Honda Rebrands, Reshuffles Racing Organizations as HPD Becomes HRC US

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Honda HPD Reshuffles, Rebrands as HRC USHonda HRC
  • Honda Performance Development (HPD) has a new name and, likely, new responsibilities.

  • The rebranding is intended to help unite Honda’s motorsports globally under one Honda Racing brand.

  • Honda didn’t spell out exactly what that combining expertise means, but the corporation has already announced that it will return to F1 in 2026.

Do you like corporate acronyms? Then you’ll love this: HPD will join HRC as HRC US. It likely means the former HPD will get into F1, but we don’t know yet.

A little background:

Honda Racing Corporation was founded in Japan in 1982 to race motorcycles. It did this well, winning championships in Moto GP, endurance racing, motocross, trial and Dakar Rally – the latter accomplished two years ago with American rider Ricky Brabec. Two years ago, HRC added auto racing to its portfolio, including F1.


Honda Performance Development in Santa Clarita, Calif.—HPD for short—was established by American Honda Motor Co. (AHM) in 1993 as a sort of engine rebuilding facility for Honda’s IndyCar efforts. Over the years HPD has taken on greater responsibility, including everything from IndyCar and IMSA to Touring Cars, Baja Off-Road and something called Formula Regional America.

It did pretty well. Out of 510 IndyCar races since then, Honda-powered cars have won 280, more than half (granted, some of those years Honda was the only engine supplier, but 180 of those wins came from the 410 races with more than one engine mfg.). HPD/Honda won the Indy 500 15 times, nine of those with multi-manufacturer competition. Honda and HPD have also won three Rolex 24s at Daytona, and three IMSA titles, including manufacturer’s, driver’s and team’s championships.

Now HPD has a new name and, likely, new responsibilities.

“Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) in Sakura, Japan, and Honda Performance Development (HPD) in Santa Clarita, CA, jointly announced today that HPD will formally become Honda Racing Corporation USA (HRC US) starting with the 2024 motorsports season,” Honda said. “With this change, HRC US will play an integral role in Honda’s global motorsports activities, which includes contributing to the company’s Formula 1 (F1) program.

“Collaborating as one global HRC entity, the two independent racing arms of Honda will combine their unique expertise and resources to strengthen Honda’s overall motorsports capabilities.”

Honda didn’t spell out exactly what that combining expertise means, but the corporation has already announced that it will return to F1 in 2026.

Yes, F1, where Honda-powered cars have won 89 races and taken drivers to six world championships. In recent years Honda has been in and out of F1, with mixed success. Honda supplied engines to McLaren starting in 2015 with little success at first, then it supplied Toro Rosso in 2018, then Red Bull starting in 2019. Just when things were looking good for Honda-powered Reds Bull, taking Max Verstappen to the championship, Honda pulled out. Red Bull kept developing the engine and kept winning.

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Honda’s collaboration with Red Bull proved to be a winning combination in Formula 1.Sjoerd van der Wal - Getty Images

But Honda’s larger corporate philosophy was to work toward a zero-carbon footprint, and pure internal combustion F1 engines aren’t zero-carbon. But they will be in 2026, when Honda plans to return. By then, new F1 regulations will include hybrid engines with 50 percent electric power and 100 percent sustainable fuel, which works for Honda’s stated corporate goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

What does that mean for the former HPD? We don’t know. With three F1 races in the U.S., it means more interest in this country in the sport, perhaps part of the impetus to include a U.S. Honda F1 presence in the form of the newly announced HRC US. Koji Watanabe, president of HRC, and David Salters, president of HPD, held a press conference to discuss the future of both entities.

“I'm thrilled to add HPD’s unique experience and ideas to HRC family to fortify Honda's global racing activities, including F1,” said Koji Watanabe, president of HRC. “Working together will create a new opportunity for our engineers, which has always been one of the benefits we get from racing. Racing also is one way we connect to the people emotionally and create a new fans of Honda brand.

“That will be a key objective for HRC. I have great respect for HPD’s brand, and I think our racing engineers in the U.S. and Japan will represent something bigger and stronger together, uniting Honda’s motorsports globally under one Honda Racing brand.”

HPD’s president David Salters, who spent 14 years in F1 before joining Honda full-time, was equally vague but enthusiastic.

“As HRC US we will continue to challenge ourselves in U.S. motorsports activities, but we will develop our people and technology to also race on a global motorsport stage… Not everything has been decided, but we are excited about the opportunities to contribute to global racing platforms such as F1 and possibly WEC.”

So stay tuned.