INDYCAR NEWS: GM, Penske bringing Chevrolet back to IndyCar Series in 2012

From L to R: Chris Perry (Chevrolet), Roger Penske, Randy Bernard, and Helio Castroneves pose with two iconic Chevy cars on the frontstretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after GM announced its return to IndyCar racing in 2012 (Photo: IMS/Ron McQueeney)

 

The pre-announcement music was cool, the venue was perfect (well it was said to be, wasn't there myself) and the words spoken were what fans and teams wanted to hear.

"Today is a great day for race fans, team owners and the Izod IndyCar Series," said series CEO Randy Bernard.

Said three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves: "Turbochargers are back, baby! It's going to be fun!"

On Friday morning from Indianapolis Motor Speedway the Izod IndyCar Series and General Motors announced what we've known about for about a week: Chevrolet is going to get back into IndyCar racing in the 2012 season, with a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V-6 racing engine, and the manufacturer also plans on producing aero kits.

"We've heard time and time again from fans that they want competition. We are excited to have engine manufacturer competition again in the IZOD IndyCar Series, beginning in 2012," Bernard said in a series press release about the event. "Chevrolet brings a strong passion for racing, technology, relevance and innovation, which is a great fit for our new car platform."

(Read complete IndyCar release here)

Bernard also thanked team owner Roger Penske who he said was a "key player" in brokering the deal. Penske-owned Ilmor Engineering will co-develop the engine along with Chevrolet. It will have an aluminum block and cylinder heads, and will be a fully stressed chassis member supporting the gearbox and rear suspension.

Asked later if he had also approached Ford about participating in IndyCar, Penske deflected a bit, instead saying that he hoped Chevrolet's interest and participation would spur others to get involved. Penske thanked IZOD for its work as series sponsor and said IndyCar was gaining in momentum and fans, which was important in gaining the interest of Chevrolet.

Shortly after the presser ended, Penske Racing tweeted that they would be going with the Chevrolet engine in 2012 - no surprise, that.  Penske had 31 IndyCar wins with Chevrolet engines, including four at Indianapolis.

The new Chevrolet engine will use E85 ethanol, it was announced, which begs the question of whether Honda will change to E85 or if IndyCar will provide both the E98 that Honda currently uses as well as E85.

After speaking, Bernard turned the podium over to a pair of General Motors executives, Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing and Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman, Global Product Operations.

Perry outlined the history of Chevrolet in IndyCar, and said there were four reasons why the time was right for a return: (1) participation will open a new fan base for Chevrolet's products, (2) the series is growing in popularity and interest, (3) the technology gained by Chevrolet in IndyCar will translate well to its street vehicles, and (4) "We are competitors ... our goal is to power Chevrolet drivers to victory lane."

Stephens said that participating in IndyCar will help General Motors keep pace with changing fuel economy and emissions standards, and development of a turbocharged 2.4 liter V6 with direct injection will have direct benefit to the non-racing business segment.

"Our goal is to win, on the track, in advance technology and in the market place," said Stephens.

Update: Honda Performance Development CEO Erik Berkman welcomed Chevrolet back to IndyCar, saying in a press release: "We look forward to renewing our relationship with Chevrolet as competitors on the race track and giving the fans of open-wheel racing a spirited and challenging rivalry."

(Read the complete HPD press release here)

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