IRL: Honda to supply engines in 2003

Honda to join Indy Racing League as engine supplier in 2003. INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 23, 2002 -- American Honda Motor Co., Inc. announced today plans to enter the Indy Racing League (IRL) for the 2003 season competition, and its racing ...

Honda to join Indy Racing League as engine supplier in 2003.

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 23, 2002 -- American Honda Motor Co., Inc. announced today plans to enter the Indy Racing League (IRL) for the 2003 season competition, and its racing subsidiary, Honda Performance Development, Inc. (HPD) in Santa Clarita, Calif., has contracted with Ilmor Engineering Inc. (a sister company to Ilmor Engineering, Ltd.) to provide engines.

HPD and Ilmor will work together as technical partners to design, develop and produce the engine. HPD will provide trackside support to teams using the newly developed, Honda Indy V-8 engine.

Honda becomes the fourth engine manufacturer in the Indy Racing League for the 2003 season. It will be the first time that four manufacturers have produced engines for teams in the IRL, which debuted in 1996 and is America's premier open-wheel racing series.

"Everyone in the Indy Racing League welcomes Honda to the series next year," said Tony George, Indy Racing League president and CEO. "Honda has a strong tradition of success in worldwide open-wheel racing, and we think the Indy Racing League is the ideal platform from which Honda can build upon its winning heritage.

"Honda's decision to produce an IRL engine further validates the growth, stability and strength of the league, and the addition of another engine manufacturer positions the series for even more growth."

Honda R&D and HPD jointly developed engines for the CART racing series from 1994 to the present, with Honda R&D handling the majority of those responsibilities. HPD announced it was leaving the CART series in October 2001.

"This is an exciting all-new chapter in Honda's racing history and will give Honda the opportunity to compete in the challenging IRL racing series and the famous Indianapolis 500 race, while at the same time expand HPD's abilities as a true racing engine development company," said Robert Clarke, general manager of HPD. "Competing in the IRL series, with its rules to intentionally limit the use of high-cost technology and thus provide more parity in the racing field, will give Honda a new competitive experience and fans more exciting racing.

"This new direction builds on a foundation of nearly 10 years of CART racing and will serve to elevate HPD's capability from engine assembly to engine design and development, and reflects a new commitment to American racing.

"Our technical relationship with Ilmor, an international racing engine company with a long-term record in designing and developing competitive racing engines, will allow us to develop the all-new 3.5 liter, normally aspirated V-8 engine in time for the 2003 IRL racing season."

This change will mean that all U.S. auto racing engine R&D responsibilities will be turned over to HPD. This new shift in responsibilities will require HPD to further develop its in-house design, development and manufacturing expertise and capacity.

"We have always said that racing is an important training tool for our engineers, and these new responsibilities will certainly prove to be beneficial for them," Clarke said.

Honda Performance Development, Inc. was founded in 1993 and has won more than 60 races since it started competition in 1994, including winning four CART manufacturer's championships. The Honda Turbo V-8 has powered the past six consecutive CART driver's champions.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony George , Robert Clark