IndyCar, Chevrolet, and Honda Announce Next Engine Formula

INDIANAPOLIS -RIS- (May 19, 2018) Bucking the automobile industry's trend toward more fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative technologies, IndyCar announced today that they've reached an agreement with current engine suppliers Chevrolet and Honda to introduce a 2.4L twin-turbo V6 engine formula in 2021, to be run through the 2026 IndyCar season.

The current IndyCar engines are 2.2L twin-turbo V6s, manufactured by Chevrolet and Honda.

Opting for "fast and loud" over fan and market relevance, IndyCar is responding to drivers' requests for more horsepower (the new formula should yield "900+ horsepower", says INDYCAR VP of Competition and Operations, Jay Frye).

Frye says they've reached out to other manufacturers who aren't currently competing in IndyCar in hopes the new twin-turbo V6 formula would be of interest to them. This introduction date allows them time to enter competition at a time of a "level moment" for all manufacturers.

"They're aware of what we're doing," said Frye. "We get their feedback."

Such currently disinterested manufacturers would include the Ford Motor Company, FIAT/Chrysler, Toyota, and the other European- and Asian-based manufacturers.

While specifics have yet to be hammered out, it's believed the new package will fit into the current Dallara IndyCar aero kit.

Tests will begin in the summer of 2020.

One can't help but wonder if this isn't a catastrophic mistake by IndyCar.

When Carl Fisher and his three co-founders built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was designed as a testing ground for the automotive industry. For years, technological developments at the Speedway found their way into the family car - the rear-view mirror, turbo- and supercharging, fuel injection, disc brakes, seat belts, electronic ignition.

With the entire automobile industry gravitating toward alternative technologies that are more fuel-efficient and ecologically sensitive, the decision to go toward "fast and loud" as they called it seems terminally misguided.

The drivers clearly want more horsepower, particularly on road/street courses. Drivers ALWAYS want more horsepower. In the early 1970s, unfettered turbocharging gave Indy cars over 1000 horsepower.

But more horsepower means shorter engine life, and higher costs for more-frequent rebuilds.

It seems the technologists behind this decision are resting this decision on the desires of the drivers and teams, and don't seem to understand what younger, currently unengaged future audience members might be interested in, as fans of the old-fashioned notion of fast and loud cars die off.

Is Indy car racing ready for hybrid technology or electrification? It should be.

Carl Fisher would have been.


Verizon IndyCar Series
  For Immediate Release  

INDYCAR announces more powerful engine formula to be used starting in 2021

INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, May 19, 2018) - Beginning in 2021, INDYCAR engines will produce more power due to a new configuration, the sanctioning body announced today.

The 2.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines are projected to generate at least 100 more horsepower than the current 2.2-liter platform, with more than 900 horsepower achieved in the 2.4-liter formula when using push-to-pass overtake activation.

Providing stability for the Verizon IndyCar Series and its competitors, the engine regulations will be in place for six years, through the 2026 season. INDYCAR has utilized the 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6 formula since 2012, with exclusive use of twin turbos since 2014.

Engines will continue to turn at a maximum of 12,000 RPM.

On-track testing will begin in the summer of 2020.

"Our drivers have been asking for more horsepower and thanks to the hard work of Chevrolet, Honda and the INDYCAR engine group, they're going to get it," said Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations.

Executives from Chevrolet and Honda said the new configuration suits their needs.

"The 2.4-liter, twin-turbo V-6 engine formula that will be introduced for the 2021 season will continue to showcase relevant technologies that we incorporate in our production engines," said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for General Motors. "The opportunity to transfer learnings in performance, reliability and efficiency between the racetrack and the showroom is very important to Chevrolet."

"The new INDYCAR engine formula should be exciting for the fans and an interesting technical challenge for Honda Performance Development," said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development. "While the overall architecture remains similar to the current engine, the increased displacement will bring many changes, including a notable increase in power that should please all fans of the sport. In addition, it provides our designers and engineers with an opportunity for significant development, which is a challenge we welcome at Honda."

Frye said additional manufacturers have been included in the planning of the next generation of engine specifications.

"We've talked with a lot of key executives and asked for their opinions, and they've all said this is a very relevant platform to what they're doing," Frye said. "No announcements of additional manufacturers are imminent, but it feels like we're on a good path."

INDYCAR is the governing body of: the Verizon IndyCar Series, the premier open-wheel racing series in North America; the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires development ladder, which includes Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda; and the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BF Goodrich Tires. INDYCAR events are available to a worldwide audience through a variety of multimedia platforms, highlighted by broad-reaching partnerships with ABC and NBCSN. INDYCAR is continually at the forefront of motorsports innovation with drivers, teams and tracks benefiting from safety and technological improvements such as the SAFER Barrier, SWEMS wheel and chassis component tethers, chassis enhancements, advanced aerodynamic bodywork kits, high-definition in-car cameras and E85 ethanol fuel.  

Tom Beeler

Tom has been a contributor to RIS since 1992. He was invited to join the staff as a full-time reporter/editor in 1995, and has covered IndyCar, Formula 1, NASCAR, Grand-Am, ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to his RIS work, Tom has been a contributor for General Motors, Nissan, Toyota and the ACO.

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Volume 2018, Issue 5, Posted 12:00 PM, 05.19.2018