A letter from Soichiro

On March 20, 1954, Soichiro Honda addressed this letter to all employees of his motor company. In it, he announces his intention, for the first time, to go racing. It’s a moment in time. It’s history being made. It’s the world changing. Totally and forever. It’s also a call to action, asking his company to be inspired by his actions into elevating Japanese industry to new levels.

It reads:

Some five years have passed since the founding of our Honda Motor Co., and I never cease to rejoice that the efforts of all our employees have taken form in the achievement of our epoch-making advances.

Since I was a small child, one of my dreams has been to compete in motor vehicle races all over the World with a vehicle of my own making, and to win. However, before I can become victor over the whole world, I must first, of course, assure the security of the business, obtain precision machinery and equipment, and create superior designs. I have, therefore, been devoting myself entirely to these points, and working to present superior practical vehicles to our customers in this country. Consequently, I have not had any free time for turning my energy to motorcycle racing until today.

Now, however, reports on the recent international motorcycle race held in Sao Paulo have provided me with detailed information on the situation in the countries of Europe and America. I had thought that I was seeing the world with a fair degree of realism, without being caught up in fixed ideas, but now I realize that, after all, I have been blinded by my excessive feeling for Japan in its present situation. Even now, the world is advancing at tremendous speed. Conversely, however, as I have always felt, I am filled with an abundant, unshakable confidence that I can win. The fighting spirit that is my nature will no longer allow me to continue turning away.

Soichiro, 4th from left, at a race in Japan the year after this letter was written.

Now that we are equipped with a production system in which I have absolute confidence, the time of opportunity has arrived. I have reached the firm decision to enter the TT races next year.

Never before has a Japanese entered this race with a motorcycle made in Japan. It goes without saying that the winner of this race will be known across the globe, but the same is also true for any vehicle that completes the entire race safely. It is said, therefore, that the fame of such an achievement will assure a certain volume of exports, and that is why every major manufacturer in Germany, England, Italy, and France is concentrating on preparations with all its might.

I will fabricate a 250cc (medium class) racer for this race, and as the representative of our Honda Motor Co., I will send it out into the spotlight of the world. I am confidend that this vehicle can reach speeds exceeding 180km/h. When this engine is completed on the basis of our company’s creativity, it will be no exaggeration whatsoever to say that it will rank at the world’s highest levels of engineering. Since the motorcycle, a shining star of modern heavy industry, is a comprehensive business, it will require the highest engineering level not only of the engine, but also of tires, chains, carburetors and other parts. To achieve this, it must be supported by meticulous attention to detail and unremitting effort.

I address all employees!

Let us bring together the full strength of Honda Motor Co. to win through to this glorious achievement. The future of Honda Motor Co. depends on this, and the burden rests on your shoulders. I want you to turn your surging enthusiasm to this task, endure every trial, and press through with all the minute demands of work and research, making this your own chosen path. The advances made by Honda Motor Co. are the growth you achieve as human beings, and your growth is what assures our Honda Motor Co. its future.

The scrupulous care that is required when tightening a single screw, and the commitment that refuses to waste a single sheet of paper: these are what will open the way before you, and prepare our route for Honda Motor Co. Fortunately, our outside contractors, our agents, and our banks have given us their generous cooperation. I’m, moreover, blessed with customers who join us as well to help concentrate our entire power on this point.

Honda eventually entered the TT with this RC145 in 1959, placing 6th, 7th, 8th and 11th, taking manufacturer's victory in the lightweight class.

I see that Germany, though like us defeated in the war, has industries that are reviving, and feel more than ever that our Motor Co. must, above all, enter this race and complete it.

We must gauge the true worth of the Japanese machine industry to raise it to a point where we can display it proudly to the entire world. The mission of Honda Motor Co. is to enlighten Japanese industry.

With this, I announce my determination, and pledge you that I put my entire heart and soul, and turn all my creativity and skill to the task of entering TT Races and winning them.

This I affirm.

Soichiro Honda
President, Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

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