FONTANA, Dec. 19, 2001 -- Christmas came early for Buddy Lazier when he took the wraps off his new Chevy Indy V8 at California Speedway. The all-new Chevrolet racing engine completed 570 trouble-free miles in its second successful track test.
After patiently circling the 2-mile superspeedway at a steady 223-mph race pace, Lazier put his foot down on his 255th circuit and turned a scorching 225.15 mph lap to celebrate another milestone in the ongoing development of the Chevy Indy V8.
"In my entire racing career, I've never seen a brand-new motor run so well right out of the box," said Lazier. "The Chevy engine exceeded all of my expectations.
"The motor feels lighter and that helps the car handle better, but it's the power that is really impressive," Lazier added. "Horsepower is a driver's best friend, so this Chevy engine and I are going to get along just fine."
Lazier turned his first laps at California Speedway in Hemelgarn Racing's Chevrolet Dallara during the two-day test. He will return to the fast Fontana oval on Feb. 5-6 for the "Test in the West," and he will compete in the inaugural IRL event in Southern California on March 24, 2002.
In addition to the extended test at California Speedway, the GM-designed Chevy Indy V8 has successfully completed three 500-mile dynamometer durability runs and a track test at Phoenix International Raceway by 2001 IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. in Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara.
"This was a brutal test for the Chevy Indy V8 at California Speedway because the engine ran continuously at wide-open throttle," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL/Road Racing Group manager. "That duty cycle simulates the demands the engine will encounter at the Indianapolis 500, and it came through without a problem.
"Now that we have validated the engine's reliability on the dyno and on the track, we will continue to work on developing more horsepower and speed," Negri continued. "We are simultaneously producing parts so that other teams can begin testing programs with the Chevrolet engine."
Lazier's Chevy Indy V8 engine was prepared by Speedway Engine Development in Indianapolis, one of the independent engine builders that assemble and test GM engines for IRL teams.
"We're very pleased with the results and anxious to get the engine back and evaluate the components," said Speedway Engine Development engineer Brian Figg. "This is our second Chevy Indy V8 that has run more than 550 miles. Obviously the reliability is there, so it may be time to look at pumping up the horsepower."
Lazier can't wait for that next step.
"It was a great two days for us," said the 1996 Indy 500 winner and 2000 Indy Racing League champion. "There is huge potential in this engine. I'm looking forward to racing it."