Honda IndyCar Racing - A Look Inside A Tiny V6 That Makes 700+ Horsepower

With an Indianapolis 500 win and several top 10 finishes under its belt, the new HI14RTT Indy racing motor by Honda Performance Development is quite the engine. Despite a tiny 2.2L displacement, the V6 HI14RTT makes over 700hp. Seven different teams in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar race series use what might be Honda's most advanced racing powerplants - here's a closer look.

New Rules = New Engine

For the 2014 IndyCar season, new technical regulations resulting in engine developers working on overdrive. IndyCar dictated the engines must be twin-turbocharged, with a maximum of 6 cylinders, and only 2.2 liters of displacement. IndyCar also restricted the cylinder bore to a maximum of 95mm, and set a maximum engine RPM limit of 12,000.

These changes have been a long time coming. Honda isn't the only company producing racing engines for the IndyCar series, and these mandates are designed to both improve competitiveness and keep costs down.

Mandating a twin-turbo setup, for example, allowed all engine makers to use the same new EFR 7163 turbos. Before, Honda was using a Borg-Warner EFR-9180 turbo mounted on the bell housing, while Chevy and Lotus had been using twin-turbo setups. While Lotus dropped out of engine production, Chevy was using Borg Warner's EFR 6758, which was a bit limiting compared to the new EF 7163 turbos. This limit was intended to ensure the Chevy and Honda engines were competitive. With the new mandate, this limitation is gone.

There have also been some changes to the rules for the manufacturer's championship. Engines that race for 2,500 miles without being changed out are worth points. Winning engines that adhere to the 2,500 mile change out rule will accumulate bonus points in the manufacturer's championship, while change outs before the 2,500 mile limit will cost manufacturers points.

These durability rules, turbo mandates, RPM limits, and bore diameter limits are all about cutting costs, if you can believe it. All but forcing engine manufacturers to build engines that run 2,500 miles without a problem, for example, ensures engine designers will use proven technologies rather than expensive new designs. Limiting RPMs reduces the need for exotic materials for connecting rods, pistons, rings, and cylinder sleeves. Etc.

Not to mention, durability is sort of important to the auto industry. Lessons learned about racing durability may translate to improving consumer vehicles.

What We Know About The Honda IndyCar Engine

Official specs about the HI14RTT from Honda Performance Development aren’t to revealing. However, we know Honda is staying with the Borg Warner turbo-charger and is probably using the new EFR 7163 turbos.

Here are the available specs from Honda:

  • Engine Type: Twin turbocharged V6 with combined direct and indirect fuel injection
  • Displacement: 2.2L (134.25 cubic inches)
  • Valvetrain: Dual overhead camshaft with four valves per cylinder
  • Crankshaft: Steel alloy four main bearings
  • Pistons: Billet machined aluminum alloy
  • Connecting Rods: Machined alloy steel
  • Engine Management: McLaren Electronics Engine Control Unit (ECU), Honda fuel injection driver control unit and Drive-By-Wire (DBW) electronic throttle control
  • Ignition System: Digital inductive
  • Lubrication: Dry sump system, featuring both pressure and multi-stage scavenge pumps, with a front-mounted oil tank
  • Cooling: Single mechanical water pump feeding a single-sided cooling system
  • Transmission: Six-speed sequential, paddle-operated, with a hand-operated clutch
  • Fuel: IndyCar Series mandated E85 race fuel
  • Weight: Approximately 250 lbs (112.5 kg), series-mandated minimum weight

Taking a close look at the photo, we can a major change to the air box to accommodate twin air inlets for the new twin turbo-chargers. Also, the electrical wiring is different as are the intake manifold and various plumbing lines according to

There’s no word about whether the crank is an offset-pin or straight-pin style. 

No manufacturer releases horsepower numbers, but insiders are guessing its output is in the 750 horsepower range. 

With these new turbos powering the Honda team, one thing is for sure, many victory lanes are in their future.