Watch This Honda Odyssey Minivan Rip Past a Miata on Track
This kid hauler hauls ass.
You'd typically expect to see the minivans in parking lots, doing minivan things. Certainly not on a race track, and certainly not passing cars half its size, but the dedicated racers from HART Alabama do things a little differently. On Sunday, their race-ready Honda Odyssey flew around Gingerman Raceway, passing cars left and right.
Competing in the Gridlife Touring Cup, it's obvious from a mile away that this is no normal minivan. In this video shared by the team, we see the tuned Odyssey stretch its legs running down Miatas, with V6 power helping to overcome its four-cylinder rival. Nor is the Odyssey short on grip, with sticky tires allowing it to hang on around the outside of the corner and complete the pass. Once back on the straightaway, the Honda is able to maintain position and walk away with the place.
It's a great feat, but a strange one at that. After all, when it comes to picking out a track day car, most will first look to sportscars as a primary option. A Nissan 350Z or Honda S2000 makes an excellent base, for example, with performance-tuned suspension and some grunt from the engine under the hood. In contrast, few would go to a commuter-spec minivan, designed primarily for carrying many humans in comfort to Walmart and back.
However, the HART Alabama crew has its reasons. Formerly known as the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama team, the amateur team was formed by workers at Honda's Alabama assembly plant. The team has a long history dating back as far as 2006, with members working on race cars after hours and Honda itself chipping in with support, often in parts and in kind.
It's no surprise then that the team races a fifth-generation 2018 Honda Odyssey. It's been upgraded with the facelift front and rear fascias from the later 2021 model, and given a mean front splitter to aid handling. The ride is low on Megan Racing coilovers, while the interior has been stripped, caged and race prepped for safety out on track.
The team has raced heavily-tuned motors before, but in this case the engine is largely stock, barring an RV6 J-pipe exhaust upgrade for better breathing. It runs the standard 10-speed automatic gearbox, too. The Odyssey has received better brakes though, and a set of Enkei Raijin 19-inch wheels wrapped in sticky race rubber do a lot to cut down lap times and keep the Honda stuck on the track.
When it's not racing Miatas and coming out ahead, the Odyssey serves in other roles too. The car has done charity work with Racing For Children's, and even served as a safety car for a Radical Race at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
It's nice to see Honda supporting grassroots motorsport, and even more when it involves giant minivans hurtling around the track. It reminds us of the glorious Volvo 850 racing wagons of the '90s. We'd love to see other manufacturers get involved; it might just be time to establish a nationwide minivan touring car series. Any teams looking for an enthusiastic, if inexperienced, driver need only contact the author.
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