Honda Off-Road Racing Team Opens 2020 Season With Strong Qualifying Position in Friday’s Race

Coming off a two-year winning streak, the Honda Off-Road Racing Team and its Ridgeline Baja Race Truck opened the 2020 off-road racing season with a mountain of highs and one ultimate low of a DNF in the “7200” class for V6-powered race trucks in Friday’s Best in the Desert Parker 425.

Race week started out strong for the Ridgeline team, as the new race format brought a positive dimension. Best in the Desert added qualifying for the 7200 class and had two days of racing – Limited Classes on Friday, and Unlimited Classes on Saturday, meaning the 7200 class would miss the dust and big holes of the Trick Trucks. Jeff Proctor, Team Principal and driver, had a strong qualifying run earning first in class and second overall starting order – just 2.16 seconds behind the Class 10 / overall top qualifier.

“We’re used to the added challenge of battling dust and growing holes left by the Trick Trucks. And with our second on track position, it meant clean air and first on the road. The two laps I drove, were so much fun. Everything was running great, tires were holding up, our pits were smooth and fast, and we spent a lot of time in the lead. It was all going according to plan and I had hopes of an overall win for the day,” says Proctor.

The Best in the Desert Parker 425 race course is notoriously rough, and with a three lap format, it just gets rougher as the day progresses through the southwestern Arizona desert. Each lap presents competitors with wide-ranging conditions, from sand washes and rough rock sections to wide-open rally roads and with the dry weather comes dust, unlike 2019 that was held shortly after heavy rains.

Lap 3 was a scheduled driver change to long-time, accomplished desert racer and Team Manager, Pat Dailey. Navigator, Evan Weller, stayed in the Ridgeline after his two laps with Proctor.

“I knew from the time I got in, the truck wasn’t 100% and with lots of deep sand washes, we were asking the Ridgeline to work really hard,” recounts Dailey, “And just after RM 50 of Lap 3, we experienced a mechanical that ended our race. It’s the first time in three seasons of racing with the team that this has happened to me. It’s racing, it just wasn’t our day.”

Up next, is the legendary Mint 400 in March. Neither Proctor and Dailey were daunted by the weekend’s finish, both expressing how the Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck is a strong contender.

Powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 produced by Honda Performance Development, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck features a body designed by Honda R&D Americas’ Los Angeles Design Studio, with inspiration taken from the current Honda Ridgeline, also designed and developed by Honda R&D North Americas. Key design cues drawn from the 2019 Honda Ridgeline can be seen in the front fascia, hood, roof, bed and side profile.

Making approximately 550 horsepower, HPD’s 3.5-liter HR35TT engine uses the same block, cylinder heads and crankshaft as the production V6 engine that powers the all-new Ridgeline.  Additional, custom elements of the powertrain include an HPD-designed intake plenum and custom Engine Control Unit programming.

Team Honda Racing Ridgeline efforts is made possible by strong support from Honda Racing / HPDGeneral TireKMC WheelsSTEEL-IT CoatingsGibson ExhaustBaja DesignsFOXMaxima Racing OilsRPI RacingPCI Race RadiosSparcoEibach SpringsMPI InnovationsJE REEL DrivelinePro Eagle.

For additional info on the Honda Ridgeline Off-road team go to: http://www.hondaoff-road.com/ or HondaOffRoadRacing on Facebook, Instagram: @HondaOffRoadRacing or Jeff Proctor on Personal Instagram: @proctor_race.

Team Honda Talon Factory Racing Announces Drivers for Two Talon 2020 Campaign

Torrance, CA

Fresh off their successful 2019 season in short-course racing, Eliott Watson and Christopher Polvoorde are joining the new Team Honda Talon Factory Racing program, being run under the same Jeff Proctor leadership of the proven Honda Off-Road Racing Team. The factory effort is designed to prove the Honda Talon’s prowess in desert racing.

“We’ve had our eyes on Eliott and Christopher for some time,” said Jeff Proctor, Team Principal. “At their young ages, they already have long and successful careers in short-course racing, with multiple championships between them in many classes, and they show no signs of slowing down. They’re perfect for our program and we look forward to helping them develop as racers.”

Interestingly, Watson and Polvoorde were recruited separately, but these college roommates share more than just a dorm room and a history of winning short-course championships. Both started their short-course racing careers at age 10, and as time went on, they both took on management roles on their respective teams, shouldering sponsorship and engineering responsibilities.

Eliott Watson’s 2019 season was capped off with a Pro Buggy Championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and a Pro Buggy class win at the 50th Crandon World Cup. He comes from a family of off-road racers and has childhood memories of his father racing. “Like so many others in the off-road world, it’s a family passion,” Watson said. We’ve worked hard as a family to get to here.”

