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Honda Performance Development

Honda Performance Development

Honda Performance Development (HPD), a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Honda, is the technical operations center for Honda’s high-performance racing engines, including the Honda HI13R Indy V-6 engine utilized in IndyCar Series competition.

Founded in 1993, HPD began Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) competition in 1994, winning its first race at New Hampshire International Speedway in 1995, and first manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships in 1996.  Three more manufacturers’ titles (in 1998, ’99 and 2001) followed, along with six consecutive drivers’ crowns (1996-2001) and a total of 65 race victories.

HPD entered the IndyCar Series in 2003, and again quickly established its dominance against strong competition from other major automotive manufacturers.  From 2003-05, Honda teams and drivers scored 28 victories in 49 races, including the 2004 and ’05 Indianapolis 500s.  Honda won the IndyCar Series Manufacturers’ Championships in 2004 and ’05, while Honda-powered drivers Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon won the drivers’ championships in 2004 and ’05, respectively.

For 2006, Honda became the single engine supplier to the IndyCar Series, and the company continued in that role through 2011.  Throughout Honda’s six seasons as single engine supplier, a total of 98 different drivers completed 1,188.376 miles of practice, qualifying and racing with only six race-day engine failures.  No race-day failures were reported for the entire 2008, 2010 and 2011 race seasons.

For six consecutive years, from 2006-11, Honda powered the entire 33-car starting field at the Indianapolis 500.  And for six years in a row – and the only six times in Indy 500 history – there was not a single engine-related retirement in the event.

Manufacturer competition returned to the IndyCar Series in 2012 with Chevrolet and Lotus joining Honda in fielding new, turbocharged V6 engines for IndyCar competition.  Honda-powered drivers and teams scored four victories throughout the season, highlighted by Dario Franchitti’s third triumph at the Indianapolis 500 in May.  In 2013, Honda-powered drivers and teams doubled-up, scoring nine victories, highlighted by Scott Dixon's three consecutive wins and the 2013 IndyCar Series overall championship for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. In 2014, Honda-powered drivers scored six victories, including Ryan Hunter-Reay's first win in the 98th Indianapolis 500 and Simon Pagenaud's win in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Today, HPD operates out of a multi-level, 123,000-square-foot Research & Development facility in Santa Clarita, California, in the northern Los Angeles suburbs. Here, the company and its more than 100 associates coordinate Honda’s participation in IndyCar Series racing and the many other racing programs conducted by American Honda, ranging from sports-prototype competition in the World Endurance Championship and American Le Mans Series all the way to entry-level categories such as karting and quarter-midget racing.

HPD’s headquarters includes engine design facilities; comprehensive engine R&D operations; prototype and production parts manufacturing; race-engine preparation and rebuilding areas; a material analysis laboratory; quality-control inspection areas; five engine dynamometer test cells; a machine shop; an electronics lab; a parts center; administrative offices and multiple meeting/conference rooms.

After joining the company as its first associate and General Manager in 1993, Robert Clarke served as president of Honda Performance Development from 2005-2007.  HPD previously was headed by Thomas Elliott (1993-2002), and Yasuhiro Wada (2003-2004).  In 2008, Erik Berkman, one of Honda R&D’s most experienced project leaders, served as HPD President before returning to R&D Americas as president in 2012.

In April 2012, Art St. Cyr succeeded Berkman in the dual role of HPD President and Vice President of Corporate Planning and Logistics for parent company American Honda Motor Co., Inc.  St. Cyr previously served as Chief Engineer at Honda R&D Americas in Ohio.