IRL: Indy 500 Aurora Pole Day story

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Rick Voegelin 317-227-6288 AURORA V8 WINS INDY 500 POLE Oldsmobile Sweeps Top 15 Spots, Powers 17 of 21 Qualifiers in First Day of Time Trials for Indianapolis 500 ...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Rick Voegelin 317-227-6288

AURORA V8 WINS INDY 500 POLE

Oldsmobile Sweeps Top 15 Spots, Powers 17 of 21 Qualifiers in First Day of Time Trials for Indianapolis 500

Speedway, Ind.; May 10, 1997 -- Oldsmobile's production-based Indy Aurora V8 will start on the pole for the 81st running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25. The Indy Aurora V8 won its third consecutive pole in the Indy Racing League series today when Arie Luyendyk ran 218.263 mph with Treadway Racing's Aurora V8-powered G-Force chassis at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Seventeen of the 21 qualifiers -- including the 15 fastest drivers -- used the 4.0-liter Indy Aurora V8, which is based on the 32-valve DOHC engine that is available exclusively in the Aurora luxury performance sedan.

The Indy Aurora V8 is the first naturally aspirated engine to power the Indy 500 pole winner in 30 years. Luyendyk, the 1990 Indy 500 champion, earned a $5,000 contingency award from Oldsmobile for capturing the Indy 500 pole with Aurora power. Eight different Aurora engine builders are represented on list of Indy 500 qualifiers. "Engines have been a concern, but, knock on wood, my engine manufacturer has done a great job this week," said Luyendyk, 43, of Scottsdale, Ariz. "We've had no problems at all with our Roush engines, and hopefully they'll run the distance."

Tony Stewart was the second fastest qualifier in Team Menard's G-Force Aurora at 218.021 mph -- just .042 mph behind Luyendyk. "It was a battle between Arie and myself," said Stewart, who won the pole in the two previous races in Orlando and Phoenix. "We put ourselves behind the 8-ball in the first two days chasing the car setup. As far as durability, I'm not really concerned about it. We had two motors go roughly 550 miles in testing, and the last motor was just shy of running 600 miles. We feel we have a motor that will go 500 miles comfortably.

"The car's been great, and I think our motor's going to be great," Stewart predicted. "I wouldn't mind trading the pole for the win."

Rookie Vincenzo Sospiri of Monte Carlo, Monaco, completed the Aurora sweep of the front row with his Team Scandia Dallara. "The car was fantastic the way (team manager) Dick Simon set it up," Sospiri reported. "I think it was easy for anybody, even another rookie, to do that time. All I had to do was keep my foot down and try to get the best time out of the corners."

Ron Hemelgarn, owner of the car driven by defending Indy 500 champion Buddy Lazier, announced that he had switched from Infiniti to Aurora engines. In spite of limited practice time with his new powerplant, Lazier was the tenth fastest qualifier at 214.286 mph.

The Indy Aurora V8 maintained its perfect record in IRL competition since the debut of the series' new engine and chassis formula in January. Olds-powered cars won both poles, won both races, and led every lap in the first two IRL events of the year in Orlando and Phoenix.

The Memorial Day classic will mark a milestone for Oldsmobile, which is celebrating its 100th birthday in 1997 -- the first American automaker to celebrate a century in business. Oldsmobile will race for the first time in the Indy 500, and a stock production Aurora driven by three-time Indy 500 champion Johnny Rutherford will pace "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

"This is a great day for the new Oldsmobile as we prepare to begin our second century," said Oldsmobile General Manager Darwin Clark. "The Indy Racing League has provided an opportunity for Oldsmobile to compete in the world's most famous auto race with an engine that was inspired by the Aurora V8 we sell to our customers."

At the start of practice for the Indy 500, Oldsmobile had delivered 105 Indy Aurora V8 engine kits to independent engine builders, with another 20 expected to be completed by race day.

"It has taken an incredible effort by the engineers who designed and developed the Indy Aurora V8 and the eight independent engine builders to produce this number of engines in a very short time period," commented Joe Negri, GM Motorsports IRL and road racing group manager.

"In the past, a new manufacturer coming into Indy car racing could work with a limited number of cars and resolve the inevitable development issues before starting production," Negri noted. "This program is quite different; you have to look at the number of Aurora V8 engines that are running strong."

Qualifying to complete the 33-car starting field for the Indy 500 will continue on Sunday, May 11, with a second weekend of time trials scheduled for May 17-18. The 81st Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m. local time (12:00 noon EDT) on May 25. The race will be televised live by ABC Sports.

INDIANAPOLIS 500 FIRST-DAY QUALIFYING RESULTS

Driver Entrant Engine Speed

1.  Arie Luyendyk   Treadway Racing     Aurora    218.263
2.  Tony Stewart    Team Menard         Aurora    218.021
3.  Vincenzo Sospiri Team Scandia       Aurora    216.822
4.  Robbie Buhl     Team Menard         Aurora    216.102
5.  Scott Goodyear  Treadway Racing     Aurora    215.811
6.  Jim Guthrie     Blueprint Racing    Aurora    215.207
7.  Jeff Ward       FirstPlus Team Cheever Aurora 214.517
8.  Davey Hamilton  A.J. Foyt Ent.      Aurora    214.484
9.  Eliseo Salazar  Team Scandia        Aurora    214.320
10. Buddy Lazier    Hemelgarn Racing    Aurora    214.286
11. Eddie Cheever   FirstPlus Team Cheever Aurora 214.073
12. Robby Gordon    Team Sabco          Aurora    213.211
13. Stephan Gregoire Chastain Motorsports Aurora  213.126
14. Affonso Giaffone Chitwood Motorsports Aurora  212.974
15. Kenny Brack     Galles Racing       Aurora    211.221
16. Lyn St. James   Hemelgarn Racing    Infiniti  210.145
17. Buzz Calkins    Bradley Motorsports Aurora    209.564
18. Jack Miller     Arizona Motorsports Infiniti  209.250
19. Allesandro Zampedri Team Scandia    Aurora    209.094
20. Mike Groff      Byrd-Cunningham Rcng.Infiniti 208.537
21. Roberto Guerrero Pagan Racing       Infiniti  207.371
 
                              # # #

E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 10-May-1997

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Robby Gordon , Buzz Calkins , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Arie Luyendyk , Jim Guthrie , Scott Goodyear , Roberto Guerrero , Kenny Brack , Lyn St. James , Vincenzo Sospiri , Dick Simon , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford , Jack Miller