Honda Performance Development: CART vs. IRL - Who Has The Inside Track?

Honda Performance Development: CART vs. IRL - Who Has The Inside Track?

By
Tom Covington, George Foster, David Hoyt, Jake Moskowitz
2003|Case No.SPM8

In 2001, Honda supplied engines to the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series, the most technically sophisticated racing series in North America. In 1996, a rival series had broken off from CART. The Indy Racing League (IRL) was controlled by the owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the series centered around the Indy 500. Since its founding, the IRL had become well established, and threatened CART’s future. Honda had many reasons to be unhappy with CART, including uncertainties surrounding future engine specifications. Honda’s motivation for racing was largely related to training of its engineers, and it wanted to compete at the most technically sophisticated level. The IRL’s lower-tech engines had not offered the technical challenge that Honda sought. However, Honda’s most important rival, Toyota, had announced that it would move to the IRL, and it appeared that some of the most powerful race teams might also move from CART to IRL. At the end of the 2001 season, Honda needed to decide on the direction of its auto racing future. The case provides an overview of the business of auto racing, with introductions to the most important series in North America as well as Formula One, the most important international series.

Learning Objective
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