Honda’s Racing History

July 29th, 2014 by

Honda Racing Logo





Honda’s Racing Pedigree

Hondas are best known for bulletproof reliability and excellent practicality. But, there’s more to the story. Honda has been entering, and winning races since the 1950’s. The pedigree runs deep, and you may be surprised where you can find Honda engines.

The Roots of Honda Racing

Honda’s founder, Soichiro Honda, found himself in love with cars at a young age. By 17 he was working as a trusted mechanic on an incredible project; the “Curtiss” race car. This vehicle combined the engine from a biplane with an American made Mitchell chassis. In 1924 this vehicle won the first race it was entered in with Shin’ichi Sakakibara as the drive and Mr. Honda as accompanying engineer. This was truly the beginning of Motorsports for Honda.

Honda Begins in Earnest

Honda Racing Motorcycle

Honda’s Winning Bike at the 1961 Isle of Man TT

Many years pass with Mr. Honda working and studying before Honda Motor Company was officially founded on September 24 1948. By 1954, a Honda was entered in the famous Isle of Man TT motorcycle race in Brazil. Despite little preparation, the custom Honda performed excellently.  By 1958 a Honda motorcycle had claimed a 6th place finish at the Isle of Man TT race. By 1961 Honda had won the Isle of Man TT.

Bringing the Racing Spirit to Cars

1963 was an exciting year for Honda, they introduced their first production car, and entered Formula One racing for the first time. In just two short years Honda claimed their first Four-wheeled victory at the Mexican Grand Prix. Despite the success, Honda withdrew from Formula one in 1968.

a Honda F1 Race Car

Honda’s 1965 V12 F1 Car

Honda’s Return to Formula 1

After a long hiatus, Honda returned to Formula 1 racing in 1983; this time as an engine supplier. Honda produced powerful and reliable engines for prestigious teams such as Lotus and McLaren. These Honda engines pulled in a whopping 71 wins before Honda once again withdrew from the sport in 1992. In 2006 Honda returned to Formula One for the last time. The team ran for three series and captured some first place finishes; but in 2009 Honda decided that F1 was not a luxury to be afforded with the economic downturn and Honda once again withdrew.

Honda and IndyCar

Honda began it’s IndyCar run 1994 as a works supplier. By 2003, however, Honda engines powered six consecutive driver’s championships. By 2006 Honda was the sole supplier of engines for the IRL IndyCar series. This year, the Indianapolis 500 was run without a single engine problem for the first time in Indianapolis 500 history.

What it Means to You

2014 Honda Civic Si Sedan

Honda’s Racing Development has Influenced Many Road Cars

All this racing is more than just a marketing stunt or extra profit for Honda. The development that goes into racing slowly trickles down into consumer products where the technology delivers efficient power to your commute. Some of the racing spirit has trickled down to in the form of the Civic si, Fit Sport, and V6 Accord.

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