Nerd’s Eye View: Honda R&D’s Acura ILX Endurance Racers
Khiem Dinh is an engineer for Honeywell Turbo Technologies at the time of this writing. All statements and opinions expressed by Khiem Dinh are solely those of Khiem Dinh and not reflective of Honeywell Turbo Technologies.
Honda has a good thing going here. Based at the Honda R&D campus in Torrance Ca, THR-W is a completely volunteer team composed of Honda employees from many different groups but with a common bond, a passion for racing. In corporate speak, I’d call it a cross-functional team building concept. I’ve met a few of the team members and they all live and breathe racing. They all have their racing licenses of course! Honda does provide the base cars but the team has to work like any other race team and seek sponsors while working on a tight budget.
The culmination of all the hard team work over the course of the year was getting both cars on track. Of course, there was still the race itself.
When racing on a budget, Enkei RPF1s (17×8) are hard to beat in value and performance. Behind the Enkeis is a big brake kit available through HPD’s Honda Racing Line featuring big 4-piston calipers paired with slotted 2-piece rotors. This particular rotor belonged to Princess; the other car was named Felix. Look at the lug nuts and you will see endurance racing trick number 1. To save time in the pits, the guys are THR-W devised a method to have the lug nuts already on the wheels when doing a tire change NASCAR style saving many seconds during a pit stop. Making up seconds on the race track can be very difficult, but a well prepped team can shave minutes over the course of a few pit stops during an endurance race. Only the front wheels were modified as they were changed much more often than the rears. Remember, watching the budget is always a priority and picking and choosing where to spend money is critical.
Organization is a key element to winning in endurance racing. We already saw the brake rotor was labeled for Princess to designate which car it belonged on. The tire is marked designating where it goes on the car along with the tire pressure. BF Goodrich R1 tires were used in 245/40/17 size. Oh yeah, in endurance racing, cars tend to get a bit dirty and a bit banged up. No show cars here.
Suspension was sourced from H&R which uses a coil-over strut in the front. Nearly all the parts on the car are factory pieces just as the car comes off the showroom floor. There’s no better way to test and prove the durability of your components than to go endurance racing. Plus, if you happen to damage a part in a crash and don’t have a spare, you can ‘borrow’ parts off a car in the parking lot.