Acura revs up its motor sports efforts with new purpose-built ARX-05 race car

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Why it matters to you

Acura is upping its commitment to racing with a new purpose-built race car, the ARX-05, which is good news for racing fans.

It may not have the long history of Ferrari or Porsche, but Acura is clearly committed to racing. The Honda luxury brand has been racing for more than 25 years, currently fields its NSX hybrid supercar in two different series, and is a regular at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. And next year, Acura will shift into an even higher gear.

Instead of only racing souped-up versions of production models, Acura will rejoin the ranks of purpose-built race cars, known as prototypes. Acura’s new prototype racer will be unveiled at “The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering,” which will be held during the sprawling Monterey Car Week later this month, and will make its racing debut in January at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Called the ARX-05 (Acura Racing Experimental, generation 5), the car was built for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship‘s Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class. The class currently features race cars from Cadillac, Mazda, and Nissan, with powertrains and styling unique to their respective manufacturers. That gives each car more of an identity, while still keeping the playing field relatively level.

Acura will follow the same template with the ARX-05. It will still look like a race car, but may pick up some styling cues from Acura production models. It was actually designed in the same California studio that helps shape those production models. The engine will be based on the 3.5-liter V6 used in the Acura TLX sedan and MDX SUV.

Acura may be building the cars, but Team Penske will actually race them. That’s the racing empire of the legendary Roger Penske, who has more Indianapolis 500 wins as a team owner than anyone else. Still, the partnership is a bit peculiar because Acura and Penske used to be rivals. The last time Acura raced prototypes, Penske and its Porsche RS Spyders were the main competition.

The Acura ARX-05 makes its public debut in California on August 18. The car has already been through some shake-down runs at the Paul Ricard track in France, but it won’t turn a wheel in anger until the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the legendary Floridian 24-hour race, in January.