Honda Performance Development's production-based racing program continues to grow as the 2012 racing season begins, with customer Honda and Acura teams racing in Touring Car series in both the United States and Canada.
In 2012, drivers and teams will be competing in series ranging from the Grand-Am Continental Tire Challenge Series to Sports Car Club of America Club Racing. In addition, new B-Spec category Honda Fits will be raced in both professional and amateur categories this year. HPD provides components and technical support to teams competing in all of these series - from professional organizations to the smallest club racing teams making their initial forays into motorsports - through the Honda Racing Line.
Developed from the popular "Showroom Stock" racing series of the 1980s, today's professional North American Touring Car racing series - the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Pirelli World Challenge and Canadian Touring Car Championship (CTCC) - all feature large fields, with fierce competition throughout.
"With the development of the 2012 Honda Civic Si for Touring Car racing and the introduction of B-Spec for both professional and club racing, it's been a very busy off-season for HPD," said Lee Niffenegger, HPD senior engineer responsible for production-based racing. "There has been a definite upsurge in interest from both the U.S. and Canada for this year, and we're looking forward to exciting seasons in Grand-Am, World Challenge and Canadian Touring Cars."
Toronto-based Compass360 Racing takes part in both the SCCA and Grand-Am series, and claimed the 2010 CTCC championship for Honda. In addition, Compass360 joined HPD and the Honda of America Racing Team (HART) to develop the 2012 Honda Civic Si for Grand-Am competition. The car will run in both the SCCA and Grand-Am this year.
In 2012, Compass360 will field multi-car efforts using Civic Si's in the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge and Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. The driver lineup includes former champions David Thilenius, Trevor Hopwood, and Adam Burrows, as well as previous race winners and championship contenders Ryan Eversley and Todd Lamb.
Led by the most successful driver in Acura history, Peter Cunningham, Wisconsin-based RealTime Racing has waved the "Caliper A" banner in professional competition since 1996, winning a total of 10 manufacturers' championships in every division of the series with an assortment of race-tuned Acura products. RealTime campaigns the Acura TSX in the GTS class, and this year will run V6 power for the first time.
In the World Challenge TC class, the Honda Civic Si is the vehicle of choice, with at least five teams taking part in the 14-race schedule. Compass360 will have a multi-car program including Lamb, Ryan Winchester and Shea Holbrook, who last year became the first woman to win a Touring Class World Challenge event. Branden Petersen returns with his 2010 Civic, and is building up a new 2012 Si from a body-in-white kit available from HPD.
Veteran racer Peter Schwartzott Sr. is also preparing a new 2012 Civic from an HPD body-in-white kit. Durabond Racing comes to the World Challenge this year with driver Anthony Rapone, the CTCC champion in 2010, in his Honda Civic Si. TLM Racing returns for another year with its 2010 Civic for Peruvian racer Guty Michelsen.
The Honda Civic Si competes in the Street Tuner (ST) division of the Grand-Am endurance-racing series. Compass360 Racing, a multiple-champion in the category for Honda, will field four cars with a driver lineup including Burrows, Hopwood, Thilenius and Eversley.
Honda of America Racing Team (HART), made up of associates from Honda of America Manufacturing in Ohio, returns with its 2012 Civic Si in HPD livery for former SCCA national Champion Chad Gilsinger and Canadian Michael Valiente, with a second Civic expected later in the season. Randy Smalley Racing (RSR) joins the HPD family this year after several seasons with another manufacturer. The team is running a 2011 Civic previously built by HPD for drivers Chris Puskar and Owen Trinkler. Other teams campaigning Civics this year include Marren Motorsports and veteran Matt Chambers' North Carolina-based Raceworks operation.
North of the border, Honda returns as defending manufacturer champion of the Canadian Touring Class, and M&S Racing's Tom Kwok will be back to defend his drivers' title with his Honda Civic and his teammate/brother, Gary. Other Honda teams in the series include 89 Racing Team with driver Jocelyn Hebert; Paul Dargis and his Dargis Motorsports team; and Blanchet Motorsports with driver Damon Sharpe.
In 2012, all three professional series have added a new "B-Spec" division, designed as an inexpensive, entry-level category for compact cars such as the Honda Fit, developed for participation in the new class by HPD. B-Spec Fits will also make their debut in SCCA Club Racing this year, while Civics and other Honda/Acura products continue to feature throughout multiple classes in both the SCCA and National Auto Sport Association (NASA) club events.
Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda racing company within North America. Founded in 1993 and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines. HPD prepares and fields the Honda Indy V6 turbocharged engines used in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, and spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009-2011 American Le Mans Series, 2010 Le Mans Series and the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans.
HPD also administers The Honda Racing Line to provide racing enthusiasts and professionals with dependable racing products and support, from entry level to pinnacle forms of motorsports.