but the bumps and asphalt-to-concrete pavement changes frequently makes zeros out of [potential] heroes...

Even so, this year was something else. By my unofficial count, at least 24 of the 26-car starting field had contact with other cars and/or the wall at least once at Toronto, while more than a half-dozen had two incidents of contact, and THREE (Alex Tagliani, Graham Rahal and Danica Patrick) were hitters/hittees no fewer than three times each.

As near as I could tell, only Sebastien Bourdais and Simona de Silvestro were able to complete the race in unmarked cars.

In purist terms, it wasn’t a great race. Heck, the [beautiful, new] Honda Civic Si pace car led 32 of the 80 laps! But it sure was entertaining, and it definitely ratcheted up the intensity factor as the IZOD IndyCar Series entered the second half of 2011.

And the first half of the subsequent event at Edmonton looked to be more of the same. The VERSUS television crew certainly got into the act right from the show’s cold open, which featured a highlight video recap of all the Toronto crashing set to the music of Ce Lo Green’s “[Forget] You”. Classic. I laughed my head off in pit lane just listening to it on my scanner.

And for the first 25 laps at Edmonton, it things appeared to be much the same. First, Alex Tagliani got sucked into a w-a-a-ay over-ambitious move at the end of the second straight, spearing into Rahal’s rear tire which, two turns later, sent Rahal into a spin and Paul Tracy over the top of him, ending both of their races.

Wait a minute … Paul Tracy a victim of someone else’s brain lapse? Yep.

More mayhem ensued (Mike Conway into Oriol Servia, E.J. Viso into Scott Dixon, and Ryan Hunter-Reay into pole qualifier Takuma Sato), but then things calmed down and a more “normal” IndyCar Series race broke out over the final 30 laps or so, with Will Power leading home teammate Helio Castroneves and Toronto winner Dario Franchitti.

So now, the point race has tightened up a bit and we head into Honda’s midwestern “Home” race at Mid-Ohio. It looks to be a hot and humid weekend at Mid-O, and the temperature in the paddock is expected to be equally high, despite some of the “happy smiling faces” put on for public display.

It should be fun.

Postscript: Just as I was getting ready to hit “send”, the word came down from INDYCAR that Conway, Hunter-Reay and Tagliani had all put on probation by “the iron hand of justice” – aka Race Director Brian Barnhart. These three all had at least one instance of contact at both Toronto and Edmonton, and as a result, have received the IICS equivalent of “five-minute majors”… Now the question is: Will this dampen some of the “enthusiasm” of the Canadian races or only put more fuel on the fire?
###

Monday, August 1, 2011

I RACE AN ACURA: KEVIN RUCK


My name’s Kevin Ruck and I’m currently in my 12th season of SCCA Club Racing. And in all of that time, I’ve never raced anything other than a Honda or an Acura.

I began in Improved Touring C (ITC) with a Honda Civic, followed by several years of racing an Improved Touring A (ITA) Acura Integra, and eventually moving up to an F Production Integra and setting my sights on winning a Runoffs National Championship. I can proudly say that I’ve accomplished that goal, having become the 2010 SCCA F Production Runoffs National Champion.

I suppose that makes the journey sound a little easier than it really was. Going back a bit, I guess it started when my Dad brought home his first Honda Civic in 1978. Ever since then, our family brought home Honda after Honda as our cars of choice. Even though my Dad’s passion lay in old British roadsters, he obviously valued products that were reliable, innovative, well-engineered and safe for his family.

As I grew up, Dad and I would restore an occasional vintage car or motorcycle, but as a teenager in the ’90s, it was Integras and Civics and the budding “sport compact craze” that bit me hard. I learned quickly that you could swap parts around from car to car to create a unique ride. The cars were easy to work on and grasp, and only your imagination limited what you could build.

I quickly found myself looking for a safe and legal environment to see what my Hondas could do. I initially found autocross and track days, but those just fueled my next desire to race on-track, wheel-to-wheel against others. My move to club racing came soon thereafter in 2000, with the purchase of my first Improved Touring C Civic.

