IRL: New 2000 Cars Are Complete Package

NEW ENGINE/CHASSIS PACKAGE HAS TEAMS REVVED FOR 2000 SEASON INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Dec. 23, 1999 -- After a successful debut at Walt Disney World Speedway where Indy Racing League teams logged more than 3,000 trouble-free miles, the new Indy ...


INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Dec. 23, 1999 -- After a successful debut at Walt Disney World Speedway where Indy Racing League teams logged more than 3,000 trouble-free miles, the new Indy Racing engine and car package has officials and competitors excited about the 2000 racing season.

Ten drivers and teams were in Orlando from Dec. 10-12, testing new chassis and 3.5-liter engines. The result was one of the most impressive debuts for a new formula of car in any series.

Through the course of the two-day Open Test and the one-day Firestone tire test, a total of 3,030 laps were run in various chassis/engine combinations. Seven new Dallara chassis made their way onto the tricky 1-mile Disney oval, while one new G Force chassis, two '99 Dallaras and one '99 G Force were tested. Either a 3.5-liter Oldsmobile Aurora V8 or a 3.5-liter Nissan Indy Infiniti engine powered all the chassis.

"Throughout the paddock during that first test weekend, there was universal excitement for the new equipment that will be raced in the Indy Racing League in 2000," said Tony George, Indy Racing League founder. "Our engine and chassis suppliers have worked hard to build these new cars, and the benefactors will be the racing fans. They are going to witness close racing with a new look and sound."

The first race of the Indy Racing League's 2000 season is the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 29, 2000.

Here's an up-close look at the new package:

Why the Change?

The Indy Racing League's chassis and engine formula that debuted in 1997 had evolved into one of the most competitive open wheel packages on any racetrack. But numerous safety-based changes mandated by the league called for the design of an all-new chassis in 2000.

Indy Racing car constructors Dallara (of Italy), G Force (Great Britain) and Riley & Scott (Indianapolis) all were required to build and offer new chassis for the 2000 season. In addition, new engine regulations call for the engine size to be reduced from 4 liters (244 cubic inches) to 3.5 liters (214 cubic inches).

In 2000, all new chassis built must also be fitted with a new Xtrac gearbox with a sequential shifter. Firestone is the sole supplier of tires for the Indy Racing League, so all cars will be equipped with Firestone Firehawk racing tires.

About The Chassis

Maintaining the traditional open-wheel and open-cockpit principles, the 2000 chassis will continue to be carbon fiber/composite monocoque designs that use the engine as an integral component of the car. State-of-the-art designing will allow for manageable ground effects packages and Indy-style looks.

Cosmetically, an Indy Racing car will still be easily recognized by the airbox located above the driver's head. This airbox, which incorporates the existing roll hoop, forces air into the engine compartment.

"We're confident that the changes made for the new Indy Racing chassis will not only make the car safer for the drivers but will thrill the race fans," said Indy Racing League Director of Racing Operations Brian Barnhart. "These new designs, combined with the sound produced by the 3.5-liter engines, will be an exciting package."

Some of the key improvements in the 2000 chassis include:

*A cockpit opening increased to 19 inches wide, providing better head protection to the driver through increased headrest thickness.

*Additional anti-intrusion barriers on chassis sides to improve side-impact performance.

*An integrated SWEMS system with strengthened cables and improved cable attachment points.

*Outer edges of sidepods increased in length to lessen the possibility of interlocking wheels.

*New, lighter transmission with a sequential shift pattern.

*Improved rear attenuator attachment.

*Increase in minimum sidepod height from 16 inches to 17 inches. Other, less-visible changes for the chassis include higher impact-and-load testing minimum requirements.

New Engine and New Sound

The new Indy Racing League engine formula from 2000-2002 calls for the engine size to be reduced from 4 liters (244 cubic inches) to 3.5 liters (214 cubic inches) and allows a new crankshaft and engine firing order, which will alter the pitch and tone of the new engine significantly.

