James Nazarian Jr. has an enviable job perk in his role as Large Project Leader Commercial Motorsports for Honda Performance Development (HPD, now Honda Racing Corporation HRC) in that he gets to drive a beast of a Honda CR-V – the CR-V Hybrid Racer to be exact! This conglomeration of part Indy car and part NSX GT3 IMSA GTD car was conceived and designed in Santa Clarita and is a super cool engineering marvel. From the hybrid powertrain, to the suspension, to the advanced aerodynamics, this vehicle (that includes some stock CR-V parts) is ready to blow your mind at a race track near you. We met up with Nazarian at the 2023 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach media day. In this interview, he takes us on a walkaround of the “Beast” and points out some of the unique features. Besides that, he also tells us what it’s like to drive. There are lots of pictures to go with his words, so feel free to scroll through each one as we get our personal tour. Enjoy!

NOTE: The 2024 NTT IndyCar Series was supposed to start their season with hybrid powertrains, however that has been delayed until after the Indy 500. The Beast gives you a preview of what it will be like. For additional information and to see this vehicle on track, please vist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kpMARRd-Ac to see Honda’s development story.

By Larry Mason
Copyright © 2024 Larry Mason

James Nazarian Jr. is the project manager on the “Beast” as well as the driver!

Standing in front of Honda’s engineering marvel, Nazarian graciously gave us a personal walkaround of the Beast – technically the CR-V Hybrid Racer.

Looking at the front end of this hot rod, you can see the radiators in the middle, as well as the other air intakes and large front splitter.

As Nazarian and a crew member begin to remove the hood, you can see the specialty hold-down latches and huge radiator air extraction scoop.

With the hood removed, here’s an overall picture of the front suspension, steering, tube frame, and cooling system.

In this close-up of the left-front suspension and steering rack, you can see that the suspension is directly off of the Acura NSX GT3 race car.

In this close-up of the right-front suspension, you can see the power-assist module on the steering rack in addition to a linear sensor that gathers suspension movement data.

On the side, you can see the advanced and un-restrained aerodynamic features to help direct airflow. The huge NACA duct in the front door feeds air to the engine compartment while the rear ducting funnels air to the brakes and gearbox.

The engine compartment in the rear features a twin-turbo Honda V6 Indy car engine with a super capacitor unit sitting on top of the gearbox. Indy car rear suspension and an electric motor in back complete the go-fast portion.

This photo gives you a better view of the electric motor mated to the back of the gearbox. High-voltage wires in orange extend off of the rear of the super capacitor box while carbon fiber is the material of choice for the rear diffuser on the bottom.

You say you want downforce? You got it! Huge rear diffuser and wing accent the styling in the rear.

Exhaust outlets sit just in front of the left rear tire. Notice the massive fender flares to house the wide tires as well as the gold heat shielding within the fender well.

An NTT IndyCar Series race car steering wheel handles just some of the electronic features. Some of the functionality is built into the exclusive software for the hybrid system.

Sitting side-by-side with its road going variant, the “Beast” ups the aggression level off the charts.

The outrageous aerodynamics of the “Beast” help it gain tremendous downforce compared to the showroom version of the CR-V parked next to it, but the street version gets better fuel economy from less drag!

Interview and photos Copyright © by Larry Mason