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DATE News (chronologically)
11/01/07
racing news
Honda announces leadership changes at HPD  

Robert Clarke

American Honda Motor Co., Inc. announced today that effective January 1, 2008, Robert Clarke, President of Honda Performance Development, Inc. (HPD), in Santa Clarita, California, will move to a new executive advisory role at HPD, a position he will hold until his retirement from Honda on June 30, 2008.  Named as the new president of HPD (effective 1/1/08) is Erik Berkman, currently Executive Engineer, Honda R&D Americas, Inc., Raymond, Ohio.

Erik Berkman

Erik Berkman, a 25-year veteran of Honda and one of R&D’s most experienced new model project leaders, brings to HPD a wealth of Honda knowledge and experience.   With a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University, Erik started his Honda career at the Honda of America Mfg., Inc., Marysville Auto Plant in 1982, managing a variety of quality-control and product-engineering departments.   Following Marysville, Erik moved to the Anna Engine Plant, Anna, Ohio, and continued his work in quality control and product engineering.

In 1991, Erik was transferred to Honda R&D Americas, Inc. to work on the Accord wagon, Honda R&D’s first U.S.-designed and developed vehicle.  In 1996, Erik became Chief Engineer, having led pre-development of the 1999 Odyssey, and served as the Large Project Leader (LPL) of the 1998 Accord coupe.   In 1999, Erik was promoted to Executive Engineer, serving as the LPL for a variety of U.S.-developed vehicles, including the Acura CL and Acura’s very successful and best selling TL.

Robert Clarke, a 27-year Honda associate, has been the guiding force at Honda Performance Development since its inception in 1993, when Robert established the new Honda racing subsidiary in Santa Clarita.  During Robert’s 15-year term at HPD, Honda’s on-track accomplishments have been legendary, starting with Honda’s record in CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) racing, where Honda won four Manufacturers’ Championships (’96, ’98,’99, ’01) and 65 races prior to moving into the Indy Racing League in 2003.  In its first three years of IndyCar competition against multiple manufacturers, Honda drivers and teams compiled an unmatched record of achievement, including two Indianapolis 500 wins, two Manufacturers’ Championships (2004, 2005) and 28 total race victories.  Honda became the single engine supplier to the IndyCar series in 2006, and made history in both the 2006 and 2007 Indy 500 races by supplying the entire 33-car fields without a single engine failure – the only two such instances in the 91-year history of the event.

Over the years, HPD’s operations have expanded from a small engine-rebuild and trackside-support operation, dependent upon Honda R&D Japan for technical support, to a self-sufficient motorsports R&D company of more than 125 associates.  Today, HPD’s activities include complete engine design and development, prototype- and production-engine manufacturing, chassis R&D, material analysis, race-team support and more.

Most recently, a new racing chapter evolved under Robert’s direction with Acura entering the fiercely competitive American Le Mans Racing Series (ALMS).  The Acura ALMS program features the Acura LM V8, HPD’s first-ever and Honda’s first racing engine produced outside of Honda R&D Japan. The three Acura-powered teams made a spectacular debut this year by taking the first, second and fourth positions in the LMP2 class at the 12 Hours of Sebring, one of the world's most prestigious road-racing events. 

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