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DATE News (chronologically)
11/10/10
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Chevy to build 2012 IndyCar engine  UPDATE #8 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' as IndyCar has put out a media alert for this on Friday.

11/10/10 SPEEDTV.com can reveal that IndyCar is in the final stages of negotiations with General Motors about bringing Chevrolet back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar racing in 2012.  The official announcement could come as early as Friday in Indianapolis.

11/09/10 General Motors and its Chevrolet brand appear to be on their way to an open-wheel-racing return. The news first broke Nov. 7 on a Web site that cited unnamed high-level GM sources who claimed that Chevy will rejoin the Izod IndyCar Series beginning in 2012.

No official confirmation had come as of today, but several well-placed individuals within the racing community said that an announcement was scheduled for Nov. 12. Chevy last participated in IndyCar in 2005 through an association with Cosworth. There is no word at this early stage on whom the company might partner with to build engines this time around, but one source close to the situation did not balk when presented with the idea that longtime race-engine constructor Ilmor could be involved. And although Cosworth is devoting resources to Formula One these days, it is also rapidly expanding and diversifying its business model, making it a potential candidate as well.

Whoever builds the engines, IndyCar is due to have a new technical package for the 2012 season, with turbocharged engines limited to no more than 2.4 liters and six cylinders. However, other than those basic architectural specs, no rules have been finalized or published regarding engine distribution, allocation or control among teams. But series CEO Randy Bernard has met with nearly every auto manufacturer that might participate, including GM during the summer.

Bernard told AW he didn't know about GM's impending announcement but said he expects at least one manufacturer to compete with longtime series supplier Honda in 2012. “It's purely speculation right now,” he commented regarding the initial report. “We're still talking to a variety of engine manufacturers, and we've got a short time to [secure] them.”

Intriguingly, the report named Target Chip Ganassi Racing as Chevy's partner in the IndyCar deal, but team owner Chip Ganassi told AW he knew nothing of the connection. “The whole thing is news to me,” he said. “I literally know nothing. It doesn't have anything to do with our [NASCAR] deal.” AutoWeek

11/08/10 Speculation is that Chip Ganassi may be involved wit the Chevy engine program in a bigger way than one would have first thought.  Word that General Motors' Chevy brand might be going Indy-car again shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone: Richie Gilmore, one of Richard Childress' top engine men and head of the Earnhardt-Childress Racing engines operation, talked about that very thing in July at Daytona, when he discussed some conversations he was having with Indy-car tour executives.
 
We previously wrote that Randy Bernard's legacy will be whether he can land additional engine manufacturers and if the rumors are true, he's getting the job done.
The 2012 Indy-car season is the target now, according to GM reports. Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske currently dominate the Indy-car world, and they are also top NASCAR team owners.
 
And Gilmore says it's all about Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge and Toyota executives all looking at other passenger-car-related marketing targets besides the standard NASCAR-358 c.i. V-8 market.
 
Whether such a GM-Indy program would open doors for some NASCAR team owners to expand to IRL operations is an interesting question. At the moment this appears to be just an engine program.
 
Chevrolet of course is no stranger at Indy. Remember those V-6 Buicks and the Ilmor-Chevy?
 
However Honda has had Indy-car racing to itself the last several years, with Toyota having dropped out to join NASCAR.
   
"They're talking about it with turbo four-cylinders or a V-6," Gilmore said, of IRL men he's talked with. "We've talked with GM about that, and they definitely have some interest in that, as long as it's a production-based engine.
 
"We have definitely talked with the Indy Racing League about that. We (Chevrolet) have some interest in getting back in that series."
 
Gilmore also said Ford was interested in such a project too. "There is a lot of interest," Gilmore says. "Especially if we could get more races together."
 
Gilmore said part of the impetus not only for Chevrolet and Ford but for Dodge and Toyota too "is the goal of reaching out and hitting a different market, and not have such a V-8 target."
 
NASCAR's mainstay motors for decades have been V-8s, except for a few years with V-6s in the then-Busch series, and of course the four-cylinder Baby Grands.
 
"So I think it (Indy-car racing) would be a good market, especially for GM, because we've got the Vortec four-cylinder. The Malibu I drive has a Vortec four-cylinder and it's got a lot of power; when you step on the gas, it's hard to tell the difference between it and a V-8."
 
Gilmore pointed to an interesting twist to the proposed new Indy-car engines: "They want an engine they can target to between 550 horsepower and 750 horsepower, so they can make different powers for different types of race tracks, because of different downforce requirements. That might a little difficult, but they could do it with a turbo four-cylinder.
 
"We (GM) could build a turbo four-cylinder that would be really reliable."
   
And such an engine could be tuned for NASCAR's Trucks and Nationwide cars too, Gilmore said: "I don't think the power requirements (for Trucks and Nationwide) would be that much different from what they (IRL) are looking for.
 
"We're at 750 horsepower with Trucks and Nationwide right now. So there are some things we could get to.
 
