NASCAR says talks with Honda to join as a manufacturer are ‘heating up’

NASCAR says talks with Honda to join as a manufacturer are 'heating up'

The talks and negotiations to include Honda as a new original equipment manufacturer in the Cup Series are “heating up,” according to NASCAR COO Steve O’Donnell.

NASCAR COO Steve O’Donnell has revealed negotiations to bring in a new manufacturer for competition are “heating up,” as the Daytona 500 marks the beginning of the racing series’ 2024 regular season this weekend.

It’s also NASCAR’s biggest weekend in terms of attendance and viewership, as well as the presence of prominent executives from the automotive industry including Honda.

NASCAR has been searching for a fourth manufacturer to join Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota for more than a decade. Although Honda has always been the apparent choice, no firm agreement has been established in the negotiations.

However, given that Honda is investing a significant amount of financial resources in its US market research, the Japanese manufacturer may join the Cup Series in the not-too-distant future.

Dodge withdrew from the sport in 2012 although there were speculations regarding a possible return in 2022. NASCAR has also been pursuing Honda for years and is still in contact with the automaker according to a person who has knowledge of the situation.

“The great thing is you talk about our current partners, they’ve been tremendous not only with current technology in the car but being very open to new technology whether it be a different engine architecture or what we race, so those discussions are always forward-thinking,” O’Donnell was quoted by SBJ.

O’Donnell thinks NASCAR won’t experience the issues that many have predicted could arise from a new manufacturer joining the ranks of the current manufacturers.

“Our current partners are very open to new OEMs coming in and open to having conversations about that possibility,” he added. “They know that at the end of the day, being in NASCAR sells cars. It’s a proven thing and it’s a place OEMs want to be and should be.”

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Asked about the possibility of joining NASCAR, Honda & Acura Motorsports Manager Chuck Schifsky wrote in an email: “As part of our role managing American Honda’s motorsports programs, we need to investigate all forms of motorsport here in the U.S., and as a part of that process, educate ourselves on what race fans are looking for. With that said, we have nothing new to report in terms of our future motorsport direction.”

It is becoming more difficult to come to a consensus on the kind of powertrains that NASCAR should be testing or even fully incorporating as a result of the industry’s electrification, which was spurred by Tesla’s success. Various automakers are either totally embracing or eschewing this trend.

NASCAR had been working on developing its own electric race car and was planning to debut it at the Busch Light Clash earlier this month before schedule changes derailed plans. NASCAR also traveled to Japan during the off-season in an effort to learn more about hydrogen racing which Toyota has recently embraced.

Notwithstanding the upheaval in the automotive industry, racing series are benefiting from changing circumstances since they can persuade automakers that they can assist them in developing and marketing new technologies.

For instance, the Volkswagen Group’s Audi brand and the massive American General Motors have committed to working with Formula One in recent years.

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