• HPD Driver Academy cultivates next generation of drivers with coaching from top racing talent
  • Honda Civic Type R TCR adds to academy’s program ladder
  • HPD’s racing success paves way for driver development


Santa Clarita, Calif. (Oct. 14, 2021) – As the leader of Honda and Acura high-performance and motorsports programs in North America, one of Honda Performance Development (HPD)’s core principles is to support drivers in their efforts to achieve their racing dreams through cultivating the next generation of racing talent.


The HPD Driver Academy, formerly known as the HPD GT3 Driver Academy, has announced plans for its 2022 program, which will now include an option for extensive track time in the Honda Civic Type R TCR in addition to the program’s existing Acura NSX GT3 Evo.


Operated by Racers Edge Motorsports under the guidance and support of HPD, the program will include access to experienced drivers, HPD engineering and trackside support staff, and SRO and IMSA Championship engineers and team owners. Academy drivers will receive individualized mentoring and coaching from top racing talent including Acura IMSA prototype champion Ricky Taylor and touring car champion Ryan Eversley.


As part of the program, drivers will be invited to American Honda for introduction to key executive members of Honda’s North American operations, visit the Honda Museum in Torrance, California, and receive a tour of the Honda Performance Development facility in Santa Clarita, California. Drivers will also receive Acura Motorsports and Honda gear including a personalized driving suit.


As factory development drivers, academy members will be given the opportunity to be promoted by HPD and Acura Motorsports and attend key promotional events, including paddock access to the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.


“As HPD looks ahead to the evolution of motorsports, we’re continually growing and adapting the academy to equip graduates with the skills and support for a successful racing career’” said John Whiteman, HPD Commercial Motorsports Manager. “This includes incorporating sustainable technology into our academy program that we look forward to announcing in the near future. Our challenging spirit defines program success by both the opportunities available to our graduates, and our readiness to compete – and win -- at the highest levels of motorsports, both present and future.”


The HPD Driver Academy has produced an impressive lineup of all-star talent including:


  • Jacob Abel: A multiple-podium open wheel racer, with F4 U.S. Championship and FR Americas Series experience


  • Dakota Dickerson: The 2018 F4 U.S. Champion, 2019 F3 Americas Champion, IMSA Prototype challenge winner, and 2015 Team U.S.A. Scholarship winner


  • Karl Wittmer: Canadian Touring Car Champion, IMSA competitor, and team lead of the 2021 HPD JAS Esports Team competing in the SRO GT World Challenge


  • Taylor Hagler: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Champion, GT World Challenge America winner and multi-podium holder


The 2021 class is currently underway with current students Ashton Harrison, Cat Lauren, Kyffin Simpson and Nicky Hays.


On track performance will include training covering the following topics:

  • Managing tires and fuel
  • Race craft and multiclass racing
  • Achieving race strategy targets
  • Driving for the conditions
  • Efficient pit stop execution for the driver
  • Learning how to practice with efficiency
  • Clear communication between team, driver, and spotter
  • Qualifying laps vs. race pace
  • Understanding the difference between starting and finishing driver roles
  • Optimizing set up for more than one driver and getting the most out of a compromised set up.


Off track performance will include training covering the following topics:

  • Engineer and team communication – how to develop a common language with race engineers and the team.
  • Expectations of top drivers and teams.
  • Data analysis – utilizing data to understand vehicle behavior and contribution to lap time, identifying and reacting to the earliest signs of vehicle trouble and learning how to communicate nuanced vehicle feel into set up changes.
  • Working with teammate(s) – developing a common language, complimentary within team competition and creating best set up to match multiple drivers.
  • Off track training program – learning the most effective physical fitness, mental focus and dietary best habits to optimize on track performance
  • Social/digital media – learn strategies that increase (the right) followers and engagement
  • Sponsorship acquisition – how to prospect, secure and retain sponsors that offer more than transactional support.
  • Physical/mental preparedness – preparing for consistent highest level performance
  • The role of the driver manager –deciding whether to work with a driver manager and what are some of the key criteria that set managers apart.
  • The HPD GT3 Driver Academy is currently accepting applications for admission to its 2022 program.


Program Costs:

NSX GT3 Evo Program: $145,000/driver

TCR Program: $95,000/driver

Deposit required upon application acceptance.

Includes: Test days support, track rental, tires, fuel, vehicle mileage, insurance, meals at the track and drivers suit

Not included:  Travel cost, lodging, parts damage up to deductible


Crash damage insurance:

Terms of coverage - $30,000 deductible/$150,000 maximum (per incident). Driver is responsible for costs below deductible and above maximum coverage.


If you are interested in applying for the academy please contact:

Lee Niffenegger, Program Manager, Honda Performance Development

Email: LNiffenegger@hra.com