Published on December 21st, 2013 | by Jo Borrás1
PRI 2013: Honda Speaks to the Racer's Soul
Despite a solid effort from Ford that featured a hot new Mustang, the latest Ford Racing crate engine, and a little bit of on the record/off the record intrigue regarding the 2015 Ford Mustang’s live axle future, the company that set the bar at the 2013 PRI Show was Honda. The Honda racing brass spared no expense, rolling out an Indy 500-winning turbo engine and a full-range of race-ready track weapons ready to take you from the cradle, to the podium, to the grave.
Honda brought so much go-fast hardware to PRI, in fact, that I’m not even sure I scratched the surface of what’s really going on over there … but one thing, at least, is clear: Honda isn’t messing around anymore. Here’s all the 2013 Honda PRI goodness that I found intriguing, in no particular order of intriguance …
Powered by Honda Karts
Honda brought a pair of racing karts to the 2013 PRI Show. The first was a “kid kart” intended for kids to hone their racecraft and get a sense of speed going nearly 50 MPH inches from the ground. The kart is a step above the “really fast” karts you see at indoor karting settings … the second, however, leaves almost anything you’ve ever driven in the dust. It’s a Honda-powered shifter kart on a Tony chassis- a vehicle with an honest-to-goodness 6 speed transmission, a 100-ish MPH top speed, 0-60 times in the 4s with a svelte driver, and several g’s of available cornering force. A very serious step up the professional racing ladder, in other words.
Powered by Honda Ariel Atom
Here in the ‘States, the Ariel Atom is best described as an overgrown kart for adults who believe, truly believe, that the only reason they’re not top-flight Formula 1 pilots is that their parents didn’t get them into racing early enough. Ignoring that, the lightweight “exo-skeleton” car weighs less than 2000 lbs. and packs a serious, high-rpm punch thanks to its Honda VTEC engine. The Ariel shown here was a special “Honda Racing Edition” Atom, which was flogged at VIR only a few weeks before the show. Here’s what that looked like …
Powered by Honda USAC Midget
If you’ve never been o a USAC Sprint Car or Midget race, then you really don’t know oval-track racing. Long considered a stepping-stone to NASCAR and the Indianapolis 500, Midget racing has produced such legendary drivers as Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, and the great Rufus Jones (“Parnelli“, to his friends). This is real “Outlaw” style racing, often on dirt, running fuel-grade
corn mash moonshine ethanol at high compression and high RPM, pitching cars into corners and powersliding all the way around a track. Tokyo Drift wishes it could get sideways like a half-drunk and half-mad Midget driver, and now that half-drunk, half-mad Midget driver will have an alcohol-burning K24 Honda engine driving him to victory lane (or her, whatever).
Powered by Honda Formula Atlantic
Honda’s involvement in Formula Atlantic serves to put the final polish on a young driver to see if they’re ready for IndyCar’s big show. If you live in North America, the karting -> Formula Atlantic -> IndyCar path is your best hope for reaching Formula 1, even if I did skip a few steps there. This is a no-nonsense race car with a carbon fiber chassis, high downforce wings, and some serious moves.