As it takes a long time to recount three quarters
of a Century, Y’all…
Otay, so much for my scribblin’ another short
story on No Fenders, Hya!
As today’s “Third and Long!” Conclusion of my
elongated Honda Racing story starts with a trivia question for Y’all. As in
what do IndyCar and British Touring Cars Championship (BTCC)have in common
other than Honda winning multiple Championships in both series?
Yep, they’ve both terminated their partnerships
with Motor Sports Games!
Having extensively covered Honda’s multiple foray’s
into thee Pinnacle ‘O Motorsports, nee Formula 1. I’d be remiss to not
chronicle their Open Wheel Racing travails upon this side of Ye Puddle…
Following Honda’s withdrawal from F1 at the end
of 1992. Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) built a bespoke 2.65-litre turbocharged
V-8 engine to contest the 1994 Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) PPG
IndyCar world Championship.
Bobby Rahal, then competing as an Owner-Driver
with partner Carl Hogan had absorbed the assets of Truesports Racing at the end
of 1992. For which Bobby Rahal had driven for His benefactor Jim Trueman’s
racing team for years. Culminating in Bobby’s 1986 Indianapolis 500 win. With
Trueman, owner of Red roofs Inn and Mid-Ohio Sorts Car racecourse dying from
cancer eleven days after Rahal’s Indy 500 win
Rahal/Hogan attempted to carry on with
Truesport’s in-house 92C IndyCar chassis, being redesignated the R/H-001 for
1993. With Bobby Rahal being Bumped out of the ’93 Indianapolis 500 by Eddie
For the ’94 season, Rahal/Hogan Racing became
Honda’s launch partner. Mating the Honda HRX lump’ to the team’s customer Lola T9400
chassis. With two cars entred for Rahal and Mike Groff in Honda’s return to
Honda also supplied a third engine to Comptech
Racing’s single car entry for Parker Johnstone. As Comptech had been
campaigning Honda powered Sports Cars under the Acura banner.
With the Comptech IndyCar entry being a partial
season campaign focusing solely upon “Twisties” racetracks, i.e.; permanent
road courses and temporary street circuits. Seeing Comptech make it’s IndyCar
debut at Portland.
Unfortunately the new Honda engine was
underpowered upon super Speedways. Forcing Rahal/Hogan to opt for customer
Penske PC22 Chevrolet’s instead for that year’s Indianapolis 500. Since the team
feared failing to make the race two years in-a-row for sponsor Miller Brewing.
As Rahal finished 10th overall in the
standings, with a best finish of second at Toronto. While Groff finished 20th
overall with two Top-10 finishes. Coming in the first two rounds, with sixth
place at Phoenix His best result.
For 1995, Rahal/Hogan dropped their Honda
engine in favour of an Ilmor Mercedes lump’. With the newly formed Tasman Motorsports
single car entity running a Honda entry instead. As ironically Tasman was owned
by Steve Horne, former Truesports President, Crew Chief and Head Bottle Washer before
resigning in 1992.
Honda made it’s official return to the Indianapolis
500 the same year with Tasman entries for Scott Goodyear and rookie Andre Ribeiro,
who qualified third and 12th respectively.
As Indy 500 Aficionados will recall this was
the year that Goodyear was leading with ten laps remaining. Before illegally passing
the Pace Car! As my memories are quite Foggy now, but believe goodyear was
Black Flagged. Ultimately classified 14th, while Ribeiro finished 18th.
Comptech continued as the second Honda engine
partner, once again running a partial season campaign for Parker Johnstone who
would score Honda’s maiden IndyCar Pole position during Round 13 on Michigan
International Speedway’s 2.5-mile Super Speedway oval.
Two races later upon another Oval-track, at New
Hampshire Tasman’s Andre Ribeiro scored Honda’s maiden IndyCar win from Pole!
Then for ’96, Chip Ganassi sagely joined the
Honda brigade and the rest was History! With Target chip Ganassi Racing’s Top
Jimmy’ (Vasser) winning four races enroute to the Championship, while rookie
teammate El Zorro’, aka Alex Zanardi was Rookie Of the Year As Honda would
dominate the CART/IndyCar Championship between 1996-2001. Winning six
consecutive Drivers titles and four Manufacturer Championships.
As Target Chip Ganassi Racing would win the
Drivers title from 1996-99 with Vasser, Followed by Zanardi (1997-98) and that
Montoyer’ feller, nee Juan Pablo Montoya. (1999)
Gil de Ferran’s would win the next two Drivers titles
for El Capitano’, nee Roger Penske between 2000-01. Before Newman Haas Racing’s
Cristiano da Matta with rival Japanese manufacturer Toyota snapped Honda’s
Then Honda, along with Toyota and Chevrolet jumped
ship to the Dark Side, aka Indy Racing League (IRL) for the ’03 season.
As I suppose it’s only fitting or karmic that
it would be Bobby Rahal and David Letterman’s Rahal Letterman Racing team
scoring Honda’s first Indianapolis 500 victory in 2004 with Buddy “Hot rod”
Rice. While Andretti-Breen Racing’s Tony Kanaan won the IndyCar Championship
2005 saw a repeat of Honda’s dominance, this
time with Andretti Green Racing’s Dan Wheldon winning both the Indianapolis 500
and Championship, before Toyota and Chevrolet withdrew at season’s end. Leaving
Honda as the sole IndyCar engine supplier between 2006-2011.
Yet between 2012-2023, Honda’s been a pretty
good choice for engine supplier in IndyCar. Claiming seven Indianapolis 500
victories and six IndyCar Drivers Championships the past eleven years.
And I haven’t even dived into Honda, nee Acura’s
Sports car exploits! Having learned about Comptech Racing winning the Japanese
Auto manufacturer it’s debutante 24 Hours of Daytona win, Wayback’ in 1991!
As Comptech would win the Camel Lights
championship with Acura’s then brand new NSX V-6 motor bolted to it’s Spice
Prototype chassis three years straight, i.e.; 1991-93. Along with a second
Rolex 24 class victory in ’92, plus a class
victory at the ’93 12 Hours of Sebring.
Not to mention Acura having “three-peated” at
the Rolex 24 for overall victory the last three years. Beginning with Wayne Taylor
Racing in 2021. Followed by Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) back-to-back W’s in
Although MSR’s latest victory came underneath a
cloud of controversy, with the team being ultimately caught Cheating with it’s
tyre pressures during the race – and penalized afterwards, albeit keeping the
win and their Rolex wrist watches…