In addition, the engine is no longer production-based. Engine designs must be submitted by an automobile manufacturer and meet Indy Racing League specifications. This will allow manufacturers that do not have dual-overhead-cam, V8 engines in their showrooms to produce engines for Indy Racing competition.

All engines must meet minimum weight and size requirements, must fit all Indy Racing chassis and be available to all teams at a set price.

Engine speed will continue to be controlled by a rev limiter, with a maximum of 10,700 RPM. Flat, 180-degree crankshafts will be optional. But the new crankshaft and engine firing order will produce a more pleasing engine sound due to the timing of the exhaust pulses, enhancing the experience for spectators.

The reliability of the 3.5-liter engines also should be greater than their 4.0-liter predecessors. The new engines have a shorter crankshaft stroke, which decreases piston speed by more than 150 feet per minute from the prior level. Piston speed is a major factor in engine reliability.

"We are very pleased with the results we have seen to date in testing the 3.5-liter Oldsmobile engine," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL/Road Racing group manager. "Several engines have already run more than 400 miles on the track, and that verifies what we have seen in our successful dynamometer simulations of a 200-mile race at Walt Disney World Speedway. We are currently working hard on validating an engine specification for the 500-mile race at Indianapolis.

Eddie Cheever Jr. is the sole campaigner of the Nissan Indy Infiniti engine, and Team Cheever and Nissan were equally pleased after the initial test of their 3.5-liter engine.

"We learned a lot from the first few tests of the Infiniti Indy 3.5 liter engine," said Frank Honsowetz, Infiniti Motorsports manager. "At the Orlando Open Test, Eddie (Cheever) and his brother Ross Cheever ran more miles than the race distance without any problems. Our times were competitive, which is a good sign considering that Team Cheever was using their '99 Dallara and running for the first time with Firestone tires.

"The engine we ran at the Orlando Open Test is an update of last year's 4.0-liter engine, which led three races and finished third at Phoenix and fourth at Pikes Peak and Texas. By changing the crankshaft stroke and a few other components we created a 3.5-liter engine. Really the biggest difference is the engine will be about 60 horsepower less meaning that speeds will be slower and safer. I think we will see the performance and competitiveness of the engine stay equal to if not better than last year's engine."

Major Technical Differences Between 4.0-liter and 3.5-liter Indy Racing Engines 1999 (4.0 liter) 2000 (3.5 liter) Maximum RPM 10,000 10,700 Horsepower 700 650 Bore 93 mm 93 mm Stroke Approx. 73 mm Approx. 64 mm Maximum Piston Speed App. 4,800 ft./minute App. 4,650 ft./minute Minimum Deck Height Approx. 205 mm Approx. 205 mm Rod Length Approx. 138 mm Approx. 143 mm

Four independent Oldsmobile engine builders were represented at the initial Open Test. They were Brayton Engineering, Comptech, Speedway Engine Development and Team Menard.

"We are very proud of how well the Oldsmobile engine builders have adapted to the 3.5-liter engine formula," Negri said. "They accelerated the development of the new engine package and provided valuable input as we developed our recommended engine specification."

Have Costs Been Controlled?

Though the car constructors were required to make new chassis for 2000, teams may still use 1997-'99 models in competition in 2000. Chassis from 1997 or '98 must meet 1999 specifications. The rules for the 2000 chassis formula will be in place for a minimum of three years (2002).

Existing 4.0-liter engines will not become obsolete with the new rules. Teams can shorten the stroke of a 4.0-liter engine with a new crankshaft, four camshafts, pistons and connecting rods, converting it to a 3.5-liter engine for approximately $15,000. This retrofitting capability will help to control costs and make Indy Racing affordable for more teams.

"We have accomplished many of the goals for the Indy Racing League, which was founded to ensure the future of open-wheel, oval-track racing," George said. "I think these new engine regulations will continue to build on our program of providing opportunities for new drivers, teams and sponsors, while controlling costs and providing safe and exciting competition."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Tony George , Ross Cheever