We have always admired Honda for charging right into Formula 1 at a time when it barely made any passenger cars at all. That’s why it saddens us to hear that the automaker is pulling out of F1. Honda made the announcement yesterday, citing a faltering economy as the reason. Earlier this year, the Honda-supplied Super Aguri team also ran out of funds.
Back in 1964, competing in a grueling, high-profile international racing series was a huge risk for an upstart Japanese automaker. But Soichiro Honda’s was never one to shy away from a challenge. The Honda RA271 pictured above was the first Japanese car to race in F1, powered by a 1.5L V12. At Honda dealers, however, the only cars you could buy were the S-series roadster and the T-series truck. The RA721 joined the 1964 F1 races mid-season and retired all three that it entered. By the same time next year, though, the team had claimed its first Grand Prix victory.
The current team is going up for sale, and if a buyer is not found within a month, they’re closing up shop. Sadly, in this economy, that looks like where things are headed.