Formula One Entry / 1964

Reaching for the Top in Motorsports (F-1: The Initial Phase)

Formula One Entry / 1964

"What is F-1?"

In May 1962, Hideo Sugiura, quality manager at Saitama Factory, received an unofficial order from Yoshihito Kudo, director of the research center, "We are planning to compete in F-1. I want you to oversee the project." The resulting exchange was a rather interesting one:

"What is F-1? I have seen some photographs about it before, but I don’t know what it is. Please tell me what F-1 is," asked Sugiura.

Soichiro Honda and the F-1 prototype car which was covered with a steel space frame like that of the Cooper Climax on which it was modeled

"I don’t know, either," replied Kudo. "It doesn’t matter. Everyone’s a beginner, at first." This conversation is just an example of how foreign a concept F-1, or Formula One, was to Honda’s employees at that time. What little information available to them came from the 2.5-liter British F-1 machine, the Cooper Climax, which the research center had obtained six month earlier.

Honda’s entry in F-1 was announced in January 1964. Ever since the company had won an overall victory at the Isle of Man TT Race, one of motorcycling’s most prominent races, there had been great anticipation concerning Honda’s possible move into car racing. Particularly, the employees of the research center were confident that there was no race that could not be won with their technology.

Despite the previous year’s launch of the T360 mini truck and the S500, a small sports car, Honda was still the youngest car manufacturer in Japan. It was none other than Soichiro Honda who decided to compete in F-1, before any other manufacturer in the country.

Mr. Honda’s passion had been evident since March of 1954, when the company announced its entry into TT motorcycle racing. "Since childhood," he once said, "my dream was to become a champion in world automobile racing with a machine I had made myself." Thus, Honda once again took the fateful first step toward the realization of a dream, this time in the world of cars.

Only a small number of engineers were assembled to handle the F-1 project at first, most of whom had been involved in motorcycle events only. Therefore, to conduct the necessary research and development experienced engineers were hired, and young employees fresh out of college were recruited to provide much needed manpower. The new R&D team was led by the company founder.

"The target for horsepower was decided by Mr. Honda himself," recalls Akio Okudaira, who was in charge of engine performance. "Whether that horsepower could be achieved was not the question. He just told us we must produce this much power in order to win. For example, the code name for the engine, RA270, was assigned by Mr. Honda, who probably wanted to remind us that the engine had to produce 270 horsepower."

The Challenging Spirit of Honda

1990 - 1999
  1. The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997
  2. Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994
  3. Odyssey / 1994Odyssey / 1994
  4. Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992
  5. Hosting Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991
  6. The NSX / 1990The NSX / 1990
1980 - 1989
  1. The VTEC Engine / 1989The VTEC Engine / 1989
  2. Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988
  3. An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988
  4. Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987
  5. The Airbag System / 1987The Airbag System / 1987
  6. The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983
  7. Formula One Entry / 1983Formula One Entry / 1983
  8. Development of Honda's Franz System Car / 1982Development of Honda's Franz System Car / 1982
  9. The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982
  10. Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981
  11. The Car Navigation System / 1981The Car Navigation System / 1981
  12. City / 1981City / 1981
  13. The F200 The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980
  14. Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980
1970 - 1979
  1. The Oval Piston Engine / 1979The Oval Piston Engine / 1979
  2. Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979
  3. The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978
  4. Creating Hometown Forests / 1977Creating Hometown Forests / 1977
  5. The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977
  6. Introducing the Accord / 1976Introducing the Accord / 1976
  7. CG125 / 1975CG125 / 1975
  8. Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974
  9. Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973
  10. Announcing the Civic / 1972Announcing the Civic / 1972
  11. Introducing the CVCC / 1972Introducing the CVCC / 1972
  12. Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970
  13. Launching the Office of Safe Driving Promotional Operations / 1970Launching the Office of Safe Driving Promotional Operations / 1970
1960 - 1969
  1. The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969
  2. Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968
  3. The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968
  4. Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966
  5. The E300 Portable Generator / 1965The E300 Portable Generator / 1965
  6. Formula One Entry / 1964Formula One Entry / 1964
  7. Kyoto: Celebrating the Company's 15th Anniversary / 1963Kyoto: Celebrating the Company's 15th Anniversary / 1963
  8. Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963
  9. Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962
  10. Employing the Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification / 1960
  11. The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960
1950 - 1959
  1. Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959

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