Honda to ALMS, maybe Champ Car

UPDATE #3 Hearing in the Champ Car paddock that Kalkhoven's discussions with Honda are probably with the Champ Cars, not for the Atlantics. With high mileage engines (1,200 miles between rebuilds for the Cosworth now) and common Pi Electronics, Honda and Cosworth can compete head-to-head at a pretty reasonable cost it is thought, especially if they push the mileage up between rebuilds to, say 1500 or 1800 miles. We will keep our ear to the ground. 07/13/05 This may be why Honda is rumored to enter ALMS – to compete head-to-head against the Corvette, Aston Martin and Mercedes MC12 – Honda has finally confirmed it will replace its current long-running NSX ‘supercar’ – first launched in 1991. The automaker said in a statement on Tuesday that it is developing a new car to succeed the current model and that production of the present generation NSX will cease at the end of the year due to the extensive re-tooling necessary to meet stringent 2006 emissions and equipment regulations for the US, Europe and Asia.

The NSX is sold as an Acura in the US and as a Honda in all other markets. Sales of the hand-built model produced in a dedicated factory in Japan have reduced to a trickle in recent years, though the car has received regular updates. "We are committed to having an ultra high-performance vehicle in the Acura lineup in the future," said John Mendel, senior vice president, automobile operations, for Honda Motor’s California-based US unit. "It's too early to comment on specifics, but the all-new model will be just as groundbreaking as the 1991 NSX." Just-Auto

07/12/05 "I really can't talk for what Honda is going to do," Kevin Kalkhoven commented. "We have a continuing dialogue with them, as we do with other manufacturers. They have proven to be very friendly and cooperative and we'll wait to see what happens. (Competition) wouldn't be done in the way it was in the past, which is uncontrolled development by the manufacturers. I think that it's great when manufacturers are in, but the rules have to be set such that it is fair competition."

06/30/05 Brian Barnhart, the chief operating officer of the Indy Racing League, stated Wednesday that he wasn't sure if his series was any better off with Toyota and Honda since it hasn't improved attendance and television ratings. Hmmm, that sure sounds like a rather unappreciative man without an engine program for the future.

Because that's not how Barnhart and his IRL brethren sounded a four years ago when those two major manufacturers dumped CART for Tony George's series. The "League" was downright giddy and used phrases like "a great day for the IRL" and "the IRL has turned the corner."

Of course that lovefest is over. has learned that Honda Performance Development will enter the American LeMans Series next year in order to compete head-to-head with Porsche and Penske in the LMP2 category.

It's believed Bobby Rahal will be the lead team and it's also likely than Andretti/Green could be involved as well as another prominent car owner.

"That's news to me because no one from Honda has said anything to me about it," said Rahal on Wednesday night. "Now I've made no secret of my desire to be involved in sports car racing and I've talked to Audi, Aston Martin and Ferrari in the past few years but haven't been able to put anything together.

"All I know is that I've got a contract with Honda in the IRL."

This scenario becomes extra interesting because Champ Car and ALMS are working on a deal to run half a dozen doubleheaders together in 2006 — beginning with Long Beach. So, indirectly, Honda would be again associated with Champ Car.

And, despite earlier denials from HPD president Robert Clarke, don't think for a minute the six-time manufacturer’s champion in CART still isn't looking at returning to Champ Car if the IRL can't provide suitable competition.

Clarke has been talking with both sides for several weeks about having a unified series by 2007 (it ain't gonna happen) and would like the Cosworth IRL engine (owned by Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe and currently badged by Chevrolet) to continue competing against Honda.

Hyundai, the seventh largest car manufacturer in the world, is exploring the possibility of badging the Cosworth in the IRL. But it's rumored that Honda has no desire to run against the Korean manufacturer it considers inferior, so that might not work.

HPD thrives on using its engineering prowess and resources to compete against major brands so taking on Porsche in the ALMS certainly meets that criteria.

But right now it's hard to say where Honda will be past 2006. Other than sports cars, of course. More at

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