Watson added that he is ready for a factory effort. “Obviously, there are many benefits of joining a factory backed team,” he said, “but for me, it means being able to focus more on my racing skills and learning from the best—whether it’s engineers or other Honda racers, like Alexander Rossi.” Watson will be working closely with navigator Daniel Plaza to tackle the ever-changing desert terrain on each unique racecourse.

Christopher Polvoorde is coming off a perfect season in the highly competitive Pro Lite class in the Lucas Oil Midwest Short Course League, including, clinching the Championship and a podium-topping race at the 50th Crandon World Cup. “I’ve dreamed of desert racing for a long time, but I know it’s a different discipline and I have a lot to learn,” he said. “The Talon program is a great step for me. I’m looking forward to getting the Talon out front and all the attention that brings.” Polvoorde will be relying on the expertise of Jimmy Davidson as his navigator through the desert extremes.

Both Honda Talons will compete in an aggressive first season, running in the most respected, rough and challenging desert races in North America as they seek to conquer the many extreme styles of desert racing—including the legendary Mint 400, the rock-crawling haven of King of the Hammers, the UTV World Championships, the SCORE Baja 500, Best in the Desert’s Vegas to Reno and the iconic SCORE Baja 1000, which for 2020 will feature a point-to-point course from Ensenada to La Paz. The schedule will be the ultimate testing and proving ground for the new Team Honda Talon 1000R Turbo.

Testing and proving driver, navigator and equipment is what the Team Honda Talon Factory Racing program is all about, and Proctor feels confident the team has a solid footing on all fronts. “We’re beyond excited to get this program in front of our fans and foes alike,” he said. “We may be one of the newest to the side-by-side category, but we have the advantage of our Honda Ridgeline desert-racing program experience, and the power of Honda’s racing heritage behind us. We love the pressure of living up to the past.”

The Team Honda Talon 1000R Turbo has been engineered to take on demanding desert conditions in the UTV Production Turbo class. The side-by-sides were developed by Proctor Racing Group (PRG) using the Jackson Racing turbo kit that includes FOX Live Valve Internal Bypass shocks, KMC WheelsSTEEL-IT Coatings chassis, Gibson ExhaustBaja Designs lights, Jsport SxS Race Suspension Kit, Sparco Seats and Harnesses and MPI steering wheel.

Team Honda Racing Off Road Turned Upside Down At The Baja 1000

Team Honda Racing Off-Road fought hard to overcome a wet soaked and saturated SCORE Baja 1000 race course. Unfortunately, a series of variables led to a tough race-ending call by Team Principal Jeff Proctor at Race Mile 251.

Known as the most Prestigious and longest point to point Off-Road race in the world, the Baja 1000 is never short on excitement, drama, changes and challenges. This year the Baja peninsula received a record 4 inches of rainfall within two days leading up to the historic start. The race organizer ultimately decided to push the race start back 24hrs to allow for the rain-soaked tundra to dry out and assess the condition of the course.

They say that the only thing that is certain about being prepared to race the Baja 1000 is to be ready for the unexpected. There is always a considerable amount of logistics and work to be able to conquer this prestigious event. Team Honda Off-Road was locked and loaded to make it to the finish in their Honda Powered Ridgeline race truck.

Indy 500 Winner Alexander Rossi with Navigator Evan Weller was set to take the green flag. After starting P3 in class, the duo made quick work by passing into the lead by Race Mile 48. Once they cleared the crucial Uruapan section, Alex began to put time on the competition heading out to the Pacific coast. At about Race Mile 95, a slight miscalculation led to a rollover down an embankment. Fortunately, Rossi and Evan were not injured and worked with local spectators to roll the truck back onto all four tires and continue the race. Continuing on in the race is a testament to the strength of the new TSCO race chassis.

Team Honda was down, but not out and forged on after making some minor but necessary repairs. Rossi and Weller delivered the Ridgeline to Team Principal and Driver Jeff Proctor with Navigator Colby Wemple at Race Mile 197.

“The crew was phenomenal in getting this truck back together and allowing us to continue racing. This is the never give up spirit that is so strong on this team” said Evan Weller.

Proctor and Wemple took off in the dark of night and began to click off miles with a plan to reel back in the competition. However, after about 50 miles, the decision was made for safety reasons to call the race. “The decision to call the race is one of the toughest racing decisions I have had to make. So much energy and time go into this race, it’s heartbreaking for everyone involved. But ultimately, the safety of our drivers, navigators, and crew is our highest priority.” Said Jeff Proctor.

The team will have to endure another 351 days of the pain from coming up short in this pinnacle Off-Road Race that we call the “Baja 1000.”

Team Honda Racing Ridgeline efforts is made possible by strong support from Honda Racing / HPDGeneral TireFOXBaja DesignsKMC WheelsSTEEL-IT CoatingsSparcoEibach SpringsNEO Synthetic OilRPI RacingPCI Race RadiosAEM Air FiltersPro EagleJE REEL DrivelineMPI Innovations, and Trayco.

