The founder of Honda Motor Company, Soichiro Honda, famously said, “If Honda does not race, there is no Honda.” He understood that racing was essential to the competitive spirit of his company and its people. To this day, the Japanese automaker takes this quote very seriously and internalizes it as words to live by. This is one of the many reasons why Honda participates in and is so successful at all levels of motorsports competition; from grassroots karts, to Formula 1 and Moto GP. Racing is in their blood.
Methodical to the core, Honda actually built multiple racetracks before even producing its first automobile. In 1962, they built the Suzuka circuit in Japan without even having a car to race, and just three years later, in 1965, they won their first Formula 1 victory. Since then, Honda has had a very successful run in a plethora of motorsports competitions. A few pinnacle racing stats include 74 race wins in Formula 1 plus six constructors’ championships, 245 race wins in IndyCar and eight manufacturers’ championships, and 307 race wins in MotoGP and 25 constructors’ championships. That’s a lot of wins, and it helps allow them to continue competing at a high level. You might be asking yourself, “What does Honda winning and competing in all of these races do for me?” Quite a lot, actually, if you’re a person who drives Hondas or uses any of its other products.
They Race What They Build
A look at Honda’s history points out what benefits consumers gain from an automaker that’s involved in racing. Much of the new technology in use today in Honda’s production cars is derived from their race cars. Racing serves as a test bed for trying out new ideas and technologies that then make their way into more mainstream products and cars like the Civic Type R and the Civic Si. Yes, that means your Honda automobile, motorcycle, or power product has its roots in the company’s racing programs.
Honda believes that if they can deliver podium finishes and wins in racing, this will correlate to delivering the same excellence to their customers. As far as we can tell, they’ve been able to deliver on that promise time and time again. It’s no wonder that the Honda Accord has appeared on our 10Best list a record 34 times. This doesn’t happen by accident, and it’s definitely not a fluke—Honda makes good cars. As long as the company continues to innovate and push the boundaries in racing, consumers will continue to benefit from the excellence that results.
Can Racing Benefit the Business?
Being involved in all of this racing isn’t cheap or easy, so how can Honda afford to keep the lights on? Because it pays: racing fosters brand loyalty among fans and generates excitement that is not easy to create in any other way. Not only that, but racing fans who become Honda brand loyalists are likely to become brand ambassadors without even trying. This means they’ll spread positive news and give recommendations about an automaker’s products to their network of friends and family. In plain terms, it helps sell vehicles.
Honda was able to calculate that its motorsports share of purchase influence is 4.5 percent (which they based on an Automotive News report from 2018), and last year they sold nearly 1.5 million new vehicles. That means that the volume of Honda vehicles that motorsports sold was 67,000 in 2019. Now that doesn’t mean that 67,000 people bought a Honda vehicle just because it is involved in racing, but it does mean that those people who took the survey care that Honda races and rank it as something they think is important for a manufacturer to be a part of.
Honda Performance Development (HPD) was established in 1993 and is involved in the research and development, manufacturing, and sales of a full range of race and performance parts. They provide factory support and parts for the pinnacle series like IndyCar and Acura DPi, all the way to commercial series like Touring Car, rally, karting, and more.
Honda invests in customers and makes amateur racing a priority. Customers with no affiliation to Honda can still join Honda Racing Line. This qualifies them to buy Honda race vehicles. To put it simply, you need a racing license and any history in racing to buy a turnkey race car. When customers are ready to graduate to the next series, Honda has another car for them so they can keep racing with a familiar and reliable product.
It seems that what they’re trying to do is working, as they’ve sold a lot of Civic Type R TCR race cars, which further bolsters interest in the production Type R.
A company that’s not winning races probably won’t be sticking around racing for long. Honda is able to back up its participation in such a wide variety of motorsports competitions because of the company’s amazing pedigree in racing. Winning proves being there and racing is worth it, and the people at Honda continue to demonstrate that they have what it takes.