Why We Race (Honda)
At Honda, racing is much more than a platform for marketing products, or a venue for research and development. To Honda, racing is the very soul of the company, a touchstone reaching back to our founder and the very foundations of the company.
Soichiro Honda formed the Honda Motor Company in 1948. One year later, World Championship Motorcycle Grand Prix racing was born, and soon the histories of both entities would become forever intertwined. While the dream of earning World Championship status captivated the thoughts of every motorcycle manufacturer around the world, this goal resonated in perfect harmony within Soichiro Honda.
In 1954, Mr. Honda made his intentions public by stating, "My childhood dream was to be a motorsport World Champion with a machine built by myself. I here avow my definite intention that I will participate in the TT races and I proclaim with my fellow employees that I will pour in all my energy and creative powers to win."
As the head of an upstart company, Soichiro Honda may have been just a single voice in a worldwide marketplace. However, a mere five years later, Honda entered the prestigious Isle of Man TT for the very first time. And within two years--a blink of an eye by racing development standards--Honda captured its first World GP race win on April 23, 1961. Exactly 39 years, 11 months and 15 days later, Honda would win its 500th GP victory, an achievement far surpassing that of every other motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
Impressive as this heritage of GP victory is, it barely scratches the surface of Honda's total racing achievement. In addition to GP racing, Honda has earned 96 National titles, encompassing Superbike and Supersport road racing, motocross, Supercross, Grand National Cross Country, and Hare Scrambles competition, and has amassed a record-setting 13 Baja 1000 victories. Name the racing discipline, and you'll find a collection of Honda championships.
Again, lofty as these marks stand, they constitute only one area of excellence. After expanding from motorcycle to automobile production, Honda once more set its sights on the highest goal--that of World Grand Prix auto racing--and soon achieved success within that stratospheric level of competition. In 1966, Honda-powered cars won the Formula 1 and Formula 2 GP Championships, and Honda notched more race wins and other notable achievements before leaving the sport of auto racing to focus on the production of consumer automobiles. Following a 10-year hiatus, Honda entered the F1 arena once again in the 1980s, and by 1992 Honda had amassed six Constructor's Championships, five Driver's Championships and 71 Grand Prix victories--an amazing achievement.
Having made its mark in F1, Honda next set its sights on the American racing scene, in CART IndyCar events. Following a brief start-up period, Honda earned its first race win in 1995, then went on to dominate the sport with five consecutive Driver's Championships in this premier venue by the close of the 2000 season.
Honda's unabated passion for motorsports continues to fuel the company's dreams in a new millennium. As one journalist said of Soichiro Honda, "He went racing because he loved it; it was in his blood. And what made Honda successful was that it was a company led by engineers. . . ."
This drive to conquer new engineering challenges, whether on the race track or in the production of consumer products, continues to forge the soul of Honda Motor Company. Racing inspires new heights of creativity at Honda, dismissing traditional solutions in the unceasing search for new designs. Within Honda, the status quo is never enough; to stand still is to run backward. Honda's overarching corporate commitment to develop breakthrough technology serves as the most compelling challenge of all.
Honda's longstanding and deep-seated passion for racing and excellence continues to power the dreams of today--dreams that will appear as the Honda products of tomorrow.