A first look inside Suzuka Circuit’s Honda Racing Gallery

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Honda’s entry into Formula 1 at the 1964 German Grand Prix. Today, April 5, Honda is using the occasion to open a new museum dedicated to Honda motorsports at Suzuka Circuit, which began hosting the Japanese Grand Prix in 1987. It was only a year after Honda had started producing cars, and the sport was largely unknown in Japan.

Having had success in motorcycle racing, especially at the UK’s Isle of Man TT, Honda had inked a deal to supply engines to Lotus. However, just before the 1964 season kicked off Lotus canceled the contract. That left Honda scrambling to develop its own chassis in six months. missing half of the 1964 calendar.

The resulting car, the V12 RA271, made its debut at the NĂĽrburgring that August. It ultimately placed 13th, then retired two more times at Italy and Mexico. The following year, Honda came back with the redesigned RA272 and won the final race of the season, the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix.

The Honda Racing Gallery celebrates 60 years of Honda’s F1 efforts. The main hall shows the winning RA272 alongside the Red Bull Racing RB16B, with Max Verstappen winning the Drivers’ Championship in 2021. It was Honda’s first championship in 30 years.

Other cars include 1967’s Italian GP-winning RA300, a 1987’s Williams-Honda FW11B that won that helped clinch that year’s Constructors’ Championship, and three red-on-white McLarern-Hondas, MP4/4 through MP4/6, that marked Honda’s 1988-91 era of F1 domination.

The historic cars above will be on permanent display in the main gallery. In a separate hall exhibits will rotate with different themes. For the opening, the theme is hometown drivers, honoring F1 racers from Japan.

Cars in this display include the 1988 Lotus-Honda 100T driven by Satoru Nakajima, the 2007 Super Aguri Honda SA07 driven by Takuma Sato, and the 2021 Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda AT02 driven by Yuki Tsunoda. This display will run from the grand opening on April 5 to mid-June.

For years, fans attending events at Suzuka did not have a proper venue for viewing historic race cars. These machines were all kept at the Honda Collection Hall at Honda’s other track, Twin Ring Motegi, several hours away. How they have a home in Japan’s first international circuit, and Honda heads will have two Honda museums to choose from.

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