SCCA Improved Touring race cars are lightly modified road cars. Intakes and exhausts can be changed; springs, swaybars and shocks can be replaced; and interiors can be removed for the installation of required safety equipment. It’s a Regional Club Racing class, making it ineligible for the Runoffs National Championships, but each fall, the American Road Race of Champions (ARRC) is held at Road Atlanta, where the IT community crowns its own national champions. I competed in my first ARRC in 2004 with my ITA Integra, finishing a respectable seventh. A string of podium finishes began the following year, before my Integra and I were finally able to stand atop the box in 2008 as the ARRC ITA Champion.

The year 2009 brought a desire to attempt a new challenge, as I moved up to National Club Racing in F Production. Production cars are typically much more heavily modified than IT cars, having extensively stripped chassis, heavily modified engines, and completely re-engineered suspensions.

However, in recent years the SCCA has introduced some newer, later-model cars to the Production classes that meet the desired performance parameters of the classes, but at a more limited level of modification, preparation and cost. The Acura Integra falls into this category, and it created a simple, natural transition for me into a higher level of modification and speed, without a huge change in rule-set, philosophy, or cost from what I was used to.

That first season of National Racing brought a new learning curve, but overall, it went well. I finished fifth at the Runoffs National Championship, and was presented the Jim Fitzgerald Award as the National Racing Rookie of the Year. To top it off, I took my old ITA Integra back to the ARRC and successfully defended my ITA Championship.

In 2010, it all came together in a dream season. I won the F Production Runoffs National Championship in just my second try; won the nationwide points championship; and won my third consecutive ARRC Championship in an ITB Civic.

Defending these championships in 2011 may be my hardest challenge to date. My Integra is running well, though, and I’m currently first in nationwide points and looking forward to another F Production race at the Runoffs National Championship.

There are a couple of things that make all this possible. The first is the dependability and reliability of these Hondas. At one point this year, I ran five National races in 21 days, and you’d have a hard time trying to do that in a lot of other cars. Having to perform minimal maintenance on my car allows this, so I can be maximizing my time on track doing development. On occasion, I’ve also tried improving my car with aftermarket or custom parts, only to revert to the factory Honda pieces, as the sacrifice in reliability didn’t prove worthwhile for, at best, very marginal improvements.

The support of Honda Performance Development and its Honda Racing Line program has been another large part of my success. Being an amateur racer, I am immensely thankful for HPD’s generous contingency, and the available parts associates have proven invaluable. Finding OEM replacement parts for older Hondas can occasionally be tricky, but the guys at HPD do whatever they can to find them for you, wherever they may be in the world. Without help like that, what do you do?

The well-thought-out engineering and solid reliability of Honda and Acura automobiles, with the help of Honda Performance Development and its Honda Racing Line program, keeps me out on the racetrack. With that combination, I am confident that wins and championships will continue well into the future.

Look for Kevin Ruck at the 2011 SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America on Sept.19-25.

And if you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda Power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program at www.hondaracingline.com.

Honda Racing Line is proud to offer original equipment replacement parts, performance parts and crate engines to Honda and Acura grassroots racers in the entry-level through professional ranks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I RACE A HONDA: STEPHAN PAPADAKIS

My name’s Stephan Papadakis, and I race a Honda Ridgeline.

I race the Ridgeline – actually, it’s a tube-frame chassis with a Honda K24 engine and a fiberglass Ridgeline body – in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Pro Lite Unlimited class. It’s short-course, off-road racing, which is kind of like Supercross dirt bike racing, only with four wheels.

It has tight turns and huge jumps – doubles, tabletops, even whoops and moguls. Unlike desert off-road racing, in which vehicles leave the starting line in 30-second or one-minute intervals, this is much more like road racing, with 15 to 20 trucks in wheel-to-wheel action.

