Record-Setting Acura TLX GT Coming to Amelia Island

  • Record-setting Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Acura TLX GT coming to 2024 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance
  • All-Wheel-Drive RealTime Racing Acura is a three-time winner at Pikes Peak
  • Driver Peter Cunningham piloted the Acura TLX GT to Open Class course records in 2017-18-19

An Acura with a unique racing history will be featured at this year's Amelia Island Concours, as RealTime Racing brings its three-time winning Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Acura TLX GT to the Amelia as part of the featured "Cars of Pikes Peak" display at this year's world-renowned Concours d'Elegance.   

Originally built by RealTime for SRO World Challenge competition, the same chassis – with few changes – was re-purposed to take part in the annual "Race to the Clouds" where it was a record-setting class winner for three consecutive years from 2017-19 with team owner/driver Peter Cunningham.

"Out of all our years of racing partnership and success with Acura and Honda, Pikes Peak stands out as something very special," Cunningham recalls. "The demands of the course, and what it requires of the car, team and driver, are unlike anything we've encountered in the sport. So that makes what we achieved with this program something that remains a highlight of my career."

Prior to his debut on America's Mountain, the versatile Cunningham claimed 14 professional drivers' championships in his storied career, in everything from ice racing, performance rallying and road racing.

The first of three Acura TLX GTs built for SRO World Challenge competition from 2014-16, its original, four-wheel-drive configuration was outlawed by the series following the 2015 season, so chassis #001 was pushed into a corner of the shop and collected dust until early in 2017 when Acura gave a green light to the Pikes Peak effort.

"We put it back together, changed the gearing for a lower top speed and ran on Hoosier Tires. With guidance from Honda Performance Development (now Honda Racing Corporation USA), we added a bigger front splitter and took the existing GT3 rear wing and moved it up and back a bit to improve its efficiency," Cunningham said. "In our first trip to the mountain in 2017, we finished second overall and set a new course record for Open Class cars." The accomplishment also saw Cunningham named PPIHC "Rookie of the Year".

Switching to Pirelli tires, Cunningham successfully defended the Open Class title for the next two years, resetting class records for the 12.42-mile course each year. His 2019 run would stand as the class record for the next four years.

Starting with Acura's base TLX chassis, the X-Trac four-wheel-drive racing GT version was designed and built at RealTime, with HPD (HRC US) providing the production-based "J35" 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine, a design that has also seen service in a variety of racing series from IMSA to the Baja 1000. The same engine was utilized for all three years at Pikes Peak and was never removed from the chassis.

The original bodywork was developed at HRC US using a combination of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and wind tunnel development. TotalSimUS also assisted with the car's final Pikes Peak aero package, including the addition of fender louvers, larger dive planes and a rear diffuser developed from the Acura NSX GT3.

"We also configured a three-gallon water tank on board to spray the intercoolers and radiator," Cunningham noted. "Even with the cold ambient temperatures overheating was an issue, particularly in the "W's" section, which features short straightaways and big elevation changes. You only get one attempt each year so reliability is paramount, and the Acura never let us down."

Founded in 1996, The Amelia is an award-winning motoring event held the first full weekend of March at The Golf Club of Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, near Jacksonville, Florida. This year's event runs from Thursday, February 29 through Sunday, March 3.

About Acura Motorsports
Acura's North American motorsports programs have been integral to the brand since the launch of the brand in 1986. The rich legacy of Acura sports car racing includes the 1991, 1992, and 1993 IMSA Camel Lights manufacturer/driver championships, and the 2009 American Le Mans manufacturer, driver, and team championships in both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes. With the ARX-05 prototype, Acura swept the 2019, 2020 and 2022 IMSA manufacturer, driver and teams championships; plus the Michelin Endurance Cup titles in 2021 and 2022. In 2023, Acura made its successful racing debut for the electrified ARX-06 prototype sports car in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and claimed Acura's third consecutive Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona victory at the Daytona International Speedway. The Acura NSX GT3 Evo22, has won multiple championships, including IMSA GT championships in 2019 and 2020 and SRO World Challenge series titles in 2019, 2020 and 2022.

About RealTime Racing
RealTime Racing is an American professional motorsports team founded in 1987 by Peter Cunningham and headquartered in Saukville, just north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On gravel roads, frozen lakes, permanent road courses, or temporary street circuits, RealTime drivers have piloted Acura and Honda production-based automobiles to 18 professional titles in a variety of motorsports series; with Cunningham named to the Sports Car Club of America Hall of Fame in 2018.

About Honda Racing Corporation USA
(formerly Honda Performance Development)
Honda Racing Corporation USA (HRC US), has a rich heritage creating, manufacturing, and supporting Honda Racing and Acura Motorsports customers since its founding in 1993 as Honda Performance Development. From pinnacle racing in INDYCAR and IMSA Sports Cars to commercial racing programs, HRC US powers the dreams of professional and amateur racers from age 4 to 40+. HRC US is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and leads all of Honda and Acura's high-performance racing programs in North America.

HRC US specializes in the design and development of powertrain, chassis, electronics, and performance parts, as well as technical and race support. The company also offers parts and race support to Honda and Acura amateur and professional motorsports racers; and is continually expanding its palette of racing programs that make Honda racing products available to all racing styles, from karting and Quarter Midgets to the highest levels of professional racing. The HRC US title replaced Honda Performance Development on January 1, 2024, to reflect the new role of the company in Honda's global racing efforts.

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