It’s great stepping into a championship-winning organization, but Ted Klaus knows the expectations that come with it.
Klaus (shown above) assumes the role of president at Honda Performance Development on April 1. He’ll replace Art St. Cyr, who after leading the U.S. racing arm of Honda for seven years, is becoming head of auto operations at HPD and focusing on passenger vehicle development.
For the first time since engine competition in the NTT IndyCar Series resumed in 2012, Honda took home the prized manufacturer’s championship last season. Honda-powered drivers won 11 of the 17 races, with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon winning the driver’s title.
An engineer for nearly 30 years, Klaus most recently led the Acura NSX passenger car project for Honda R&D North America. He has worked as a chassis engineer as well as on active torque transfer and electromechanical braking systems.
While this will be his first experience immersed in racing, Klaus said he can draw on past knowledge gained.
“The simple point is I love to bring different man‑machine elements together,” Klaus said. “I love to see how you go from a strategy to a concept to a target. Art talked about the target in the offseason. For every project I've worked on the last 28 years, we have clear lap times. Not quite as crystal clear as racing, but goals to be met. I'm really looking forward to that clarity in racing.”
Under St. Cyr’s leadership, Honda has won 45 NTT IndyCar Series races that include four Indianapolis 500s. Dixon claimed two season championships with Honda power (2013 and ’18) and Ryan Hunter-Reay one (2012).
St. Cyr is looking forward to his new endeavor with the company.
“The way I describe it is, I look at the car from when it's conceived all the way to the point it makes it to the dealership,” he said. “Product planning, public relations. I'll still have some involvement here in racing, the logistics side. Also, environmental vehicles, telematics, that type of stuff. There's a lot of diverse divisions that are under my purview.”
Despite the achievement of the manufacturer’s crown in 2018, St. Cyr was adamant that not winning the Indianapolis 500 remained a major disappointment.
“As successful as last year was, we knew there was some unfinished business,” said St. Cyr. “A lot of this offseason was spent working on our engine specification for the Indy 500 because we want to come with an even better package than we had last year. Our focus in the offseason was really on working on our Indy 500 specifications, while not doing anything that's going to affect our success last year on the road courses.”
Klaus looks to build upon what St. Cyr has assembled at HPD.
“Art has created a championship-form team within HPD and all our partners,” Klaus said. “Those members are stable. They're amazing members. I’ve had a chance to meet many of them.
“I fully intend to learn my role. I'll have some things to say that will be challenging like Art has been doing for the last seven years, but my role is to align this amazing talent and keep them focused and pointed towards meeting these targets.”
The NTT IndyCar Series returns to action this week with the INDYCAR Classic at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. Practice begins Friday on the 3.41-mile permanent road course. NTT P1 Award qualifying airs live at 3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold. Coverage of the 60-lap race starts at 1 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN.