|Tokyo, January 14, 1999 --- Honda Motor Co.'s motorsport activity plans
for the 1999 racing season are based on the following three 'pillars of
involvement': 1) participation in both national and international motor
racing, 2) promotional activities to offer more racing opportunities for
enthusiasts while striving to foster an environment that is supportive of
motorsports, and 3) undertaking training programs directed toward younger
generations of motorsport enthusiasts and racers.
Last year, Honda celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding. An enormous number of loyal customers and fans have eagerly supported Honda during the company's five-decade history, and to express our thanks we organized the "Thank You Festa in Motegi" on October 4, 1998. Together with the 50,000 fans who gathered for the event, we too experienced a feeling of nostalgia and pride as Honda's legendary factory riders and drivers paraded Honda's illustrious and historic racing motorcycles and cars.
In motorcycle racing, Honda clinched the Road Race World Grand Prix Manufacturers' and Riders' double titles in the 500cc class for the fifth consecutive season. In addition to this Honda won a total of seven Manufacturers' and Riders' championships in the World Motocross and Endurance, as well as titles in Japanese road racing, motocross and trial series.
In car racing, Honda-powered Indycars dominated the field of the FedEx Championship Series (also known as the CART Series) by securing the PPG Cup (Drivers'), Manufacturers' and Rookie of the Year titles. In the Formula One World Championship, the Mugen Co. Ltd. (Headquarters: Asaka City, Saitama Prefecture, President: Hirotoshi Honda) supplied its powerful 3.0-liter race engine. In the Belgian Grand Prix, the Mugen team astonished the world by grabbing an incredible 1-2 victory in the 12th round. And the Honda NSX won four successive races in the final stage of the 1998 Japan Grand Touring Championship (JGTC).
This spring, the first FedEx Championship Series event ever held in Japan took place at Twin Ring Motegi. The Ring's Super Speedway course also played host to the first NASCAR race ever held on an oval track in Japan. This new race complex has undoubtedly opened a new chapter in the history of Japanese motor racing.
At the grass-root level, "Enjoy A-License" events (which are short-term intensive courses designed to help drivers obtain a Japan Auto Federation domestic A-class racer's license) have attracted many entries. The "Play Cart Festival" collected more than 1,000 motorsport enthusiasts throughout the country. At Suzuka Circuit, the Suzuka Racing School organized the seventh SRS-J and fourth SRS-F seminars for future professional motorcycle riders (J) and racecar drivers (F). Thanks to their systematic and well-organized curricula, these seminars provide invaluable support for many graduates who now play major parts in Japan's top racing arenas, including road racing and the Formula Nippon Series.
- Motorcycle/Automobile race participation
1999 is the 40th anniversary of Honda's first active participation in motor racing at the Isle of Man TT race. Honda Racing Corporation - better known as HRC - (Headquarters: Asaka City, Saitama Prefecture, President: Yasuo Ikenoya) spearheads Honda's worldwide motorcycle racing activities. This year, Honda will compete for its sixth consecutive world title in the World Motorcycle Grand Prix's 500cc class, as well as other categories ranging from Superbike to motocross and trials. In the United States, American Honda factory teams are fully committed to clinching the road race and Supercross championships.
Turning to domestic activities, as in previous years, Honda will participate
in road racing, motocross and trials, as well as the world-famous Suzuka 8-Hour
In automobile racing, Honda Performance Development, Inc. (Headquarters: Santa Clarita, California, USA, President: Tom Elliott) has the central role of developing a new engine for Honda's sixth season of participation in the FedEx Championship Series. The new power unit, coupled with a four-team, seven-car force, symbolizes the company's commitment to defending its championship standings. For the 1999 season Honda will support Naoki Hattori, who graduated from Indy Lights to the FedEx Championship Series.
Honda continues to provide engine development technical support to Mugen Co.,
Ltd. to assist in its participation in world Formula One competition. Honda also
continuously assists the racing activities of its overseas subsidiaries, such
as Auto Traders RAC Touring Car Championship in the United Kingdom.
On the domestic front, Honda supports Mugen Co., Ltd. and Dome Co. Ltd. (Headquarters: Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Prefecture, President: Minoru Hayashi), who have initiated a joint "Mugen/Dome Project" aimed at further evolving the proven Honda NSX in the JGTC series. In other categories, Honda also assists Mugen in the development and manufacture of Civic One-Make Race cars, with specially designed racing parts and components.
- Promotional activities that will offer more racing opportunities
Under the slogan of "Watch, Join and Enjoy," Honda strives to promote motor
racing in Japan by creating an environment where many people will be able to enjoy
its many variations.
Honda supports the Formula One Japan Grand Prix held at Suzuka Circuit (Headquarters: Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture, President: Atsushi Matsuda), and the Road Race World Grand Prix and FedEx Championship Series races that will be held at Twin Ring Motegi this year (Headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo, President: Hiroshi Tohzuka). These two events are essential parts of Honda's motorsport activities.
Honda presents the Suzuka 8-Hour Endurance Race as the largest single racing event in Japan, and a major driving force in the revitalization of domestic road racing. To achieve this goal, Honda organizes the Endurance Race as an "8-Hour Festival" with a number of "on-track" and "off-track" supporting events held to further strengthen the race's position as an integrated motor racing festival.
With cooperation from Suzuka Circuit and Twin Ring Motegi, Honda presents a number of promotional driving and riding activities that include the Honda Motorcyclist School, with its newly designed trekking course, the Honda Sport Riding School as well as Parents-and-Children Riding activities. In addition, 4-wheel racing experience will be offered by a professional driver on a real high-speed circuit. Seated alongside the driver, the thrill of motorsports can be experienced first hand. Side-by-Side racing carts will be available for those who wish to drive freely. Automotive athletic meetings, "Enjoy A-License" seminars, and the "Type-R Concept Meeting," where participants have fun learning important driving skills will also be offered.
As in the past, Honda will organize the "19th Honda Econo Power Race" and the "Solar Car Race at Suzuka 1999" to provide strong support for the future of environmentally friendly motor racing.
- Future professional rider/driver training programs
Honda has been actively training youngsters who could become major contenders
in the next generation of motor racing. With eyes clearly focused on the future
of racing, Honda promotes various training programs, including the Honda Racing
Schools (road race, off-road and trials), HRC meetings, Formula Dream and Suzuka
Racing Schools (SRS-J for motorcycles, SRS-K for cart and SRS-F for race cars).
Last year, Honda's communication slogan was "Enjoy It!" Following last year's achievements, Honda decided to adopt the same slogan this year and promote it to a wider range of people. We will use this slogan as a clue to motor racing that everybody can "watch, join and enjoy" as well as the company's "contribution to society through the presentation of motorsport entertainment."
Motorcycle Motorsports Plan
Automobile Motorsports Plan
1999 Motorsports Calendar