Honda Talon Factory Racing Looks To Find Their Footing In The Rocks
Racing ain’t easy, and it’s especially not easy when you are expected to perform at the highest level. Let me put what Honda Talon Factory Racing and Proctor Racing Group (PRG) are trying to do into perspective. Right now, put down whatever device you are reading this on and head to the underwater basket weaving championship. The largest and most respected event of its kind on the planet, sign yourself up, get in the water and try and weave your heart out without drowning. That’s essentially what this team is doing right now, and it’s no easy feat.
With the support of Honda, PRG has had success in off-road racing, but in the 7200 truck class. So when the driver development program in the new Honda Talon was announced, they were still in their comfort zone of the open desert. However since then, the decision has been made to debut the Honda Talon Factory Racing program to the world at arguably the toughest single day race on the planet, King of the Hammers. PRG now finds themselves in an underwater basket weaving contest. It’s still racing, so they have the confidence, but the rocks are a vastly different place than the high-speed, wide open desert.
We were invited out to Johnson Valley, CA by PRG Team Principal, Jeff Proctor, for an exclusive look at their new program leading up to KOH. Proctor knew this was a gutsy move, inviting an unbiased and honest media outlet to their first day in the dirt with new cars, new drivers; basically new everything. Lucky for them, we know what it’s like to be in their shoes and didn’t expect to see perfection. The Talon 1000Rs looked great upon our arrival. A pair of identical and stout yet fairly stock Honda Talons ready to race as they rolled off the trailer. They both have the typical racing and safety requirements you would expect, and some beefy Jsport SXS Long Travel suspension components ready to be abused by the rocks. Upon first start up, the whistle of the Jackson Racing turbo system rang out. This has been a hot topic for BITD and SCORE Racers, but at KOH, it’s run what ya brung.
On hand was Bryant Lambert and crew to capture the team on film, while Brian Binkert and Tony Lopez of Bink Designs were there to capture the team photos, and we were there to be the fly on the wall. With an effort this big, pre-race media is very important. The drivers were chomping at the bit to go test, but photo shoots were priority number one before the rocks would be allowed to do what they do to the pristine powder coat and fresh graphics. PRG held nothing back when it came to making sure his team looked good, and felt good.
PRG is very open about this being a driver development program, and the team is very focused on building up their new drivers to be experts at their craft. Eliott Watson and Christopher Polvoorde, two 19 year old college students with a decorated history in short course will be wheeling the two Talons at KOH and throughout the 2020 desert schedule. Neither having any rock racing or desert racing experience will make this a tough endeavor, but both have an incredible attitude and have shown through time that they are very capable behind the wheel. It became apparent throughout the day that they are very different drivers as well.
Elliot proved to be the more methodical and cautious driver, as they made their first attempts through the rocks in the new cars, while Christopher was more the hammer down and see what happens type. It will be interesting to see how their styles develop over the coming weeks of practice leading up to KOH, and who will put it all together to fight for the win, or even just make it to the finish in the race of attrition. Talking in depth with both kids, they are very humbled and honored to be chosen for this program and while listening to them talk to the crew, it’s clear they are very articulate in explaining what the car is doing, and how they would like to make changes to fit their individual driving styles. With proper guidance and mentorship from PRG, these young men will have a long successful career ahead of them.
Honda is all about riding red, but PRG is very green in the UTV world. With a strong and positive team dynamic and the support of American Honda, Jsport SXS, Jackson Racing, Fox, Baja Designs, KMC Wheels and many others, they will no doubt figure it out and be strong competitors for the rest of their 2020 schedule. With Honda’s factory-backed entry into the sport, we hope this will bring the other Japanese manufacturers to get serious, as well as force Can-Am and Polaris to step up their game.
Be sure to check out the full gallery of images below!