ICONIC bears first fruits with 2012 preliminary engine spec

The 2012 IndyCar concept #66 by Swift Engineering. (Photo: www.swiftengineering.com)

The days of a single-manufacturer sealed-engine specification in the IZOD IndyCar Series are coming to an end, according to a press release issued by the sanction today.

In what they call "a dramatic change," IndyCar officials have opened up the series' powerplant rules by mandating maximums of six cylinders and 2.4 cubic inches of displacement, as well as a horsepower range of 550-700 hp and turbochargers. All engines will be required to run on ethanol fuel.

This first step was taken on the recommendation of the ICONIC IndyCar Advisory Committee by IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard and is the precursor to the series' new chassis specification, which is expected to be announced prior to June 30 of this year.

The new "open" spec is intended to encourage manufacturer interest by making the IndyCar engines more relevant to existing automaker powerplant technologies. In addition, the series will work with automakers to help incorporate existing and future green initiatives in hybrid technology, energy recovery and fuel conservation.

"Everyone wants to see competition and high performance on the track," said Bernard. "We are the fastest and most versatile racing in the world and this new engine strategy will continue to enhance that.  Now that we have a platform in place, it is our job to put this package in front of the automotive industry to attract the type of participation that will elevate the sport."

Series President of Competition Brian Barnhart claims that IndyCar will work to "keep a level playing field across the board with the various engines" by instituting regulations and restrictions based on reference engines supplied by manufacturers.

There still remains some uncertainty around the new specification, especially with regards to boost limits - an always controversial area that has been a source of conflict in past years. However, the first step is a positive one for everyone, and if clarifications to the spec lead to the possibility of engine manufacturers being able to use their powerplants across multiple series (i.e. between IndyCar and Grand American or ALMS) then interest is expected to be high.

More importantly, the IndyCar series' return to a specification that encourages innovation and new directions instead of focusing solely on cost containment has been in demand for some time because of the intrinsic promotional value of the former direction to automakers.

"We truly want to challenge manufacturers to once again make our sport a proving ground and a platform to showcase technology that will benefit the future of their industry," Bernard concluded.

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