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DATE News (chronologically)
Alfa Romeo eyes IndyCar (9th Update)
1986 Ferrari 637 IndyCar
1986 Ferrari 637 IndyCar

UPDATE CORRECTION: The Alfa Indy Car was not based on the Ferrari 637. It was a March chassis based on the ’89 Porsche March. Patrick Racing provided an Ilmor for Alfa to copy. Obviously they did not get it right.

01/21/18 Is Ferrari playing IndyCar like a fiddle? Most likely. Why would they bring their Alfa Romeo engines to IndyCar with the minuscule TV ratings IndyCar gets on NBCSN? Because Ferrari played IndyCar like a fiddle under very similar conditions 30 years ago. Let’s look back at when Ferrari almost entered IndyCar and you’ll understand why Marchionne’s recent comments about Alfa Romeo coming to IndyCar are nothing new.

Fast rewind to the 1980s. Ferrari are unhappy with pending engine regulations of 1989 limiting engines to a V8 configuration and decides to look into entering IndyCar (CART). By 1985, Ferrari have a base to work with after Bobby Rahal tests a March 85C at Fiorano, Ferrari’s test track.

By 1986, Ferrari have built their IndyCar challenger, the 637. The Italian outfit have Goodyear and Truesports signed on to provide tires and as a team entry, respectively. After a shakedown at Fiorano, Ferrari and Bernie Ecclestone meet and come to an agreement on engine regulations. The 637 never races in IndyCar.

The car and its designs are given to Alfa Romeo, and Alfa develop their IndyCar program based on the 637 and enter in 1989. They pull out after the 1991 season after never achieving higher than 4th place in three seasons.

With Ferrari threatening to withdraw from F1 in 2020 due to the 2021 engine regulations, this is Marchionne doing just what Enzo Ferrari did 32 years ago - playing IndyCar like a fiddle to make F1 bend to Ferrari’s demands.

The last Alfa Romeo IndyCar

01/20/18 A reader asks, Dear AR1.com, what do you think the real chances of Alfa Romeo making a return to IndyCar are? Delores Fink, Houston

Dear Delores, With the current TV package IndyCar has - zero, zilch nada, primarily because of the cable TV portion. Alfa Romeo sells cars globally and the NBCSN ratings would bring them very little exposure. IndyCar needs 100% of its races on network TV, or they will remain small, largely invisible, and hence unattractive to big sponsors and manufacturers. It all hinges on the new TV deal Mark Miles is working on. Is he thinking big, or small? Mark C.


With Alfa Romeo back selling Cars in the USA it makes perfect sense

01/18/18 (GMM)  Sergio Marchionne has repeated his hint that a deal between Haas F1 and Maserati could be on the cards, and says he is eyeing IndyCar for Alfa-Romeo.

Last month, the Ferrari president sealed the deal on a title sponsorship between Fiat Chrysler brand Alfa Romeo and Sauber.

Now, Marchionne has his eyes on a similar tie-up, with talks between the Ferrari 'B team' Haas and Maserati said to be taking place.

Italian reporters asked him at the Detroit auto show if he is thinking about sending Maserati into Formula E.

"I'm not so sure.  In terms of a possible cooperation, it is maybe better to try to organize a joint project with Haas in formula one," Marchionne answered.

"It would be a good project."

He also said the next step for Alfa Romeo could be a move into IndyCar, in partnership with Dallara.

"We do not have much experience in American racing, but we are thinking about Indycar.  Why not?" he said.

"Giampaolo Dallara is an excellent specialist and the best Italian engineer in the motor sport industry," Marchionne added (behind Aldo Costa).

01/17/13 The actually last Alfa Romeo IndyCar (Champ Car) was this 1991 Miller Genuine Life Alfa Romeo driven by Danny Sullivan.  John Capels ran the Alfa the first time in 1989 with Roberto Guerrero driving with the Morales team.

In 1990, Pat Patrick sold his Chevy team to Ganassi and Pat, Jim McGee and Morris Nunn were partners in the new Alfa program with MGD sponsorship.

Guerrero drove the 20 car all year with Al Unser Sr. in the 40 car at Indy.  It was a March chassis in the early part of 1990 season before they switched to Lola.

In 1991, Sullivan took over the drive in the final year of the Alfa Romeo.  He was running in the lead at the first Surfers race before the brakes overheated and Danny ran up front at Phoenix the next race.  At Indy, Danny qualified ninth but the car had to start from pit road and started a lap down.  Danny drove it to 10th before the engine let go on lap 190.