"We have had some conversations with them. They have some lofty goals with their target pricing. But where they're trying to get to is where we're already at with our Truck program. So I think it's very accomplishable." MikeMulhearn.net

[Editor's Note: Dr. Andy Randolph is their Technical Director.  Andy Randolph earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 1985 from Northwestern University under Professor C.K. Law with a thesis entitled, "Experimental investigation of the gasification mechanisms and soot characteristics of pure and multicomponent droplets" (which is a fancy way of saying that he looked at the transition from liquid fuel to exhaust).

Andy started his career working for General Motors. As I describe in my book, The Physics of NASCAR, Andy got into racing when he realized that his expertise with combustion could be used to gain those precious few horsepower that give one team the edge over the others. He used his vacations to work in race shops before actually finding permanent employment in motorsports. Over his 22-year career, he's worked on every type of engine from one-of-a-kind designs to mass-production engines. Andy has contributed to five Cup championships with three different teams. He had been Director of Engine Development for Hendrick Motorsports before moving to Bill Davis Racing at the start of 2007.

Andy's NASCAR work focuses on research and development, where his broad range of experience comes in handy. His primary contributions–at least those that are published as opposed to proprietary– have been in improving the accuracy of data acquisition techniques, and combustion analysis in the abstract and in applications, like race car engines. Engine die-hards often refer to his work that showed that there can be significant variations from cylinder to cylinder and that you can't really optimize a "race engine" per se, but instead have to optimize it "one cylinder at a time".

11/08/10 AR1.com has been able to verify that Cosworth will not be doing the rumored Chevy IndyCar engine.

11/08/10 Keep in mind that Chevy used Cosworth as their provider during their last seasons in the IRL, so it is possible that they would partner again.  Ilmor currently rebuilds and services the Honda IndyCar Engine, so it makes sense that they stay with Ilmor with the 2012 project as well.  As far as Mecachrome, we believe that they have a much smaller company than they once were and may be under new ownership and that they only do the GP2 and GP3 engines.

11/08/10 Rumors are that Cosworth, Ilmor or even Mecachrome would design the twin turbo V6 for Chevy.  Cosworth has been actively seeking a car manufacturer to team with on a new IndyCar engine, so it's possible they are the one, but of course Roger Penske has Ilmor and since he still controls the direction of the IRL (The Hulman-George just think they do) and has many ties in Detroit, they may get the nod.

11/08/10 This SPEEDTV.com article refutes some of the claims made in this rumor.  But where there is smoke, there is fire we say.

11/07/10 General Motors Co. and its motorsports entity - GM Racing - has committed to fielding a Chevrolet-branded Twin-Turbo V6 racing engine to compete against Honda in the IndyCar Series beginning with the 2012 season. The announcement will be made this Friday, November 12, at a venue yet to be determined, although a press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would not be unexpected. The one thing that IndyCar needed to solidify its future - more than even new teams and additional sponsors - was another engine manufacturer to compete against Honda, and they'll get that as GM - spurred on by executives at the highest level of the company - has decided to jump into the series.  When reached over the weekend the most senior executive directly involved in the decision declined to comment, but it's clear from my sources that GM is planning a new and very aggressive offensive into motorsports as it begins to shed the black cloud of bankruptcy that has stymied the automaker for going on 12 months. GM first fielded a Chevrolet-branded Indy V8 from 1988 - 1993, winning the Indianapolis 500 six consecutive times. GM also won the "500" with an Oldsmobile-branded engine five times in a row from 1997 - 2001, with GM's last victory at the world's most prestigious race coming with a Chevrolet-branded V8 in 2002. zzzz

But there's more to this story - much more - because as GM Racing accelerates its motorsports involvement for the 2011 season and beyond, many interesting collateral details are emerging that are at the very least eye-opening.

First of all, the players involved are noteworthy, beginning with Chip Ganassi Racing. Ganassi, after an intense flirtation with Ford where he considered joining their NASCAR program, is instead committing to a relationship with GM Racing and Chevrolet in NASCAR starting in 2011 and in IndyCar beginning in 2012. Ganassi had apparently been leaning toward going with Ford over the last several weeks but once Ganassi learned that GM was going "all-in" for a new IndyCar racing engine program, his decision to go with GM was a fait accompli. Two details that could not be confirmed at post time are whether or not Ganassi would have an exclusive with the new Chevrolet-branded Indy V6 for the first season - something I would expect would be very attractive to Ganassi but with Roger Penske around certainly not an automatic by any means - and who GM Racing's technical partner will be for its IndyCar engine program.

The implications for IndyCar can only be viewed as enormously positive. This will mean an immediate uptick in credibility for the racing series with the competition between the two global auto manufacturers spurring renewed fan interest, something the series so desperately needs. It also means that other manufacturers who had been sitting on the fence while contemplating involvement with IndyCar may be pushed into joining the fray. That development remains to be seen, however. Autoextremist

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