Honda Performance Development Moves Into New Home

3/1/2005 7:16:05 PM

When Honda Performance Development began life in 1993, it had a tiny office, big dreams and one employee.

"I had a desk and a telephone and I was the only employee for the first three months," recalls Robert Clarke.

Today, the Vice President and General Manager of HPD goes to work at an expansive new facility in Santa Clarita that shows off Honda's technical prowess and its commitment to motorsports.

"It's really an impressive facility and we're blessed to work with a company that embraces racing the way Honda does," said Clarke. "There aren't many companies with this kind of commitment."

The new HPD facility is just a short distance from the old building, but that's about the only similarity. HPD went from 43,000 square feet to 123,000 and two dynamometers to four, with space for three more. It's grown from 25 employees to 125.

And even more impressive is HPD's evolution.

"For the first 10 years we were a service organization that built and re-built engines and gave trackside support," continued Clarke. "I never imagined we would become a real R&D racing engine company that could design it, built it, manufacture it and develop it. That kind of capacity has always been with Honda R&D in Japan.

"But now we're on our own, and it's both exciting and terrifying. It's a fantastic opportunity for our people because we've never had that capability. We use racing to develop our people and you can really see Honda's commitment."

Besides the Indy Racing League, Clarke expects HPD to eventually branch out into other series and maybe aftermarket parts as well.

"We'll be doing more than we're currently doing with the IRL, and considering the state of motorsports worldwide, it might be beneficial to be diversified," he said. "We started with CART and now we're in the IRL but the company is structured to be diversified.

"Our mission is to be the R&D company that supports American Honda's direction ... wherever it goes."