Honda wants at least one more engine manufacturer in the IndyCar Series. And you can be that series officials will try to comply with the Japanese auto maker’s desire.
After Lotus pulled out following last season, Honda and Chevrolet became the only engine makers left in the open-wheel series.
Supplying engines for half the IndyCar field is more than Honda officials bargained for. Series officials limit the amount Honda and Chevy can charge for an engine lease at $695,000. Honda and Chevy officials say that’s well below what they spend to design, develop and make the race engines.
“When you’ve got seven or eight cars and you’re subsidizing them, that’s one thing. But when you’ve got 12 or 13 or 14 and you’re subsidizing them, that’s completely different, and it’s hard for all of us to continue to maintain that level of subsidy,” Honda Performance Development technical director Roger Griffiths told Autosport.
Honda officials said they’d stay with the series another two or three years while IndyCar officials search for another engine maker or two. But after that, they’re not making any promises.
Losing Honda would be a huge blow to the series, not only due to their role as a quality engine supplier, but because they spend millions of dollars annually to promote IndyCar racing. Honda has been one of the pillars of the series since it began supplying engines for the series—then known as the Indy Racing League—in 2003.
Griffiths told Autosport that adding a third or even fourth engine maker to the series is “critical” to the long-term health of IndyCar racing.
Series officials are reaching out to potential new engine suppliers, said Derrick Walker, IndyCar president of operations and competition. He added that it’s important that they don’t make hasty deals, but only sign on with quality engine makers. Lotus provided engines for the 2012 season, but those were severely underpowered.
Walker credits the good on-track racing this year in large part to Honda and Chevy, and said the addition of any engine makers would be done in consultation with those two series partners.