I got into short course, off-road last year after competing and doing well in drag racing, drifting and road racing. Short course has some interesting engineering challenges. You need to build a powerful engine and drive train and gearing that will hold up to the pounding. You’ve got to have reliability, because the engines are pretty highly strung to make the necessary power. They also take a huge beating every time you land from a jump – sometimes we’re flying 100 feet. And the cooling system is packed away to protect it from dirt and rocks, so the engines don’t get a lot of cooling. There are a lot of difficult factors to overcome in order to have a good package.

From a driving perspective, it’s like road racing, because you’ve got multiple left and right turns – although they change every lap. Then, you’ve got obstacles in the form of jumps, and competitors that have no problem with sticking their bumpers into your doors. It’s wheel-to-wheel and very competitive. You’re drifting through the turns and sliding around, while still trying to stay quick.

I do all of this in a truck that has a 106-inch wheelbase, weighs 2,800 pounds and has 12 inches of suspension travel at the front and 14 inches at the rear. The rules are pretty restrictive, and all the trucks must fit in the same box. It’s practically spec with respect to the chassis, which is purpose-built from the ground up, from round and square tubing.

The engine sits just about where the passenger would sit. Because we’re flying these trucks over big jumps, they need to be well-balanced, so they don’t land hard on the front or rear. The engine is based on a 2.4-liter K24 such as you would find in an Accord or Element – including a carburetor per the rules – and it drives the rear wheels.

Mine is the only Honda in the field. Although some of the buggies – which are kind of like off-road Formula cars – run Honda power, I’m driving the only Honda-powered truck. The reason is that our race team has always been about doing more innovative stuff. The motor that has been the competitive engine package is quite old, quite developed, and it’s not how we like to go racing. So, we looked around and decided the K24 engine has parts availability, it’s a current platform and it has tons of potential.

At the same time, it’s something to talk about. It’s a Honda Ridgeline out on the track. We wanted to do something different and we want to go out there and compete with a different combination.

I also have a long history with Honda. I started professional import drag racing in my early twenties in a Civic. In my drag career I won three championships, set numerous ET records and held the titles of World’s Quickest Honda, World’s Fastest front-wheel drive – among others – and set numerous firsts, such as first Honda to break 200 mph.

In 2005, I went drifting with a Honda S2000 and was named Formula D Rookie of the Year. I’ve also road-raced Hondas in the National Autosport Association’s Honda Challenge.

The Honda Ridgeline Pro Lite truck in short course, off-road is just the next step in my motorsports career driving Hondas. I look forward to hopefully claiming Honda’s first championship in the sport.


Look for Stephan Papadakis and the Honda Ridgeline when the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series goes to Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino Calif., in August; Las Vegas Motor Speedway in November, or visits the Phoenix area in September and December. You can also catch the series on CBS, SPEED Channel or Versus.

And if you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program at www.hondaracingline.com.

Honda Racing Line is proud to offer original equipment replacement parts, performance parts and crate engines to Honda and Acura grassroots racers in the entry-level through professional ranks.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Spec: RaceAtom Presented By Honda Racing/HPD Heats Up With Close On-Track Action


Rounds 3 and 4 of the Spec: RaceAtom Presented by Honda Racing/HPD series took place on July 16-17 on the very challenging, and fast, full course at Virginia International Raceway.

Fifteen drivers were on hand for the Saturday event which provided three practice sessions before getting down to business in the qualifying session. A quick lap time in a Spec Race Atom racecar comes down to driver skill and the ability to find clear track, as all the cars are identical.

At the end of qualifying, the top three grid positions were set with Aaron Elsner, Jim Lewis, and Jim Taggart, respectively. The close qualifying times throughout the entire field showed that it was going to be a great race.

The race would prove to be action-packed from the drop of the green flag. All the cars made it cleanly through Turn One and jockeyed for position heading into the climbing esses. Car #45 of Jim Lewis had a brief off-track excursion at the famous Oak Tree turn dropping him back to 10th from second. Lewis worked consistently throughout the 20-minute race to charge back to a solid fourth-place finish.

