Until now, the mural you see here has been top secret, hanging 100 feet long inside Honda’s closed-to-the-public R&D facility in Raymond Ohio. It was uncovered by our friend David Folch who, after hearing rumors of it, spent months tracking it down. Honda’s communication department was unaware of its existence. R&D isn’t allowed to communicate with outsiders. But, he eventually found the artist, John Frye, who agreed to exclusively share it with HFL.
Artwork: John Frye
The fact that, until now, the mural has remained a secret is mind boggling. You’re looking at a stacked image, each of the three layers forms a continues line, 9 feet high and 100 feet long.
Frye is prevented from telling us the story behind this commission or revealing any other work he’s done for Honda, but conclusions can be drawn from its content. Starting with a 1924 Curtis that Soichiro Honda modified and races in his teens, it illustrates the company’s racing heritage in a beautiful, striking way. It paints a picture of determination, success, innovation and leadership that Honda, in its current form, would do well to remind itself of. Shinya Kimura famously said to us, “Honda has no pulse.” Do you think he’d say the same after staring in awe at the lifesize version of this image? Can you imagine such a powerful statement of history in your work place? It’s a reminder that Honda is capable of changing the world, again and again and agin. It must be intimidating thinking that you’re responsible for what might be the next frame in this lineage.
Left-to-right, top-to-bottom, here’s the vehicles you see above:
1924 8 Liter Curtis Special. Built by Mr. Honda in his teens, this car won races and achieved a land speed record at the 1936 All-Japan Speed Rally. Although the car was based on existing airplane engine and American Mitchell car chassis, the merging of these two elements meant that Mr. Honda had to develop and fabricate many of the components himself to make it operational.
1962 Honda 250cc RC163. After making it presence known for the first time at the prestigious Isle of Man TT, Honda quickly went on to win nearly 140 grands prix and 34 riders and constructor championships. Jim Redman rode to his first World Championship by winning nine out of nine races on the RC163.
Honda S800 Sports. 1968 12 Hours of Suzuka GT1 class winner, third place overall. This car redlined at 10,500 RPM.
1965 Honda RA272. Driven by Richie Ginther, the transverse V-12 won the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix leading from the first lap to the last and gave Honda its first Formula One Championship race victory.
Honda NS500. One of the most radically designed racing motorcycles of its time, Honda’s first two-stroke GP bike, was powered by compact and lightweight V-3. Freddie Spencer rode it to his first World Championship in 1983, becoming the youngest GP champion ever at age 21.
1990 McLaren-Honda MP4/5b. Three-times World Drivers Champion Ayrton Senna drove the V-10 powered McLaren to victory six times on his way to another World Championship. During this period, Honda powered cars won the Constructors Championship in six consecutive years.
Reynard-Honda CART. Alex Zanardi drove a Reynard-Honda to 15 wins. He won the CART Championship in 1997 and 1998. For years, Honda dominated the field, achieving nearly 70 wins between 1994 and 2002 and powered four manufacturers titles and six consecutive drivers titles. Honda’s move to IRL set the stage for their first Indianapolis 500 victory in 2004 and followed in that 2005 with a podium sweeping finish that saw seven of the top eight finishers with Honda power.
Exclusive to HFL, a 1,600px-wide, wallpaper-ready version is included below.