Honda marks return to off-road racing with launch of Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at 2015 SEMA Show

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 7, 2015

Honda has unveiled its Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the 2015 SEMA Show, marking the carmaker’s comeback in the world of off-road truck racing. The Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck – featured in red, white and black Honda Racing livery – also previews the styling direction for the 2017 Honda Ridgeline pickup that will be available starting in the first half of 2016.

This tube-frame off-road racer is set to take part in the 2015 SCORE Baja 1000 and is being developed by Honda Performance Development (HPD) in collaboration with the Proctor Racing Group. HPD is Honda's motorsports engineering unit in the United States.

Its body was designed by Honda R&D Americas' Los Angeles Design Studio and inspired by the next-generation Ridgeline truck. It features certain cues from the MY2017 Honda Ridgeline, particularly on the front fascia, hood, side profile, roof and bed.

HPD president Art St. Cyr remarked that the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck provides a glimpse of some of the high-level styling direction for the new Ridgeline and signals the return of HPD power to the Baja race. He noted that while the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck is distinct from the production Ridgeline, it proves the company’s prowess in building a pickup with true truck capability.

Serving as the core of the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck is HPD's 3.5-liter HR35TT race engine (twin-turbo V6) that develops over 550 hp of output. Interestingly, this engine employs the same block, cylinder heads and crankshaft as the production engine that is bound to power the all-new 2017 Ridgeline.

Moreover, the engine features custom elements like an HPD-designed intake plenum and custom engine ECU programming. Honda’s booth at the 2015 SEMA Show also features several personalized Honda cars and SUVs as well as powersports products and two- and four-wheeled racers.

For instance, Honda is showcasing the 2016 Honda HR-V and the 2016 Honda Civic Sedan. The Japanese carmaker has tapped four custom-designed HR-Vs from top Bisimoto Engineering, MAD Industries, Tjin Edition and Fox Marketing – all demonstrating how far customers could personalize this gateway crossover SUV.

Meanwhile, the 2016 Civic Sedan at SEMA comes fitted with a full suite of Honda Genuine Accessories. On the other hand, the 2016 Pilot Elite Concept "Black Edition" is laden with an array of available Honda Genuine Accessories, and as its name suggests, it provides a preview of what this SUV looks like when offered with a dark theme.

Honda also unveiled its 2016 Honda CR-Z hybrid sports coupe to North America, featuring new styling and enhanced equipment. It also now features a new EX-L Navi trim.

Likewise, the Japanese carmaker introduced a support vehicle for its SCORE Baja 1000 campaign, the Pilot Baja Chase Vehicle, which is basically a specially tuned 2016 Honda Pilot wrapped in desert racing livery.

To run alongside the Pilot Baja Chase Vehicle during the campaign is Honda’s newest offering -- the Pioneer 1000. This vehicle is wrapped in custom desert raving livery.

As for the next-generation Ridgeline, Honda is planning to launch the MY2017 truck in the first half of 2016.

When the carmaker launched the first-generation Ridgeline in 2005, the truck defied design conventions by coming in as a boxed frame uni-body design that offers remarkable driving dynamics, interior space and fuel efficiency.

Aside from that, the Ridgeline offered midsize pickup towing, hauling and off-road capabilities. Moreover, the Ridgeline pioneered a number of features like a dual-action tailgate and lockable In-Bed Trunk. With these features, the Ridgeline was accorded the 2006 North American Truck of the Year and Motor Trend 2006 Truck of the Year.

It also led its segment in J.D. Power's APEAL study for three years in a row. On the other hand, the second-generation aims to continue the momentum set by its predecessor. Also designed and developed in North America by Honda R&D Americas, the MY2017 Ridgeline will be manufactured at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama.

It will be a great addition to Honda’s light truck offerings that already include the Honda CR-V, the 2016 HR-V crossover, and the redesigned 2016 Pilot. After the launch of the Ridgeline, Honda will introduce the redesigned Odyssey minivan in the second half of 2016. All of Honda’s light trucks – save for the HR-V --are produced at the carmaker’s Ohio and Alabama sites.

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