A Reader Writes

An AR1 reader notes that Honda was quite dominant about a decade ago.

It is interesting to me that Honda was winning regularly before 2006, when the IRL became a single-engine series. Maybe the answer for them winning again is uncovering the changes that were made inside Honda around 2007, 2008 and going back to what worked.

Could it be that easy?…Curious in the Windy City


Brian C. here.

Yes, Honda kicked butt for about a decade from 1996-2005 in CART and then the IRL. But is as easy as going back to whatever rubric they used then? Doubtful. Those were fundamentally different times with fundamentally different circumstances.

Remember, when Honda got into CART and then later switched to the IRL their focus was more on development and engineering. Also, back then Honda was willing to write some rather hefty checks to secure the services of top drivers like Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan in their pursuit of wins and championships.

What changed after 2006 when they became a single-supplier was HPD became more of a production oriented company. In other words, they produced x engines at $1 million plus a lease. Remember, some years they were supplying up to forty engines for the Indy 500 alone.

When Chevy entered the series guns-a-blazing in 2012, Honda was clearly prepared for the challenge. They won Indy in 2012 and 2014 then the championship in 2013. However, the philosophy at HPD had changed in the intervening years. Combine that with a global recession which slashed R&D budgets and made board room types increasingly more demanding about where precious dollars are spent, and the fact IndyCar does offer the commercial return it did in 2005 or 1995 and the Honda of 2015 is not the Honda of 2005 or 1995.

To be clear, that's not a criticism, just a reflection of Chevrolet out-maneuvering them with the latest rule changes and a business reality of changed times.

Hope that helps. Thanks for reading AR1 and taking the time to write.

Brian C.

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