At the checkered flag, it was Elsner, Taggart, and Tyson Bytzek taking the podium positions, with Lewis and Christian Shield rounding out the top five.

Sunday brought another complete schedule of racing, with three practices, qualifying, and a race session. Many competitors were working hard throughout the practice sessions to find additional speed. Only minor changes such as to tire pressure and alignment settings, are legal within the series rules.

Sunday’s race action was not limited to the front end of the grid. There were intense battles happening in all grid positions, with one of the closest being for 11th position between series newcomer Kent Lewis and Mark Hyman. After 10 laps of nose-to-tail racing, it was Kent Lewis who took the 11th position.

Aaron Elsner crossed the line for his fourth victory of the season; however, he was chased very closely by Tyson Bytzek in second position. Jim Lewis drove a smart race to make his first appearance on the Spec: RaceAtom podium, in third position.

The Spec: RaceAtom series continues to provide great racing excitement for the drivers, while at the same time providing a race car with exceptional reliability and speed. Throughout the weekend, there were no mechanical DNFs.

*Fastest Spec: RaceAtom Lap of the weekend: Aaron Elsner #51, 2:06.519, full course
Races 5 and 6 will take place August 20-21 on the North Course at Virginia International Raceway.

For more information on the series please contact:
Mark Swain - TMI AutoTech, Inc.
mswain@arielatom.com
434.822.9130 x303

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I RACE A HONDA: JEREMY CROISET


My name is Jeremy Croiset, and I compete in the National Auto Sport Association (N.A.S.A.) Honda Challenge H2 class in a Honda CR-X. I’m also the organization’s sponsorship manager. N.A.S.A. is an amateur road-racing sanctioning body, with 13 regions across the country. Its bread and butter is having the ability to take anyone with any sort of safe-operating street car, put him or her on the racetrack and train him or her to become a wheel-to-wheel racer.

Anybody who has interest in driving a Honda fast and safely can hop on a racetrack with an instructor, learn what he or she needs to do and get up to speed while developing the skills required to become an excellent racer. That’s N.A.S.A.’s philosophy: to provide a safe and fun environment for people to partake in high-performance, on-track driving.

The HPD Honda Challenge series is one of several series in N.A.S.A. The rules are based around Honda factory parts and making the most of the parts that Honda has provided as an O.E. manufacturer. The Honda Challenge is divided into five classes, H1 through H5, with H1 being the fastest and H5 being the slowest. The modifications that can be made to the cars are more extensive in H1 and less extensive in H2, and then fairly restrictive in H3, H4 and H5. H2 and H4 are the most popular classes nationally, followed by H1. That’s likely due to the cost involved in building a competitive car for the H1 class.

In H3, H4 and H5, the rules are based on the particular chassis you choose to race with. In H2 and H1, the chassis is no longer the defining point; the motor is. You can essentially combine any sort of chassis and engine you want – that’s permitted under the rules – and there are many combinations you can choose from. You then set the weight of the vehicle, based on the engine of your choice.

My Honda CR-X started out as a street car when I first got it and I slowly converted it to a track car. Then, it became an H4 racecar and eventually I moved it to H2 by swapping in a B16 engine with an Integra Type R transmission. I’ve had good success with my CR-X in both the H4 and H2 classes. I got involved with Hondas because I loved the body style of the CR-X and the reliability that the cars provided, and it hasn’t let me down.

I won the 2007 H4 Southern California Regional Championship, which was pretty hotly contested, and was runner-up in 2006, missing the title by just five points.

One of the things that I’m really proud of, even though we didn’t get the finish that we wanted, was last year’s effort for the N.A.S.A. National Championships at Miller Motorsports Park. We started basically from scratch about a month before the event and tore my CR-X down to nothing, basically to a bare shell. We painted everything and rebuilt it from the ground up in about two-and-a-half weeks.

