Honda contemplates IndyCar exit amidst rising cost of competition - Reports

Honda Performance Department (HPD) branding on the Dallara DW12 chassis, which made up the 2018 spec IndyCar. Picture Credits: Chris Owens/IndyCar
Honda Performance Department (HPD) branding on the Dallara DW12 chassis, which made up the 2018 spec IndyCar. Picture Credits: Chris Owens/IndyCar

Having entered America's premier open-wheeled racing series in 1994, Honda has reportedly been forced to weigh its future in IndyCar after the 2026 season. One of the two current engine manufacturers in the series, Honda supplies engines to the teams alongside Chevrolet for the complete season of racing.

The North American arm of the Japanese automotive giant has reportedly had to face the reality of return on investment in the NTT IndyCar Series, as costs continue to soar. According to recent reports, Honda Performance Department or HPD has been in talks about whether to return as an engine supplier in the series after 2026, when their current contract with the sport comes to an end.

Honda currently supplies over half the field of 27 full-time entries in the open-wheeled series through the 17 races in 2023. The annual Indy 500 also necessitates around 17-18 entries from Honda's stable itself competing in the famed 500-mile-long event, further burdening the OEM with the cost-to-return ratio.

American Honda Motorsports Manager Chuck Schifsky elaborated on the same issue as he spoke to and said:

"If we were to choose not to renew, that would be the reason why. And it’s easy to see. We don’t have a third manufacturer, and there’s a reason for that: It has to do with the cost. If the return on investment matched up with the investment, we’d have a number of other manufacturers involved."

Schifsky further elaborated that an engine regulation change could possibly sway Honda's outlook of IndyCar with a viable future:

"We’re looking for a wholesale change to the engine regulations so that we can eliminate fives and tens of millions of dollars of annual technical costs, because if we don’t, then it’s too much money, and we will go do something else."

While it is unlikely that a third engine manufacturer would join the NTT IndyCar Series soon, an expansion move from Chevrolet could be the last resort for the series to retain Honda as an engine supplier.

HPD reportedly happy to supply engines to 10 entries in case a third manufacturer joins IndyCar

In the case of a third OEM joining in as an IndyCar engine supplier, Honda, and their American racing department HPD would reportedly change their approach to the sport.

Penske Entertainment's CEO Mark Miles discussed the possibility of a new manufacturer joining the series before the new hybrid engine era. Miles was quoted as saying to

"I think that we’re not likely to see the third OEM happen until we get the hybrid on the track and people see what it does for us, and then I think it does some great things. The technology itself is interesting."

Honda Motorsports Manager Chuck Schifsky further elaborated on having new competition in the series to

"It would change our outlook quite a bit. If you imagine we’re now supplying 15 or 16 or 17 cars, if that drops down to say nine or 10, that will definitely reduce our costs and improve the return."

It remains to be seen how Honda, a storied manufacturer in IndyCar, sees viable options going forward.

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Edited by Prathik BR