HPD Blog

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.

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