A visit to the Honda Collection Hall
When the majority of the general public in North America think of Honda, it’s probably safe to say the first things that come to mind are of a company that prides itself on safety and as a mass producer of consumer friendly, fuel efficient economy cars. However, from a global perspective, what many people including even Honda owners themselves don’t know, is Honda’s long and illustrious heritage in motorsport both in 2 and 4-wheeled competition which dates back nearly half a century.
Honda Motor Company was founded on racing, which is what makes it fundamentally different from all other Japanese car companies. In fact, many in the automotive and racing world have often commented on the similarities between Ferrari and Honda. They are both racing companies that just happen to build cars and in Honda’s case, many other things (motorcycles, planes, robots, lawnmowers etc.) Plus, much like Enzo Ferrari, Soichiro Honda was a racer to the core. As consumers of Honda products, we gain from their activities when their racing technology trickles down Honda’s lineup. Whether it’s the exotic NSX or compact Civic, every Honda vehicle, be it car or motorcycle, benefits from the racing technology they acquire from competition in the highest levels of motorsport.
Without going into too much detail (as any random search on the internet will yield Honda’s various achievements and championships in all levels of motorsport), Honda has won championships in motorcycle, touring car, endurance, sports, CART, IRL, F2, and F1 racing. It is unfortunate then, that despite such an impressive portfolio of racing heritage, Honda is not better known to the average person as a racing company. This moniker is more often reserved for companies like Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Ferrari and the like, when in fact, Honda has mastered many more racing disciplines than the aforementioned companies and has a motorsport heritage that if not equals, at least surpasses many of them as well.
On a personal level, my earliest memories of Honda came when I was an 11-year old watching Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost decimate the competition in 1988 with their legendary McLaren-Honda MP4/4 F1 racecars. The sight of the Marlboro liveried red and white McLaren-Honda F1 cars tearing up the track left an indelible impression on me and of Honda and its connection to racing. Since then, I’ve been a loyal follower of their racing exploits and a fan of Honda’s automobiles. As testament to this, my wife and I have owned and currently own many Honda vehicles including a 1997 Civic hatchback, a 1994 Del Sol Si, a 2000 Accord V6 coupe, a 2003 S2000, and a 2005 Pilot. While the Del Sol and Accord have long gone, we still have the Civic, which has transformed from my college commuter to a dedicated track car; the S2000 for daily driving fun and the Pilot for hauling our baby boy around town and lugging my books to and from law school.
For many years, I have planned to visit Japan to attend the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Suzuka and to also visit Honda Collection Hall at Twin Ring Motegi. But for some reason or another, my plans were always sidetracked until earlier this year when I was invited by an old high school friend to his wedding in Taipei in June. I took this opportunity to plan a short stop in Japan and although the F1 Grand Prix at Suzuka wouldn’t be until October, I was still happy to be able to find time to experience the Honda Collection Hall.
The Honda Collection Hall situated within the Twin Ring Motegi circuit is a place to celebrate all that is Honda. Located in the town of Motegi, the vast collection of Honda race and production machinery kept within this building is arguably, outside of any current racing events at Twin Ring (which include high profile MotoGP and IRL races), the biggest attraction of the circuit. It is also a very difficult place to get to as it is very far removed from the big cities. Fortunately for me, a friend helped me map out my trip otherwise I highly doubt I would have been able to find it on my own. Armed with the map my friend drew me, I left at 6:00am from Shinjuku and had to train hop with the bullet train finally landing me in Utsunomiya, where I then got on a bus to a stop near Twin Ring and took a taxi into the facilities at around 10:30. Subtracting some stops I made for food and drink, and waiting for the bullet train and bus to arrive, I’d say it took about 3 hours to arrive at Twin Ring Motegi.
Once inside, I was stunned by the sheer volume and variety of vehicles displayed on every floor. From mini bikes to powerful GT and F1 Honda racecars, every vehicle told a story about the history and heritage of this great company. It was incredible to see in one room at the same time, the 1995 LeMans NSX, and not far from it, Ayrton Senna’s 1988 McLaren-Honda MP4/4 F1 racecar positioned next to the infamous turbo Honda V6 engine that powered it to 15 of 16 wins during the season.
I could go on and on about the sights, but I hope the pictures I took during my time there can give S2Ki.com readers a sense of what it was like to be there in person. The quality of my photos are far from good, and some unfortunately, came out slightly blurry, but hopefully, they are still clear enough to enjoy! And for anyone interested in visiting Twin Ring Motegi and Honda Collection Hall in the future, please do not hesitate to send me a PM at Honda F1 Racing and I will be more than happy to offer more information and answer any questions.
Jerry Wang/Honda F1 Racing
* editor’s note: There was a post in the discussion thread from longtime gold member smyroad that was put so well, we thought it deserved repeating here:
It has always amazed me that Honda is not thought of as a racing company. Every time Honda enters a racing series, it dominates. Usually the series organizers have to change the rules effectively banning the Honda platform/Engine configuration to give the other guys a chance.
On the other hand, being known as a fuel efficient, reliable, great transportation above all really shows that Honda got it right. The other monikers are know for racing primarily because the daily drivers have poor fuel economy and are unreliable, uncomfortable and expensive – a compromise blamed on their racing heritage.
Honda translates it’s racing heritage into great cars for everyone. No other car company has even come close.