The Beast: Indycar meets SUV

HPD Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer

What happens when you combine a sensible mid-size SUV with the next-generation Indycar powertrain? You create ‘The Beast’.

That’s what Honda Performance Development (HPD) is calling its latest creation, a one-of-a-kind creation that has installed its 2024 Indycar engine and hybrid system in the body of its CR-V SUV. Officially it’s called the Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer, but the HPD team prefers to call it by its nickname.

“This project vehicle is an Indycar ‘beast’ in Honda CR-V ‘sheep’s clothing’,” said David Salters, president and technical director for HPD. “The CR-V Hybrid Racer is our ‘rolling electrified laboratory’, to investigate where the talented men and women of HPD and Honda could go with electrification, hybrid technology and 100 per cent renewable fuels. It epitomizes Honda’s fun-to-drive ethos, showcases electrification and it just rocks our car culture roots and racing heritage. We present the CR-V Hybrid Racer – aka ‘The HPD Beast.’”

The engine in question is the new 2.2-litre twin-turbo V6 paired with a supercapacitor system and MGU hybrid motor. HPD will be able to use the Beast to test the powertrain ahead of its introduction next season; obviously alongside testing it in the Dallara Indycar chassis.

HPD Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer

As Salters mentioned, the engine runs on carbon neutral Shell fuel, another element of motorsport’s search for a cleaner future.

While the body looks like a CR-V, it’s actually completely bespoke and sits on-top of a Chromoly steel tube chassis. HPD worked with Honda’s North American Auto Design Division (the same team that helped shape the new Acura ARX-06 GTP racer) to create the wild-looking SUV, as executive creative director, Dave Marek, explained.

“When the Design Studio learned about this project, we had already established a great relationship with HPD through other projects, including the ACURA ARX-06,” he said. “So this was – pardon the pun – ‘Right in our wheelhouse’. It became a ‘what if?’ of keep the CRV as is, but add some serious attitude with parts indicative of an Indycar. Then it was back to my childhood of never building model cars right out of the box, by manipulating areas with DTM or Japanese Super GT cars in mind. I basically mocked up the idea in 3D then our amazing Digital Modelers made it work.”

The Beast will make its public debut at this weekend’s Grand Prix of St Petersburg and then attend several Indycar events this year including Long Beach, Mid-Ohio, Toronto and the season finale at Laguna Seca.

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