For additional info on the Honda Ridgeline Off-road team go to: http://www.hondaoff-road.com/ or HondaOffRoadRacing on Facebook, Instagram: @HondaOffRoadRacing or Jeff Proctor on Personal Instagram: @proctor_race.

Indy Car Star Alexander Rossi Returns To Baja 1000

After a headline-making debut in 2018 – including a near miss with a passenger vehicle on the race course captured on a video that went viral – Honda Indy car star Alexander Rossi will again take on the SCORE Baja 1000, driving the Baja Ridgeline Race Truck as part of the Honda Off-Road Racing Team.

An off-road “rookie” at last year’s running of the legendary race, Rossi quickly adapted to the unique demands of desert racing, which saw the Jeff Proctor-led Honda Off-Road Racing Team post a second-place Class 7 finish, the fourth consecutive first- or second-place result for the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the Baja 1000.

“I am more than excited to get back in this Honda Ridgeline off-road truck for the Baja 1000,” Rossi said. “It’s safe to say I decided last year, within five minutes of testing the Ridgeline for the first time, that I was going to do this again.”

Rossi is a seven-time NTT IndyCar Series race winner, including the historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. For his second Baja 1000, he will again share driving duties with team owner/driver Proctor and Baja veteran Pat Dailey, with each driver covering approximately one third of the nearly 800-mile “loop” course, which will start and end in Ensenada, Mexico.

Proctor won his class in the Baja 1000 in both 2015 and 2016 with the Ridgeline, finished second in class in 2017 and 2018; and won the companion SCORE Baja 500 race both in 2016, 2018 and again earlier this year. The Ridgeline competes in Class 7, for unlimited six-cylinder production-appearing trucks and SUVs.

“We are stoked to have Alexander back racing with us in Mexico for his sophomore attempt at this iconic off-road race,” Proctor said. “This year’s 52nd annual Baja 1000 course covers ALL of the toughest terrain and areas in Baja Norte….as always, it will be tough. Alex is one of the brightest motorsports minds I’ve worked with, and he is a great asset to our team.”

Powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 produced by Honda Performance Development, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck features a body designed by Honda R&D Americas’ Los Angeles Design Studio, with inspiration taken from the current Honda Ridgeline, also designed and developed by Honda R&D North Americas. Key design cues drawn from the 2019 Honda Ridgeline can be seen in the front fascia, hood, roof, bed and side profile.

Making approximately 550 horsepower, HPD’s 3.5-liter HR35TT engine uses the same block, cylinder heads and crankshaft as the production V6 engine that powers the all-new Ridgeline. Additional, custom elements of the powertrain include an HPD-designed intake plenum and custom Engine Control Unit programming.

Rossi is the sixth Indy 500 winner to take part in the Baja 1000. Other Indy winners who have raced in the SCORE Baja 1000 include Parnelli Jones, a two-time race winner (1971 72); fellow Honda IndyCar Series driver and Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay; Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan and Buddy Rice. Indy car season champions who have raced in the Baja 1000 include Mears, Hunter-Reay, Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy.

“The Honda off-road guys and my co-driver/navigator Evan Weller make it so easy for me to just jump right in and go to work,” Rossi said. “I can’t wait to share the seat with Jeff [Proctor] and Pat [Dailey] once again, and hopefully, bring home a win.” The Honda Off-Road Racing Team has had an outstanding 2019 season, including class wins for the Baja Ridgeline Race Truck at the Parker 425, the Mint 400 and the Baja 500; where the team successfully debuted the second-generation “TSCO” chassis; and a second-place Class 7 finish at the Vegas-to-Reno event.

The oldest, most prestigious and longest continuously held desert off-road race, this year’s SCORE Baja 1000 on Nov. 19-24 will be a loop race of 799.1 miles, starting and ending in Ensenada in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The race is the finale of the SCORE World Desert Championship. The start/finish line compound will once again be adjacent to the historic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in Ensenada. The car, truck and UTV classes will start at 10:30 a.m. PT on Friday, Nov. 22, with the first finishers expected to complete the race in approximately 13 hours.

Social media content and video links from the Ridgeline Racing effort at Baja will be available on HPD’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD) and on Twitter at (https://twitter.com/HondaRacing_HPD).

Team Honda Racing Ridgeline efforts is made possible by strong support from Honda Racing / HPDGeneral TireFOXBaja DesignsKMC WheelsSTEEL-IT CoatingsSparcoEibach SpringsNEO Synthetic OilRPI RacingPCI Race RadiosAEM Air FiltersPro EagleJE REEL DrivelineMPI Innovations, and Trayco.

For additional info on the Honda Ridgeline Off-road team go to: http://www.hondaoff-road.com/ or HondaOffRoadRacing on Facebook, Instagram: @HondaOffRoadRacing or Jeff Proctor on Personal Instagram: @proctor_race.