For Immediate Release
4-LITER PRODUCTION-BASED ENGINE ANNOUNCED FOR 1997 IRL SERIES
INDIANAPOLIS, December 14, 1995 -- The four-liter, normally-aspirated V8 engine, in production or on the drawing board at most of the world's major automakers, becomes the powerplant standard of the Indy Racing League on Jan. 1, 1997, IRL officials announced today.
"We've had direct input in the development of this program from a number of manufacturers," said Jack Long, IRL executive director. "We expect these manufacturers to announce their intention to come on board in the very near future."
The engines will be production-based derivatives of the widely-proclaimed high-performance passenger car engine formula of the future. Rules call for four valves per cylinder, double-overhead cams, a limit of 10,500 RPMs and a design to operate on methanol, with a price cap to be established.
"The widespread availability of this engine formula and the ability of teams to work on their own engines should significantly cut team budgets to run in the Indianapolis 500 and the rest of our series," said Tony George, founder of the IRL and president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Teams can own engines instead of leasing them and it reopens the door of our sport to more competitors who wish to have more control of their own racing programs."
Keith Ward, USAC's chief steward for the IRL, agreed.
"It's a state-of-the-art engine and most manufacturers expect it to be the benchmark for the next decade," Ward said. "It'll provide a more level playing field because they will all be starting with the same thing."
Horsepower-wise, the engines are expected to be in the 650-700 range. Generally, today's Indianapolis-car engine makes 750-850 horsepower. According to technical officials, taking away 150 horsepower will have an effect, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, of a decline in speed of about eight miles an hour for an average lap, without other variables being considered.
Long said the IRL is working with both domestic and foreign car manufacturers and that there have been the necessary commitments to accommodate a Jan. 1, 1997 starting date.
"The rules are a culmination of meetings with manufacturers which started in May of this year," he added. "The manufacturers were an integral part of this rules package and they've helped to draft it.
"These engines will be available to any team in the IRL at a set price. Teams will perform their own maintenance. They'll have access to parts. Going into the next season, teams will own these motors and they can keep them or sell them as desired. A middle-of-the-road team, if it has five of these engines, would probably cut half to two-thirds of its engine budget.
"This program puts our aftermarket industry back into business with Indianapolis-type cars. Rebuild shops and aftermarket equipment shops will again have a place in our sport."
Current specifications call for turbocharged purpose-built racing engines.
The IRL launches its series of oval-track races with the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando on Saturday, Jan. 27, 1996. Other first year events include the Phoenix 200, March 24; the Indianapolis 500, May 26; the New England 200 at Loudon, N.H., Aug. 18 and the Las Vegas 200, Sept. 15.