Honda builds a new, fast pace vehicle
Honda is debuting a new Safety Car pace vehicle for this weekend’s fourth race in the 16-contest Verizon IndyCar Series, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.
The company has produced pace vehicles since 2006 to lead the Indy cars to the green flags and through caution periods and the 2015 Honda Accord Coupe is the latest version to receive modifications that make it capable of presiding over races at both road/street courses and at oval tracks.
The Honda R&D Americas automobile prototype fabrication department started with a stock 2015 Honda Accord Coupe; to make it into a Safety Car, modifications begin under the hood.
The direct injected J-series V-6 engine has been modified with high flow fuel injectors, mated to a single BorgWarner turbocharger and a hand-crafted intake system, intercooler and handcrafted exhaust. Using a crankshaft from the Acura RLX, coupled with Honda Performance Development (HPD) competition pistons and connecting rods, this robust 3.5-liter engine now produces 400 horsepower, well above the 278 horsepower of the road-going V-6 coupe.
Honda keeps its sweet six-speed manual transmission and strengthens it with high-intensity shot peening; a limited slip differential helps with stability as do the chassis adjustments: HPD’s performance brake system featuring competition rotors, racing brake pads and stainless steel-braided brake lines are fitted to the Accord Coupe. Honda stiffened other chassis components and mounted Firestone high-performance tires to Enkei alloy rims, with an enhanced camber angle kit that improves handling at the higher speeds this Safety Car reaches.
Body modifications and interior adjustments include power-assist Sparco racing seats, four-point racing harnesses and a Honda Genuine Accessory aerodynamic body kit, with front, side and trunk lip spoilers. Honda’s “Power of Dreams” graphics package completes the conversion from street to track.
“Our team really appreciated the opportunity to work with our Honda Performance Development colleges and deliver this highly capable Accord to the series,” noted Rick Nolan,Honda R&D Americas manager of the prototype fabrication group. “The 2015 Honda Accord Coupe is an ideal match for INDYCAR Safety Car duties,” added Jim Lee, manager of experiential marketing for American Honda.
Pace car driver Arie Luyendyk, who drives all the road/street courses (Johnny Rutherford does all ovals) will give his view of the new Safety Car once he’s had a chance to pace the field for this weekend’s 90-lap contest over the 23-mile, 17-turn road course.
By Anne Proffit