IRL: Richmond: Honda preview

Honda Marks 100 Open-Wheel Victories at Richmond TORRANCE, Calif. (June 22, 2006) -- The debut was inauspicious: an 8th-place run in Surfers Paradise, Australia. The first win -- Andre Ribeiro at New Hampshire International Speedway's...

Honda Marks 100 Open-Wheel Victories at Richmond

TORRANCE, Calif. (June 22, 2006) -- The debut was inauspicious: an 8th-place run in Surfers Paradise, Australia. The first win -- Andre Ribeiro at New Hampshire International Speedway's one-mile oval -- didn't come until almost 18 months later. But Honda's North American open-wheel racing program was established that day, leading to nine seasons of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) competition; and another four in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, since 2003.

Since then, the victories have come fast and furious for Honda's North American open-wheel racing effort, and this weekend's Suntrust Challenge at Richmond International Raceway will mark Honda's 100th North American open-wheel race victory.

"Thinking back to 1995, when we won our first race after two years of testing, development and racing -- and knowing the effort and hardship that went into achieving that milestone -- it seems incredible that we're about to mark our 100th win," said Robert Clarke, President of Honda Performance Development (HPD). "In New Hampshire in 1995 at the time of that first win, 100 wins would have seemed like a pure fantasy to us."

Win Number 10 came less than a year later, as Ribeiro posted his third career CART win at Michigan International Speedway. The 25th victory was a thrilling come-from-behind effort from eventual two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi at Cleveland; while the 50th win, at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, also marked the arrival of future two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves.

One of Honda's most successful drivers, Dario Franchitti with 14 wins, scored Honda's 75th open-wheel race win at The Milwaukee Mile in 2004.

"I have personally been in attendance at every one of those 100 wins, and I remember each as if it were yesterday," remembers Clarke. "I remember the joy and excitement of Andre, Alex, Helio, Dario and their teammates after those milestone victories, and I remember sharing cake and ice cream [a Honda tradition] with our HPD associates the following Monday. We've truly been blessed with some outstanding talents throughout our open-wheel racing program.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of American Honda, HPD coordinates Honda's participation in the IndyCar Series, and is the technical operations center for Honda's high-performance engines. Headquartered north of Los Angeles in Santa Clarita, California, HPD has grown from a handful of associates working out of a 43,500-square-foot building to a growing staff of 125-plus managing multiple racing programs in a new, two-story, 123,000-square-foot facility.

"I'd like to congratulate all of our associates at HPD, who have worked hard, made personal sacrifices and have made the success of our racing programs their top priority. I'd also like to thank Honda R&D for the continued assistance and support throughout our CART and IRL programs and our technical partners at Ilmor for their contributions to our IRL program."

-honda-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Robert Clark