We finished it at the track, and put the car on the outside pole for the main race, having finished first in one qualifying race. I’d have had a fighting chance to win if I hadn’t had contact with another car. It was just myself, my brother and my friend, Robert, who did all the work in such a short period of time, and we were able to put in a pretty stellar performance in a car without any testing. It was a bittersweet weekend that will not be forgotten.

This year is looking pretty good thus far. We are dominating the SoCal regional Honda Challenge races this season and I’m already looking ahead to the National Championships, held this year at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It’s a fun track, challenging and technical. I don’t think I will necessarily have the engine combo to beat there, but I think I have one of the better chassis for that track.

It would be tough to do all this without HPD – which sponsors the Honda Challenge Series – and the Honda Racing Line program. I was one of the first people to sign up for that program when it first came online. In my business, I understand that what I do and who I purchase parts through has an effect on the overall outcome of the program. I use HPD whenever I need anything for the car.

I’m looking forward to getting to Mid-Ohio, this time with a fully-sorted car, and getting the finish we missed out on last year.

Look for Jeremy Croiset at the 2011 N.A.S.A. National Championships at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Sept. 8-11.

And if you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program at www.hondaracingline.com.

Honda Racing Line is proud to offer original equipment replacement parts, performance parts and crate engines to Honda and Acura grassroots racers in the entry-level through professional ranks.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pagenaud’s “HPD Tour” Makes a Stop in Grand-Am Land

Monterey, CA (July 14, 2011) – What does an American Le Mans Series champion and open-wheel driver do on an “off” weekend? Why, he finds a way to go racing with HPD, of course!

Simon Pagenaud – former Champ Car regular, reigning ALMS champion, sometime IndyCar driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans contender in 2011 – had a break in his busy calendar last weekend, and he took that opportunity to race an HPD-developed Honda Civic Si at the Laguna Seca round of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

Previously, Pagenaud had sampled both the Honda B-Spec Fit and hybrid Honda CR-Z at last December’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill NASA endurance race. Now, it was time to try out the Civic, run by twice-champion Compass360 Racing and teamed with series regular Ryan Eversley.

It wasn’t a “storybook” weekend for the pair – a red flag in qualifying meant they started near the rear of the grid, 26th, in their #75 Skunk2/Honda Performance Development/Racing4Research Honda; and a hard charge through the field netted a sixth-place finish – but Pagenaud thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“The Civic was a lot of fun to drive,” Pagenaud said. “I was pleased to hand the car over to Ryan in good shape and watch him finish well, which was crucial for his championship chances.”

The result keeps both Eversley and Compass360 second in the driver and team championship standings, with two races remaining. Pagenaud enjoyed his weekend with the team.

"I have to give a big thanks to [team owner] Karl [Thomson] and his team. They made me feel incredibly welcome and I spent a great weekend of racing with them,” Pagenaud recounted. “The racing is brilliant. It is bumper-to-bumper out there with 54 cars, so you are constantly fighting with other drivers.”

Pagenaud has sampled Honda-powered racing cars at both ends of the competitive spectrum, from the entry-level Fit to pinnacle Indy cars and sports prototypes. He finds similarities throughout.

"Through the range of Honda-powered cars I have driven in recent years the Indy car and the HPD ARX-01e sports car are very similar in speed and driving style.

“The Honda Civic can be found at your [local] dealers, and with good preparation and HPD components on it, it then becomes a great race car, with a good amount of power and fantastic handling. We had some great battles this weekend with others brands like Mini, BMW, Mazda, Kia and Volkswagen.

"If you want to go road racing, Honda and HPD have a great range of options. I've driven the Honda Fit, the CR-Z hybrid and now the Civic: Those three cars are really great stepping stones for road racers.

"For the beginners, the best product out there remains the Honda Fit B Spec. For someone with just a bit more experience, I positively recommend the Honda Civic Si, where you can also race in some professional series like the Continental Tire Series and [SCCA] World Challenge.”