At the end of 1991, Pat tried to get a Chevy engine but Ilmor wouldn’t do it since the Alfa program.  So Pat sold the team’s assets to Bobby Rahal and Carl Hogan.  The Patrick crew stayed with Bobby and they scored the 1992 CART title.  Jim McGee left after that season for Newman Haas in 1993.  And Rahal moved the team to Columbus into the TrueSports shop in 1993.


The last Alfa Romeo IndyCar

Added photo of last Alfa Romeo IndyCar. Alfa Romeo had entered Indy car racing to great fanfare but lackluster results in 1989, was ready to overhaul its effort for 1990 and was looking for a factory team.  Patrick Racing seemed a perfect fit.

At some point after Patrick Racing and Alfa Romeo forged their alliance, one of the most controversial events in the modern history of Indy car racing went down.  Before he was required to return his Chevrolet engines to Ilmor (and some sources indicate this may even have happened after the date when the equipment should have been transferred to Chip Ganassi), Patrick shipped at least one of the engines to Italy to be broken down and examined by Alfa Romeo engineers in the hope that they could gain a better understanding of what their engine was lacking.  Obviously, this move was not well-received by Ilmor or the other manufacturers that were either already in Indy car or were looking to jump into the game.  Though the engineers at Alfa Romeo were still not able to produce a successful engine over the next two seasons, the die was cast and Indy car racing was in for a philosophical change that still resonates to this day.

01/16/13 More proof Alfa Romeo may join IndyCar - An Alfa Romeo prototype was recently spotted testing on a Michigan expressway last Friday. The video was shot by an astute Autoweek Magazine reader and although no more details have been released about the car, it’s still speculated that it could be launched as soon as the 2013 Geneva Motor Show this coming March featuring a 1.75-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumping out at least 200hp.

Consequently, the Toyota GT86, Scion FRS and Subaru BRZ may have a fight on their hands from the Italian’s.

10/16/12 Fiat has been looking at entering one of its brands in IndyCar for years now.  It has not happened yet, but now we think it might.  Why?  Because if you were wondering why the Italy race rumors surfaced out of nowhere, recall our simple analogy - when in doubt, follow the money.

Fiat has been talking about Alfa Romeo’s return to the U.S. for more a decade, but CEO Sergio Marchionne has finally made the decision: After nearly 20 years away, the brand will start selling cars in the USA again in 2014.  The return to the States is part of a large revamp of the brand that will see a number of new models introduced in the U.S., Europe, and around the world, and this Alfa renaissance will lean heavily on alliances with Fiat, Chrysler, and Mazda.  And what better way to advertise your sporty brand, but through racing.  And with Dodge dumping NASCAR, the money saved might just be funneled into IndyCar.

7/20/11 And speaking of engines, we hear Cosworth has had serious talks with Fiat, which could mean the engine would be badged a Fiat, Alfa Romeo, or perhaps a Dodge.

04/20/11 Rumors still persist that Fiat is considering an IndyCar engine for 2013.  Perhaps branded as Alfa Romeo, perhaps Dodge.  What perfect timing.  Fiat SpA is retaining its goal of re-introducing the Alfa Romeo brand to the United States at the end of 2012 but adjustments to the design of the Giulia midsize sedan could delay it by four months at most, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat and partner Chrysler Group LLC, told investors today.

"We are still on track to launch it and there shouldn't be much delay, if any," Marchionne said.

"Alfa will be back in the United States at the end of 2012," he said, but confirmed he does not like the design of the Giulia and wants it fixed before it goes on sale anywhere.

"If it is over at all, it will be by a quarter, four months," he said of a possible delay.

The Alfa Romeo brand pulled out of the U.S. market in 1995 and its return has been announced and postponed numerous times in recent years, most of them prior to Fiat's partnership with Chrysler Group LLC in June 2009.

But orders will be taken for the Alfa Romeo 4C two-seater super car in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2012, Marchionne said.

The car was shown as a concept at the Geneva auto show in March and is being prepared for production.

U.S. deliveries will begin in early 2013 while European customers could receive theirs in late 2012.

The Lancia brand has grown from a two-vehicle lineup at the end of 2010 to include two Chrysler cars.

The first addition was the Thema luxury sedan that is based on the new Chrysler 300.

Still to come are the Lancia Flavia sedan and convertible, based on the Chrysler 200.

A Flavia convertible will be available in the United States this year, Marchionne said.

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