Honda Wins 2004 Schwitzer Award

5/21/2004 8:58:22 PM

Honda has won the prestigious Louis Schwitzer Award for its efforts in developing the new 3.0-liter HI4R-A Indy Racing League IndyCar Series engine. The announcement was made Friday by the Indiana section of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), presenters of the annual award for engineering innovation and excellence.

The HI4R-A Honda Indy V-8 is a development of Honda's first IRL engine, the 3.5-liter HI3R, created in partnership with Ilmor, Ltd., for the 2003 season. In accordance with IRL rules, IndyCar engine displacement was reduced to 3.0 liters following last month's Japan Indy 300. Although cylinder heads and cylinder block bores were to remain unchanged, the displacement reduction still required new engine crankshafts, connecting rods, and camshafts; and many other internal modifications.

Beginning last January, Honda and Ilmor have combined to produce a total of 70 of the new engines, enough to supply 11 Honda entries at this year's 88th running of the Indianapolis 500. The engines are tuned and maintained by the racing arms of the two companies: Honda Performance Development of Santa Clarita, California, and Ilmor Engineering, Inc., of Plymouth, Michigan.

"We are thrilled to have that many hours of determination and hard work recognized by the Society," said Robert Clarke, vice president and general manager of HPD. "The Louis Schwitzer Award is a singular achievement in race engineering, and we are honored to be numbered among its recipients."

Yasuhide Sakamoto, HPD chief engineer, HPD engineer Steve Eriksen; and Ilmor engineers Steve Miller and Steve O'Connor will be named on the plaque and permanent trophy as the senior team members responsible for the design and development of the HI4R-A engine.

"We are pleased and honored to join the distinguished list of Louis Schwitzer Award recipients," said Paul Ray, president of Ilmor Engineering. "The development of the HI4R-A in such a short time frame was a massive undertaking for both Honda and Ilmor, and to have its successful debut recognized by the Society is a great reward for everyone who has contributed in this effort."

On Saturday, Honda drivers and teams dominated MBNA Pole Day Qualifying, claiming all but eighth place in the first three rows of three cars each, and nine of the first 12 grid positions. These efforts were led by pole qualifier Buddy Rice of Rahal Letterman Racing, with an average speed of 222.024 mph. Andretti Green Racing teammates Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti filled out the first qualifying row. In addition, Kosuke Matsuura, driving for Honda-powered Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, was the fastest of five rookie qualifiers last weekend in ninth.