Honda Performance Development
3/1/2007 8:00:00 AM
Honda Performance Development (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., is the technical operations center for Acura and Honda's high-performance racing engines. HPD also coordinates Acura's participation in the American Le Mans Series and Honda's participation in the IRL IndyCar Series.
April 1, 1993
25145 Anza Drive
Santa Clarita, CA USA 91355
Tel: (661) 294-7300
Fax: (661) 294-7320
HPD operates out of a 123,000-square-foot building in Santa Clarita, California; opened in late January, 2005. The two-story structure houses comprehensive engine Research & Development operations, including engine design; development engineering; prototype and production parts manufacturing; race engine preparation and rebuilding; material analysis facilities; quality control inspection areas; five engine dynamometer test cells; machine shop; electronics lab; parts center; multiple meeting/conference rooms; and administrative offices.
Robert S. Clarke, President
Jack Spurney, General Manager
Yasuhide Sakamoto, Chief Engineer
Roger Griffiths, Race Team Technical Leader
Joseph Cappelli, Senior EngineerFor additional information, visit the Honda
and Acura Racing Web sites:
www.hondaracing.com or www.acuranews.com
Robert S. Clarke
In 1993, as the company's new General Manager, Robert Clarke became Honda Performance Development's first associate, charged with establishing the new American Honda subsidiary company. Clarke joined American Honda in 1981, first working in the Motorcycle Accessory Marketing department. He then transferred to the Motorcycle Product Planning department, and next served in Facility Planning, followed by a period at Honda Research & Development.
Clarke came to Honda after spending five years as a professor of industrial design at the University of Notre Dame and Texas Tech University, and three years as a designer at motorcycle accessory manufacturer Vetter Corporation. He was named HPD president in April, 2005.
A California native, Clarke studied architecture at Texas Tech University and art/industrial design at the University of Notre Dame. A long time SCCA racer, he currently owns a Chevron Formula Atlantic car that he has previously campaigned in vintage events. He also enjoys cycling, drawing and painting, and collecting fountain pens.
Clarke oversees operations at HPD and is heavily involved in HPD's long-term development and expansion into a full-fledged, performance-oriented Research & Development facility.
After receiving his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at Tohoku University in Japan, Yasuhide Sakamoto began his career with Honda in 1983 at its R&D Wako Center, in Saitama, Japan. Sakamoto worked on engine development and performance testing for several of Honda's production cars. He was promoted to Chief Engineer and Group Leader for the Engine Performance Group in 1997, and was recognized for the development of Honda's VTEC variable-valve timing system.
Sakamoto's expertise in engine development and testing technologies made him a valuable resource for racing engine development and he was transferred to motorsports in 2000. Sakamoto joined Honda Performance Development's CART program in 2000 as Chief Engineer, heading up the HPD Development Group and Race Team. He is now the Large Project Leader of HPD's race-engine development project.
Honda Performance Development, Inc.
Honda Performance Development (HPD) was established in 1993 in a small warehouse north of Los Angeles. Led by Robert Clarke and a contingent of enthusiastic designers and engineers, HPD took on the daunting task of designing and constructing a high-revving powerplant to battle many of the world's top manufacturers in the extremely-competitive Champ Car open-wheel series.
But when Andre Ribeiro crossed the finish line with his Honda-powered Reynard Champ Car at Loudon, N.H., on August 20, 1995, the open-wheel world was changed for the next decade.
Ribeiro's victory was HPD's first win and led to an incredible wave of Honda success in Champ Car with six consecutive drivers' championships, four manufacturers' championships and 65 race wins from 1995 to 2002. Ironically, HPD engines recorded exactly 65 pole positions in the same time frame. Dario Franchitti recorded the last Champ Car win for HPD on the Scot's home continent at Rockingham, England on Sept. 14, 2002.
In 2003, Honda moved to the IndyCar Series in an effort to capture HPD's first Indy 500 victory and race head-to-head with archrival Toyota. Popular Tony Kanaan drove the Andretti Green Honda Dallara to the first IndyCar win for Honda and HPD at Phoenix, Ariz., on the one-mile oval on March 23, 2003.
By the 2004 season, the normally-aspirated V-8 engine produced by HPD was the dominant motor, as Honda drivers scored 14 victories in 16 races, including Honda and HPD's first Indianapolis 500 win, when Buddy Rice took the Rahal Letterman Honda Panoz to the coveted winner's circle at the world's most famous race track. HPD's machinery took the series manufacturers' title, the drivers' crown, the Rookie of the Year award and the Indy 500 in one clean sweep.
In January, 2005, HPD headquarters moved into a state-of-the-art complex in Santa Clarita, CA, with one of the most advanced engine design and preparation facilities in all of motorsports.
The 2005 IndyCar season was similar to the 2004 campaign, with Dan Wheldon taking his Andretti Green car to the Indy 500 and series championships with the Honda and HPD powerplant. A total of 12 Victory Lane celebrations took place for HPD and the Honda domination sent competitors fleeing.
Toyota and Chevrolet decided to leave the IndyCar Series, leaving HPD and partner Ilmor to supply all of the engines for the 2006 IndyCar Series, including all 33 starters at the Indy 500.
But the HPD crew was up to the task again, and the entire 500-mile race on May 27, 2006 was run without one engine failure. No manufacturer had ever supplied the full field of the world's biggest race without some malfunction during the event. But history was made in the '06 Indy 500.
For 2007, the HPD group takes on another challenge, in addition to once again supplying engines to the full IndyCar field.
For the first time since HPD's inception, a new V-8 engine has been designed and produced wholly from the Santa Clarita headquarters for the new Acura sports car program in the American Le Mans Series.
The Acura program will field three sports cars from the Andretti Green, Fernandez and Highcroft Racing operations in the LMP2 class on the 12-race North American sports car tour.
And if those new powerplants prove strong and reliable in 2007, HPD may be ready to take on the ultimate endurance test, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 2008.