Team Honda Research West (THRW) was formed by verbal agreement in 1995 during a vehicle development project team dinner with Nobuhiko Kawamoto, CEO of Honda Motor Company Ltd., and future Honda Formula One leader Takefumi Hosaka. Matt Staal, one of the team founders and leaders, secured official Honda R&D support for the 1996 season, and it continues to the present day. The purpose of the team is to 1) increase Honda presence in U.S. motorsports, 2) enable product-development associates to gain motorsports experience and 3) promote teamwork within Honda. Since 1996, THRW has consistently raced in regional and national events sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America and the National Auto Sport Association - earning 53 total wins.
THRW’s first race car was a 1994 Acura Integra GSR that achieved a 4th-place finish in the 1999 SCCA National Championship Runoffs (SSB class) . Next, the team built a Civic Si, which won regional and national SCCA sprint events. In an effort to promote teamwork and strategy, in 2004, THRW expanded its focus to add endurance racing, entering an Acura Integra at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. In 2005, THRW collaborated with Honda R&D Ohio and American Honda Motor Co, Inc. to win the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The combined team drove a 2006 Civic Si to an E1 class win, and achieved 4th place overall. The team repeated a class podium at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in 2006, in a Civic Si coupe. A year later, the team resumed its Acura-based efforts by campaigning two RSX Type S models, which won the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) Western Endurance Racing Championship. In 2008, the team earned another class podium at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. In 2010, THRW built two Honda Fit B-Spec race cars. The Fit B-Spec racer won the debut of the World Challenge/SCCA Pro Racing B-Spec series at Miller Motorsports Park, and the inaugural season manufacturer championship. The Honda Fits have been displayed and promoted at industry and racing events, including the annual Performance Racing Industry meeting, IZOD Indycar Series races, and on the Honda Performance Development and SCCA websites. In addition to endurance racing, THRW members have a long history of success in SCCA sprint racing. THRW members have won SCCA National Runoffs Championships and class poles racing Honda Civic Si’s, S2000s and Acura RSXs.
Team members include:
Matt Staal (left), driver, team leader and head of driver development. Matt is a Senior Planner in the Honda R&D Americas, Inc. Advanced Product Planning Department.
John Whiteman (right), team/race strategy and sponsorship. John is the Manager of the Honda R&D Americas, Inc. Advanced Product Planning Department.
Calvin Liu (left), driver, Acura ILX racing project and technical team leader. Calvin is a Design Engineer in the Surface Development Department at Honda R&D Americas, Inc.
Roy Richards (right), driver, team treasurer. Roy is a coordinator in the Energy and Environmental Research Group at Honda R&D Americas, Inc.
Derek Ferretti (left), driver. Derek is a Senior Modeler in the Styling Division at Honda R&D Americas, Inc.
David Kirsch (right), crew chief. David is a Senior Engineer in the Information Technology Research Department of Honda R&D Americas, Inc.
Justin Chiodo (left), driver. Justin is a Senior Engineer in the Advanced Product Planning Department at Honda R&D Americas, Inc.
Lawrence Hwang (right), driver. Lawrence is a Senior Designer at Honda R&D Americas, Inc.
Lee Niffenegger (left), SCCA National Champion driver. Lee is a Senior Engineer in Business Development for Honda Performance Development.
Sage Marie (right), driver. Sage is the Senior Manager of Public Relations for American Honda Motor Co, Inc.
Team sponsors include Honda R&D Americas, Inc., Honda Performance Development, Acura Motorsports, BF Goodrich, AEM, H&R, Baja Designs lighting, Enkei, Red Line Oil, APR, Bride, Schroth racing harnesses, NRG Innovations, OMP, TireRack.com, Pegasus Auto Racing Supplies, DGauge, Monster Energy Drinks, Design Engineering.