Wednesday, June 02, 2010

IZOD Indy Racing League Moving to a Multi-Engine Model for the 2012 Racing Season

A press release from the fine folks at the Indy Racing League:

Basically, the ICONIC (Innovative, Open-Wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-Effective) Advisory Committee is throwing the doors wide open to any and all engine manufacturers for the 2012 season.

It looks like Honda is not going to be the default engine manufacturer for all Indy cars. They have been the sole engine provider for the last few years to the Indy Racing League. I don't know if the racing teams have always had the chance to choose different manufacturers, but they always chose Honda, or if Honda was the exclusive provider.

What this all means is that engine manufacturers are allowed to change the engine design, meeting the maximum possible specs, but be flexible enough to work on different types of tracks. It also means that teams will be allowed to choose any engine for their cars that they want.

Either way, this should be interesting for future races, as it will force/allow engine manufacturers to pull out all the stops in order to be the most attractive option to the different teams.

One technology I'd like to see (my friend, Mr. Noobie, calls those TILTS), is a technology that allows engines to maintain the same speed while conserving fuel. Given that this year's race really came down to who was able to conserve their fuel the longest, a fuel saving piece of technology might have made a difference and brought us a completely different winner.

Fans and industry representatives have asked for increased manufacturer participation in the sport, and the IZOD IndyCar Series is providing such a platform with its new engine strategy.

The series announced today that its new generation of engines will be more powerful and efficient than the current formula. The new engine strategy is based on a recommendation from the ICONIC (Innovative, Open-Wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-Effective) Advisory Committee.

The exciting new platform, which debuts in 2012, will allow manufacturers to produce engines with a maximum of six cylinders as well as maximum displacement of 2.4 cubic liters. The ethanol-fueled engines will produce between 550 and 700 horsepower to suit the diverse set of tracks on which the IZOD IndyCar Series competes and will be turbocharged to allow for flexibility in power.

"The ICONIC Advisory Committee has researched future engine platforms with manufacturers, teams, drivers and fans, and they felt this strategy best highlights key attributes of the sport - speed, competition and diversity," said Randy Bernard, chief executive officer of the Indy Racing League. "We feel this open and all-inclusive platform will make our sport an attractive option to engine manufacturers, while allowing development of a relevant and innovative platform to the current and future automotive industry by highlighting efficiency, performance, durability, quality, environmental responsibility and safety."

The IZOD IndyCar Series will explore new and relevant technologies to incorporate into the engine such as energy recovery, hybrids, fuel conservation and other developing green initiatives.

"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. 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."

The new engine strategy will require that the IZOD IndyCar Series to adopt rules that can accommodate various engine architectures.

"We will continue to evaluate rules that will keep a level playing field across the board with the various engines that could enter our sport," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations. "For example, we could see a V-6 competing against an Inline 4 at all IZOD IndyCar Series events in the future. We will require reference engines as a benchmark in performance while looking at sonic air restrictors, fuel flow restrictions and more as key criteria for competition."

The IZOD IndyCar Series formed the ICONIC Advisory Committee is tasked with reviewing, researching and making a recommendation to the league on the next generation IZOD IndyCar Series engine and chassis. The league plans to have a decision on its chassis by June 30.

"Speaking on behalf of the ICONIC Advisory Committee members, it has been an honor to contribute to the development of the new generation of IndyCar," said Gil de Ferran, team owner representative to the ICONIC Advisory Committee. "We feel this new engine strategy is open, inclusive, powerful and high performance, in keeping with the historical values associated with Indy car racing. Additionally it poses relevant challenges to which the automotive industry faces today".

Committee members include de Ferran, Barnhart, Tony Cotman, Eddie Gossage, Rick Long, Tony Purnell and Neil Ressler. It is mediated by retired Air Force Gen. William R. Looney III.

No comment on the ICONIC mediator's name. I want to be invited back to blog about future races. Although it makes me wonder if he has a plaque in his home that says "you don't have to be a Looney to live here, but it sure helps."

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