Honda and IndyCar have agreed to a multi-year extension of the agreement to retain the supply of engines from the Japanese firm to teams competing in the popular race series.
The deal guarantees Honda’s participation as an engine supplier and promotional partner through 2017 with options through 2020. Honda has competed in IndyCar racing since 1994 and joined the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2003.
To some, the announcement was a foregone conclusion. To Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the 2014 Indianapolis 500 with Honda power, it was music to his ears.
“I have a phenomenal relationship with Honda,” Hunter-Reay said. “They’ve done so much for me and my career, but for the sport itself, they’ve really been the backbone.”
“Through all the years when I first came into the [Verizon IndyCar Series] in 2007 through 2011 and then when competition [with Chevrolet]came in, Honda stayed true and continued to fight and win races. I’m just thrilled I have an Indy 500 win with them and now I want to go get a championship with them,” he added.
Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development, said that while final approval of the contract extension took time, both Honda and IndyCar eye-to-eye on the direction of the series.
“Honestly, I think that just about everything we fundamentally agree on,” St. Cyr said. “Where we want to go, how we want to get there, what we want this series to be. I think it’s a very common understanding of that.”
That includes the addition of a third engine manufacturer if the opportunity presents itself, according to Mark Miles, chief executive officer of Hulman & Co., the parent of IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It’s a long, drawn-out process for a third manufacturer to come in and be competitive in this series,” Miles said. “I would say the first thing is that Honda and Chevy completely share with us a view that a third manufacturer would be good. Another competitor, another storyline, another investor to help promote the sport would simply be good.”
“We’ve had situations where Honda has said, ‘You may want to talk to these guys.’ It’s been quite collaborative. I think it’s more like a question of when than whether [a third manufacturer will enter the series],” Miles added.