Pagenaud will continue to sample and race a variety of HPD performance products through the remainder of the year, including a Rallycross version of the B-Spec Fit, as well as a Honda-powered Formula F and kart.

“I am very excited to go dirt racing in the Rallycross for the first time,” he enthused. “It certainly is going to be a lot of fun, and is a discipline that is really rising. Personally, I have done a few rallys in France in the past, but this will be my first Rallycross event, and I am really looking forward to that."

The goal of Pagenaud’s participation in these events is to help HPD engineers develop better products for members of the Honda Racing Line.

"I really enjoy participating with the HPD engineers in the development of all these cars. Hopefully, my feedback can help both current and new Honda drivers. Honda and HPD really have a great range of options for competitors. I think you'll see young drivers come through the Honda system in karts and F1600 Formula F to rise into IndyCars and professional sports-car racing."

Pagenaud’s team at Laguna Seca, Canadian-based Compass360, fields four front-running Honda Civic Si's in Grand-Am's Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, having won series Championships in 2010, 2009 and 2007. It also runs four more Honda Civic Si’s in SCCA World Challenge.

The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race from Laguna Seca will be televised, tape-delayed on SPEED July 17th at 1 p.m.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

THR and HPD tackle the 89th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb!


The Pikes Peak International Hillclimb (PPIHC), also known as ”The Race to the Clouds,” is an annual automobile and motorcycle ascent of Pikes Peak in Colorado. This historic race is run on a 12.42-mile course containing 156 turns that begins at 9,390 feet and finishes at the 14,110-foot summit of America’s Mountain, Pikes Peak! As the drivers climb toward the summit, the thin air slows reflexes and saps muscle strength. The air also robs engines of 30 percent of their power at the summit. Competitors and vehicles must be in top shape to simply finish...let alone win!

Team Honda Research (THR) partnered with Honda Performance Development (HPD) to showcase a new B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally/Rally-X at the famous Hillclimb. "With the level of interest for Rally-X and with low-cost racing on the rise, we felt this event would be a fantastic way to launch the Rally B-Spec Fit with the public," stated James Robinson, driver of the Rally B-Spec Fit. "Given the unique and varying surfaces of the PPIHC event, we were able to show the stability and reliability of the B-Spec platform." After three days of practice and qualifying, the only service required on the newly built HPD Fit was the addition of four gallons of gas and a tire rotation.

"We were very excited to get the opportunity to be a competitor at the 89th running of the race, not only due to the fact that we would be able to show the new Rally B-Spec Fit, but also because this was the last running of PPIHC before the entire course would be paved," James said. After the practice sessions, the THR/HPD team felt ready to test the HPD Fit against the mountain. Due to the class in which the HPD Fit competed, the rookie team was given the honor to be the first competitors up the mountain. "This gave us a clear track on the way up, as well as a fantastic opportunity to watch the unique drama unfold at the summit, as the Unlimited Class fought to break the world-record time up the mountain set by Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima in 2007." James continued, "Watching Tajima-san make history from the summit was amazing, and we were thankful that the HPD Fit got us to the top so that we could watch it!"

Considering the B-Spec’s focus on low-cost race preparation, the HPD Fit was able to set a commendable time of 15 minutes, 46.609 seconds; only seconds slower than cars with significantly more power. "I think that there is a very good opportunity here to expand PPIHC’s current class list to include a B-Spec category, which would allow more competitors to experience the thrill of racing up this historic mountain," James said. "We received fantastic crowd support for the car, and had a wonderful time driving the Fit to the top. We look forward to another chance next year, and hope we can pull more B-Spec cars to race with us in 2012!"

The THR team would like to thank HPD for its excellent support during this event, along with BFGoodrich, John Holt Racecars, Honda R&D Fabrication department, Jared Vanderhoof, Kentaro Akao, and Shana Robinson.

Look for the Rally B-Spec Fit at the upcoming Rally-X events at Bark River, MI (August 13-14) and Chicagoland Speedway, IL (September 15).

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