Chevy Returning to IndyCar
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
General Motors is about return to major open wheel racing as it was confirmed Friday that Chevrolet, through partner Ilmor Engineering, will begin supplying engines to the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012.
The new engines will be built by Ilmor. They will be used by the teams of Roger Penske, who is a part owner of Ilmor.
Team Penske won’t be a factory team, however. Under new engine and chassis rules being drawn up for the series, all engines, regardless of manufacturer, will be randomly distributed to the customers.
Penske and GM officials said during a teleconference Friday morning that the hope is other teams will want to use the engines at some point.
The new engines will be 2.4 (or less) liter V-6s with twin turbochargers. They will use E85 fuel.
GM left the series in 2005, saying that it could not keep up with the spending habits being established by foreign engine makers. Honda has been the sole engine supplier to IndyCar since then.
The Honda engines, which were aided in their development by Ilmor, have had a remarkable record for reliability.
Chevrolet’s Chris Perry said during a teleconference on Friday that his company is returning because the IndyCar Series opens up a new fan base which possesses a desirable demographic, the series is growing in interest and popularity and to help promote technology research and development.
Those are “sound and important” reasons to get back in, Perry said.
And, he said, “We are returning to win.”
GM officials said they would also begin working on an aero package for the Dallara platforms which will be introduced in 2012.
Penske said the hope is that more automakers will be drawn into the IndyCar Series as a result of the move by Chevy.
“Chevrolet looked at this and their strategy with their brand going forward and felt that it would be time to go so hopefully this will bring other Big Three manufacturers in,” Penske said. “Also, to me, we need to see that this be a worldwide series with competition from the rest of the world so this is the first step.
“Typically, when somebody makes that first step, people are going to open their eyes and say this is a real opportunity for us and we don’t want to miss the chance to compete at the Indy 500.”
“The way we’re going to structure the league in the future, I think we’ll see some more people in.”
Helio Castroneves, who won the 2002 Indianapolis 500 in a car powered by a Chevrolet engine, said the news from GM is exciting for competitors.
“Turbochargers are back, baby,” Castroneves said. “It’s all about fun and for sure its going to be enjoyable again and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Not only that, as a fan…you’re going to see competition, you’re going to cheer for whatever manufacturer you been looking for and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a win/win situation. The IZOD IndyCar Series, it’s coming back.”
John Barnes, co-owner of Panther Racing, won series championships with Chevy engines in his cars and Sam Hornish Jr. driving them.
“Firstly,” Barnes said, “I think this is a very special day for the IZOD IndyCar Series and obviously we’re very happy that our old friends from Chevrolet and General Motors will be returning to open-wheel racing and the Indianapolis 500 beginning in 2012. GM is a major part of Panther Racing’s history and they were instrumental in helping us achieve our two IndyCar championships and all 15 of our IndyCar race victories. Those of us involved in this series have been saying for over a year now that there is a lot of positive momentum in the IZOD IndyCar Series and Chevrolet’s announcement today only reinforces the strength and direction of our sport.”
Mike Hull, managing director of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, called the re-entry of GM into the series, “A big step in the right direction. It’s monumental.”
– Jim Pedley can be reached at email@example.comOne Comment