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Honda: The Power of Dreams

Submitted by on August 1, 2009

I love Hondas. My first motorised machine was a 1973 Honda QA50. A completely awesome bike when you are four years old.  After that, I owned a 1974 MR50 and these days a 1985 TLR 200 trials bike lives in my shed.

Hondas always worked well and are beautifully engineered. They looked good, and everytime you turned the page of a racing magazine, somewhere in the world someone was powering to victory on a Honda.

Racing is ingrained in the corporate culture of Honda. Mr Sochiro Honda always stressed that racing teaches teamwork. No single individual can bring success; racing is a group effort.

In 1954 Honda sent a declaration letter to his employees stating his Isle of Man TT racing ambitions.

“My childhood dream was to be a motorsport World Champion with a machine built by myself. However, before this dream could be achieved, it was obvious that a stable enterprise with the finest precision equipment, and an excellent level of in-house design was needed. These three requirements prompted me to market a utility machine to give us the necessary foundation on which to build, and it’s ironic that the time spent on this side of the business has kept me away from racing. From results witnessed at the San Paulo races, and looking calmly at what is happening in other areas of the globe, we now know what is needed to compete with the Western world.

“Progress has been rapid, it has to be said, but I am still convinced that by following my long-standing concepts, we can win on the tracks, and I will not rest until we do. Everything is in place, and the time has come to challenge the West. I hereby avow my definite intention to participate in the TT races, and I proclaim with my fellow employees that I will pour in all of my energy and creative powers to win.”

The 1959 Isle of Man TT witnessed the first entry from a Japanese team in the World GP series, the four 125cc Hondas being managed by Kiyoshi Kawashima, who had the complete trust and support of Soichiro Honda. This first challenge resulted in Honda claiming 6th, 7th, 8th and 11th in the 125cc light weight class, as well as the Manufacturers’ Team Award. At the time, against stiff opposition, this level of success was truly remarkable, prompting Honda to compete in the full GP series in the following year.

From 1960, Honda entered all of the World GP races with 125cc and 250cc machines, its efforts finally rewarded with a maiden win in the 1961 Spanish Grand Prix the opening event, when Australian Tom Phillis brought his 125cc Honda home in first place. In the next race, in Germany, Kunimitsu Takahashi became the first Japanese rider to win a World GP event, with his 250cc Honda the first Japanese bike to win in this Class. That same year, Honda was declared the double World Champion, claiming the 125cc and 250cc categories.

From that point on, the dreams grew larger and larger.

Soichiro Honda summed it up: ” We only have one future, and it will be made of our dreams, if we have the courage to challenge convention.”

Well dream they did and who could ever have imagined the incredible commercial and racing success Honda has achieved since the ‘60s.

Honda has scored race victories and won numerous championships at the highest level in both car and motorcycle racing. This is a feat often overlooked. I can’t think of any other manufacturer that can lay claim to such a rich motorsport pedigree on both two and four wheels. Racing is in Honda’s blood.

Think about the categories in which they have tasted the winning champagne. Formula 1, IndyCar, BTCC, Moto Grand Prix, Superbikes, Isle of Man TT, motocross, supercross, endure and trials. This list is never ending.

You need to dream large to create history on that scale on the world’s greatest race tracks.

The video, of course, isn’t new, but rarely has a commerical so accurately captured the spirit of the brand.I think it’s beautiful work.

Impossible Dreams indeed.

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