Chevy returning to IndyCar Series

The IndyCar Series changed its engine and chassis platforms to

create competition in the future.

The chassis race was settled earlier this year. The first jab in

the engine competition came Friday, when Chevrolet announced it is

rejoining IndyCar after five years away from the circuit.

In conjunction with Ilmor Engineering, General Motors will

produce a twin-turbocharged V-6 racing engine for Team Penske to

use in the 2012 season.

The move gives the series two engine manufacturers, after Honda,

the sole engine provider since 2006, announced earlier this year it

would produce a 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 for 2012.

”The one thing we’ve heard, from fans and everyone involved

with the Izod IndyCar Series, is we want competition,” IndyCar

Series CEO Randy Bernard said from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

”Today is a new day. IndyCar is excited about the opportunities

that lie ahead.”

Honda had been the sole provider of engines and Dallara the

chassis, but IndyCar’s new ICONIC committee voted earlier this year

to open both platforms up to competition.

The new engine platform, announced in June, called for the

ethanol-fueled engines to be up to six cylinders, allow for

turbocharging and produce between 550 and 700 horsepower, depending

on the type of course the series is racing. The current engines are

eight cylinders and produce about 650 horsepower.

In July, IndyCar announced Dallara will produce the new chassis

for 2012 after accepting designs from five manufacturers. It also

allowed for multiple manufacturers to develop aero kits for the new

chassis.

The changes were designed to cut costs while creating

competition among the teams and, hopefully, more interest from the

fans.

”It’s going to be special for the fans,” said three-time Indy

500 winner Helio Castroneves, one of several current and former

drivers on hand for the announcement. ”They’re going to see

competition and they’re going to cheer for whatever manufacturer

you’re looking for, and the teams are going to gain with that. It’s

a win-win situation that we are facing today.”

Chevy previously provided V-8 engines for the IndyCar circuit in

1986-93 and 2002-05, winning six driver championships and seven

Indianapolis 500 titles.

The American auto company bowed out of the series in 2006,

saying it couldn’t match the spending of foreign auto makers.

Now, Chevy is back, thanks to IndyCar’s new era of competition

and its own financial rebound from a near calamity; the company

reported earnings of $2 billion in the third quarter and is

expected to turn a profit next year for the first time since

2004.

Chevy also is looking into creating an aero package for the new

IndyCar chassis.

”There is one reason that drives us more than any others, our

competitors. We are returning to IndyCar to win,” said Chris

Perry, vice president of marketing for Chevrolet. ”This is a

natural fit for Chevrolet; this is where it all began for our

company and we are all proud to be back.”

Chevy’s return to IndyCar was helped along by Roger Penske,

owner of Team Penske and a partner with Ilmor.

Penske won 31 open-wheel races and four Indianapolis 500s in

Chevy cars and hopes the addition of one major American automaker

will spark interest from the other two.

”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.”