• Acura introduced the ARX-06, which is powered by a twin-turbo 2.4-liter V-6 that produces 630 to 670 hp.
  • It is mated to a hybrid powertrain mounted in a transmission box.
  • The development of the ARX-06 was a collaboration between chassis supplier ORECA, Honda Performance Development and Acura Design Studio.

    In today’s racing, brand identity is usually an afterthought. Form usually follows function, leaving little room for creativity. But IMSA’s new GTP class is designed to encourage just that, with guidelines that entries “will contain important design cues and styling to closely match each manufacturer’s road-going products”. And while it’s been decades since race cars even remotely resembled their street counterparts, Acura’s design team was tasked with bringing some family resemblance to the exterior of the new ARX-06 prototype.

    The ARX-06 is Acura’s entry into the nascent GTP class. The all-new 90-degree twin-turbo 2.4-liter V6 was developed by Honda Performance Development (HPD). Capable of hitting 10,000 rpm, this tiny screamer is mated to an IMSA-specified hybrid system and drives the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential transmission.

    Acura’s longtime partner ORECA laid the groundwork. The carbon fiber monocoque chassis, which features a 123.9-inch wheelbase, is suspended by a variable-length control arm suspension with Penske shocks on both axles. While chassis modification is prohibited, manufacturers can personalize the exterior to a much greater extent.


    Acura’s executive creative director, Dave Marek, relished the challenge. “I told my team, ‘Let’s just make the thing cool and make it look like a show car,'” he joked. From his previous experience with the ARX-05 design process, Marek knew that even simple ideas can be difficult to implement. β€œAt the time, IMSA wanted to do [race cars] more like cars. So we started doing it and they said, But you can’t change either. At the end of the day, I want it to look like our car, but I also want to win. So let’s make the best car we can.” In retrospect, Marek and his team arrived too late in the ARX-05 development process to make any significant changes.

    The ARX-06’s exterior styling, however, was designed from the ground up at the Los Angeles-based Acura Design Studio. Stylists from Acura’s automotive division created the first sketches that eventually led to the scale models. After the scale model was completed, the design team worked with HPD and ORECA to further refine the aerodynamic performance. Special projects leader Bill Yekes notes that achieving good looks was only half the design equation. “Aerodynamics moved quickly to the development side. Production cars are very aerodynamically efficient, but it kind of stops there. This thing has to have low drag, balanced high downforce.’

    Acura arx06


    Additional input from racing partners Meyer Schenck and Wayne Taylor helped fine-tune the details from a real-world perspective. Driver complaints about the lighting of the ARX-05 led Marek to redesign the front clusters on the ARX-06, improving both their appearance and intensity. The use of VR allowed drivers to “sit” in the cockpit and adjust their position behind the wheel.

    Those lights look familiar

    When viewed in full scale, the ARX-06 is a testament to the successful collaboration of all involved. Familiar Acura styling cues play a functional role in the car’s design, from the deliberately enlarged headlights to the taillight chicanes.

    However, Marek could not win every fight. “Restrictions still prevail in the rear.” After trying to tone down a particularly blocky section, he was busted by IMSA regulators. “It was illegal. I said: why what illegal? What the hell, man?” Limitations aside, Marek is still proud of what they’ve been able to achieve. “I’m not going to say that the other cars aren’t real yet, but for me the fact that it’s completely legal and still looks as good is a credit to the team.”

    The ARX-06 will make its racing debut starting with the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January 2023.

    While Acura has dominated IMSA endurance racing recently, it will face a host of new competitors in the GTP class. Long-time rival Cadillac is re-entering, along with newcomers Porsche and BMW. Still, Acura should be easy to spot in this newly crowded field. Just look for the headlights.

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