Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Lotus announces three partner teams for 2012
2. Fisher receives international award
3. First of 2012 chassis delivered to Dallara in Indiana
4. Of note
1. Lotus announces three partner teams for 2012: Lotus Motorsport announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show that Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Bryan Herta Autosport and HVM Racing will utilize its twin turbocharged V-6 engine for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
Additionally, engine supply partnership agreements will enable Lotus Motorsport to build long-term technical and commercial, marketing and promotional collaborations with the three teams.
Last November at the automotive show, Lotus announced it would join Chevrolet and Honda as engine manufacturers for 2012. Group Lotus, based in Norfolk, England, has competed in a variety of motorsports series, including Indy car racing, since Colin Chapman founded the company in 1948. Jim Clark drove a Lotus chassis to victory in the 1965 Indianapolis 500. A partner with KV Racing Technology the past two seasons, this will be the first time Lotus has produced an engine for Indy car competition.
Engine manufacturer competition for the first time in the series since 2005 complements the new 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series chassis.
"Exactly 12 months on, we are here with an all new Lotus engine and three teams, ready to go," Group Lotus Director of Motorsports Operations Miodrag Kotur said. "The numbers that the engine is already achieving in our dyno testing are extremely encouraging, so our hard work is well and truly paying off.
"These partnerships with Bryan Herta Autosport, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and HVM Racing mean a great deal to Lotus Motorsport and mark the start of a new chapter for Lotus in the IZOD IndyCar Series. We're thrilled that these already successful and illustrious teams have chosen Lotus, as we believe that our capabilities as a partner will pay dividends for them in the future.
"These three teams have immediately become part of the Lotus legend and have joined us in our journey as one of the most innovative and successful sports and racing car brands in the world."
The Lotus V-6, which has been designed and is undergoing testing at Engine Development Ltd. in the UK -- a company owned by longtime Indy car engine builder John Judd -- is expected to make its on-track debut in early January.
"We have also managed to produce a very light powerplant, in the true spirit of Lotus," Kotur said. "However, we are keen to test the package on track and look forward to our first test in early January, slightly later than originally planned but designed to give us more time to fine-tune our package before taking to the track."
Lotus will open a U.S. base of operations in Indianapolis early in 2012 for support and logistics.
"Despite the choices, once it was apparent that Lotus would produce an engine it was a clear decision for us to run with them," said HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins, whose team fielded Simona de Silvestro in the No. 78 car this past season. "I have great respect, confidence and enthusiasm in the product they will produce. I have good historical knowledge of the companies involved and their abilities. Being the first team to commit reflects this and being an integral part of the Lotus development process is important to the re-establishment of HVM as a leading team, this time in the IZOD IndyCar Series."
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is planning to run two full-time cars in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season with an additional entry for the Indianapolis 500.
"To enter into a partnership with Lotus as a factory partner team is a huge step for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing," team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said. "In working closely with the team at Lotus over the past few months, we have had unique access and awareness of their strong commitment to the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. Many of our collective efforts are already underway and we could not be more enthusiastic about this off-season's testing and development program."
2. Fisher receives international award: Sarah Fisher, owner of the IZOD IndyCar Series team by the same name, is the recipient of the Team Principal of the Year via voting in the Professional MotorSport World Expo Awards for 2011.
The event in Cologne, Germany, concluded Nov. 17 with awards presented in eight categories.
Sarah Fisher Racing earned its initial IZOD IndyCar Series victory -- at Kentucky Speedway with driver Ed Carpenter in October -- in its fourth season of competition. In forming the team in February 2008, Fisher became the series' first female owner/driver. She's also the youngest team owner in the series.
Fisher vacated the seat following the 2010 season to concentrate on management duties full time. In September, she gave birth to daughter Zoey.
"What an incredible honor to receive such a prestigious award," Fisher said. "We are a small team, who as a small group go above and beyond our job titles to get the job done both on and off track. Our team is built on the leadership from every individual here. They all contribute so much to our goals and successes and we all take ownership together in both the good and bad times.
"This award means a lot as well to my husband Andy, the COO of SFR, who has been a rock solid leader for the team especially during my temporary absence in delivering our first child, Zoey, back in September."
The 20-member judging panel, which included Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti and Andrea Toso of Dallara Automobili, was quick to recognize the team's efforts.
"To take your first win shortly after you've lost your major sponsor, in an arena as competitive as Indy cars, and to do it while going through childbirth … that takes a lot of spirit, determination and refusal to be daunted. My hat's off to Sarah Fisher," said panelist David Tremayne, a freelance journalist.
Other nominees were Amato Ferrari of AF Corse, Olivier Quesnel of Citroen Racing & Peugeot Sport and Frank Wrathall of DynoJet Racing.
Xtrac, the gearbox supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series, received the Powertrain Innovation of the Year award for its Instantaneous Gearchange System. In the mainshaft of the gearbox, it allows the next gear to be engaged before the current gear is disengaged. With no loss of tractive effort during gear changes, the performance of the vehicle can be measurably improved.
"The system was developed in motorsport and has been raced for a number of years," noted Cliff Hawkins, development director at Xtrac. "But IGS may be particularly apt to the development of multispeed transmissions for a new era of electric vehicles where, because of the high inertial loads of electric motors, it's not possible to use traditional synchronizer gearboxes."
3. First of 2012 chassis delivered to Dallara in Indiana: Dallara Automobili is shipping two 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series chassis per day from its Italy headquarters to its Speedway, Ind., temporary facility through next week to fulfill the initial batch ordered by teams.
Dallara associates will complement with items delivered to the U.S. technical base -- wiring looms, radiators, etc. -- for team pickup starting Dec. 15. Engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda are continuing on-track evaluation with their own Dallara chassis through mid-December. The next session is scheduled for Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., at the end of the month.
Dallara officials expect to move into their new design and production facility on Main Street in Speedway, Ind., in early January.
4. Of note: Cosworth has received the SME Manufacturer of the Year and the UK Manufacturer of the Year based on its innovation in manufacturing and engineering, financial success and growth in supplying the aerospace and automotive markets at The Manufacturer of the Year Awards for 2011. The Cosworth Group is co-owned by KV Racing Technology co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven. … IZOD IndyCar Series driver E.J. Viso and former Firestone Indy Lights drivers Jay Howard, Martin Plowman and Raphael Matos and current Firestone Indy Lights driver Victor Carbone are among more than 500 entrants from across the world in the 15th SKUSA SuperNationals karting event this weekend in Las Vegas.