The Most Powerful Production Honda Sold in America: The 2023 Civic Type R INDYCAR Pace Car

The new INDYCAR season is days away, and the 2023 stage looks more promising than any other. On March 5, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES field will trace the new 2023 Honda Civic Type R pace car to the green flag. The 27-car-strong entry list for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Florida) season opening is the highest counting in over a decade.
2023 Honda Civic Type R INDYCAR SERIES Pace Car 18 photos
Photo: Honda
2023 Honda Civic Type R INDYCAR SERIES Pace Car2023 Honda Civic Type R INDYCAR SERIES Pace Car2023 Honda Civic Type R INDYCAR SERIES Pace Car2023 Honda Civic Type R INDYCAR SERIES Pace CarThe Indy 500 Borg Warner TrophyThe Indy 500 Borg Warner TrophyAn INDYCAR SERIES car's nose, post-raceScott Dixon during the 2022 Indy 500 raceThe 2022 Indy 500 raceScot Dixon during the 2022 Indy 500Scot Dixon during the 2022 Indy 5002023 Honda Civic Type R brakes and suspensions2023 Honda Civic Type R 315-hp two-liter turbocharged engine2023 Honda Civic Type R cockpit2023 Honda Civic Type R driver POV2023 Honda Civic Type R revised gear stick and shift gate2023 Honda Civic Type R six-speed manual gearshift lever knob
Self-proclaimed "the most competitive open-wheel racing series on the planet," INDYCAR requires a serious pace car to lead the pack. Honda didn't waste any time. In the sport where "best time wins" is the supreme argument, Honda introduced its first pace-setting model in 2006.

The most powerful Type R to date, the 2023 INDYCAR is simultaneously the most muscular Honda model ever sold on the U.S. market (accounting for production series only). After intense testing sessions and microscopically accurate adjustments (true to Japanese strictness and precision standards), the new thrill-inducing Civic achieved higher responsiveness, comfort, and overall driving excitement ratings.

The new vented hood, formed from lightweight aluminum, shelters a very performant version of Honda's award-winning K20C1 engine. The two-liter powerplant puts out 315 horsepower (319 PS) at 6,500 rpm and 310 lb-ft of torque (420 Nm, best served between 2,600-4,000 rpm).

2023 Honda Civic Type R 315\-hp two\-liter turbocharged engine
Photo: Honda
With that crankshaft GPA in store, the 2023 Civic Type R punches high in its class (two-liter, inline four cylinders, turbocharged induction): 157.8 hp/liter (159.98 PS/liter), up from the previous generation's 153.3 hp (155.42 PS).

The redesigned turbo spools a maximum of 25.2 psi of boost to up the horsepower, torque, and throttle response ratings. The air intake has been revised for better flow, and the exhaust brags with a straight-through design and an active valve.

Honda claims the turbocharger's efficiency is due to several revisions in the size, shape, and number of turbine blades. These mechanical augmentative measures allow the forced-induction generator to build pressure "in a wider range and more efficiently."

2023 Honda Civic Type R cockpit
Photo: Honda
In good old-fashioned motorhead heritage, a six-speed manual controls and distributes the engine output to the front wheels. Honda engineers installed a high-rigidity lever into an upgraded shift gate to optimize gear changes (which also benefit from improving the rev-matching technology).

A stiffer chassis (with a longer wheelbase and wider front and rear tracks) tandems with a retuned dual-axis strut front and multilink rear suspension for increased stability and handling.

Critically, for complete driver control, the Civic Type R Pace Car is fitted with a Honda Performance Development (HPD) brake package. In plain gearhead English, this is "competition rotors, racing pads, stainless steel brake lines." Four-point racing harnesses have been added to keep whoever's behind the wheel in their place (that would be behind the wheel).

The ruffian Civic Type R packs an exclusive pace car lighting system to tame the single-seat missiles. Honda graphics (refer to the gallery for details) puts the artist's touch on transforming the 2023 Honda Civic Type R into a race-starter NTT INDYCAR SERIES Pace Car.

2023 Honda Civic Type R INDYCAR SERIES Pace Car
Photo: Honda
However, Honda isn't just a flashy, colorful appearance in the 2023 INDYCAR SERIES season. The Sunday inaugural race raises the curtain on a season with the right tools to provide an action-packed show. The Japanese company is putting the sustainability stamp on the competition by developing the V6 hybrid 2.2-liter turbo engines for the 2024 race cars.

100% renewable race fuel will power the 2023 speed-chasing events. Mandatory use of alternate race tires with a green sidewall will expand to all street circuit races. Besides the technicalities, INDYCAR SERIES fans look forward to seeing more records fall than last year.

Two-time champion Will Power aims to improve his all-time-best pole position record of 68. Scott Dixon wants his name on a seventh Astor Challenge Cup to tie legend A.J. Foyt in the sport's hall of fame. Helio Castroneves is on track (pun absolutely intended) for a fifth Indy 500 victory.

Scott Dixon during the 2022 Indy 500 race
The emblematic race offered a few historic feats in the 2022 season – and hopes are high to see them challenged this year: fastest pole speed in history – 234.046 mph/376.661 kph, Scott Dixon), fastest front row in history (average of 233.643 mph/376.012 kph), and fastest starting field in history (231.023 mph/371.795 kph average speed).

For the sake of impossibly fast statistics, let's drop one final record that fans would love to see (live and in slow-motion) broken in 2023: the 2022 finish at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. Scott Dixon edged Scott McLaughlin by .1067 of a second – the smallest 1-2 gap on a street circuit race in INDYCAR SERIES history.
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About the author: Razvan Calin
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After nearly two decades in news television, Răzvan turned to a different medium. He’s been a field journalist, a TV producer, and a seafarer but found that he feels right at home among petrolheads.
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