Honda Proving Center Reopens as a Mojave Desert Playground
The hills are alive with the sound of VTEC once again.
After opting to close its vehicle testing facility in a dusty little corner of California's Mojave Desert and put the whole thing up for sale in 2010, Honda discovered Don Henley's warning is truer than ever these days—you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. With no buyer in sight, the company decided to bring the place out of mothballs. So now the Honda Proving Center is officially (re)open for business with a slick new trailer to show it off.
The newly-renovated HPC features a 7.5-mile banked oval for high-speed testing, a 4.5-mile road course with 28 curves and six hill sections, a full-on supercross track to test dirt bikes and side-by-sides, miles of rough-road and off-road trails, and a 1.3-million square foot "vehicle dynamics area." It's all spread across over 3,800 acres of desert scrubland, shielded from prying eyes with dirt berms and rows of non-native trees.
After using the facility to wring out some of their best models made since 1990—the S2000, for example—Honda decided to consolidate their North American operations in 2010 and move vehicle testing to Ohio. (No offense to Marysville and its replica Tsukuba Circuit, but in this author's opinion, it's not nearly as evocative as a vast expanse of barren desert with the southern reaches of the Sierra Nevada mountains looming in the distance.)
Even though the closure and potential sale initially generated a lot of interest, it turns out that offloading a $30 million testing facility is a little harder than finding a rich guy looking for a personal motorsports paradise—even if it's only a few hours from Los Angeles. After five years and no buyers, Honda announced in 2015 it would instead retain and upgrade the Proving Center. Two years and $25 million later, and it's ready to go.
Check out the trailer below to see what they've been up to. And Honda, if you're looking to recoup some of those construction costs, we've got three words for you: Open. Track. Day.