DETROIT -- Eager to portray itself more convincingly as an American institution, Honda Motor Co.'s U.S. subsidiary said yesterday that it would begin building engines for race cars in the Indianapolis 500 and associated races, starting in 1994.
Honda executives said they expected the racing program to help in the marketing of Honda and Acura cars and to provide racing experience for the company's American engineers and technicians.
Honda especially wants to improve its sales in the nation's heartland, where the sentiment for buying U.S. products runs high, said Thomas G. Elliott, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co.
Honda's announcement came a day after it suffered a sales setback in the United States, as its Accord yielded first place in U.S. sales to the Ford Taurus, after having led for three years running.
In the beginning, the racing program will consist of supplying engines to a single race team.