Friday, November 12, 2010

Chevy Rejoins IndyCar Series in 2012

Photo Credit: Daniel Incandela

On Friday, a press conference was initiated at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Hall of Fame Museum for what would be an important announcement regarding a new manufacturer to the 2012 season. The fact this event was taking place within such a close vicinity to motor racing heritage gave an impression that the orchestration would relate to a new return of an old name. Sure enough, word spread on the intentions of 104-time IndyCar-type race winner and 7-time Indianapolis 500-winning engine manufacturer Chevrolet coming back to IndyCar racing. Following speculation first brought to light by Peter M. De Lorenzo at, the announcement was initially dismissed by the IndyCar Series as a mere rumour. Obviously with the Friday morning gathering, the rumour was true.
Convening on the museum, the notables appearing in front of a sizable press deligation, IZOD IndyCar Series' CEO Randy Bernard, the project manager of the upcoming 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car Tony Cotman, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet marketing Chris Perry and General Motors vice chairman of global product development Tom Stephens formalized the future partnership between the series and the auto company. Beyond the representatives of IndyCar and GM, other figures present for the announcement included IZOD IndyCar team owner Roger Penske along with his Penske Racing drivers Helio Castroneves and Will Power, Simona de Silvestro and Firestone Indy Lights driver Martin Plowman.

Active in NASCAR and Grand-Am road racing, Chris Perry sheds light on why now Chevrolet has decided to add the IZOD IndyCar Series back into the brand's portfolio. "There are several reasons. First this series opens up a new, distinct fan base for Chevrolet in the motorsports community. These fans are passionate about IndyCar and the technology that drives the sport and these teams. A return provides an important opportunity to expose our product and our technology to this well-educated, highly desirable audience.". Perry also added the series' skyrocketing growth of appeal to the younger male market as well as the utilization of modern day engine technologies as lures back to IndyCar racing for 2012. Reentering Indy-style racing lets us take our advanced engine technology to the upper bounds of what's possible. GM's Tom Stephens supported the latter point saying "It will provide a dynamic training ground for our engineers who will transfer the technologies we develop for racing to the products we sell to our customers." echoing the auto company's commitment to reducing employing high-technology in production-based powerplants to improve engine efficiency, CO2 emissions and take advantage of Ethanol-based fuels.

Chevrolet's participation in IndyCar-style racing is reflected within two stints, the first between 1986-1993 and the second time when Chevrolet replaced General Motor's discontinued Oldsmobile name in the IRL for 2003 to 2005. Having left open wheel IndyCar-style racing for the second time in 2005, it was doubtful if the bowtie branding would ever be worn on the nose cone of an open wheel racing car again.
As Chevrolet enters the IZOD IndyCar series in 2012, there will once again be an engine rivalry in North America's premier open wheel racing organization. Honda Racing Development (who has been the exclusive powerplant provider for the series since Toyota pulled out after the 2005 campaign) was the first company to conform to the new engine requirements for 2012 and beyond. 
Chevrolet's entrance back to IndyCar racing comes as a result of the ICONIC Advisory Committee that has spent much of this year constructing what the future will bring to the North American open wheel racing tour. With all competition cars running on Dallara chassis modified with a selection of aerodynamic body kits, some IndyCar fans felt betrayed that the series will not feature technology in competition with other technology. IndyCar's Randy Bernard recognizes that point saying "The one thing that we have heard time and time again from fans and everyone involved in the IZOD IndyCar Series is, "We want competition." Today is a new day. The IndyCar is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead." The promise of engine rivalry provides some colour to the upcoming 2012 starting order.

Bracing for extensive testing of the Ilmor-based racing engine built to the 2.4 liter turbocharged V-6 specs, Chevrolet project staff will be working through the first half of 2011 to ready the powerplant in preparations to sign-up teams into the 2012 season. "Our goal, no matter which series we enter, no matter which track we compete on, is to power Chevrolet drivers to Victory Lane. That's our goal here, as well. It will be great to compete on the track in IndyCar once again." Perry said.

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