LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Oldsmobile reached another milepost in its Indy car engine program today with a successful test of the new 3.5-liter version of the IRL Aurora V8 that will compete in the Indy Racing League series in 2000. With smaller displacement and a higher rpm range than the 4.0-liter Oldsmobile engines that have dominated IRL competition for the last three seasons, the new 3.5-liter IRL Aurora V8s completed 945 laps on the challenging one-mile Walt Disney World Speedway oval without a single reported mechanical problem. Nine of the ten drivers who participated in the first day of the scheduled two-day open test used Oldsmobile engines, posting the seven fastest speeds. Reigning IRL champion Greg Ray topped the speed chart with a 21.736-second lap at 165.624 mph in Team Menard's new 2000 Glidden Oldsmobile-Dallara. Scott Goodyear was second fastest at 165.494 mph in Pennzoil Panther Racing's 2000 Oldsmobile-Dallara, followed by Robby McGehee in Treadway Racing's 1999 Oldsmobile-G Force at 164.639 mph. The throaty roar of last season's 4.0-liter engines was replaced by the high-pitched shriek of the new-generation Oldsmobile motors. With new 180-degree crankshafts, new camshaft profiles, and revised firing orders, the higher-revving Oldsmobile engines brought a stirring new sound to the IRL open-wheel series. "Once you get the new engine up speed, it's very smooth," said Ray. "When you first hear the new exhaust sound, you'd swear the car is going 50 mph faster!" "It's what you expect an Indy car to sound like," noted Scott Sharp after lapping the three-turn oval at 163 mph in Kelley Racing's new Delphi Oldsmobile Dallara. "The new engines are proving to be a great package. They're strong, and I don't think it will be too long before we're close to the power we had before with the bigger engines. The power band is a little narrower than last year's 4-liter engine, and the new motor really likes to run up high." "The 3.5-liter engine package is proving to be very reliable," reported Scott Goodyear. "This is only our second time out with a 3.5-liter. We just ran 375 miles and we've had no issues whatsoever with the engine." Although the reduction in engine displacement from 4.0 liters to 3.5 liters has trimmed engine output by approximately 50 horsepower, Goodyear and Ray were within seven tenths of a second of Sharp's pole-winning time at the 1999 Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway. "We're not that far away from last year's pole time, and we may even beat it when we come back here to qualify," Goodyear predicted. "That shows that the engine development has come along faster than everyone thought. The Firestone tires are working superbly, and the car manufacturers have done a good job." GM engineers and IRL teams have tested 3.5-liter versions of the IRL Aurora V8 privately since mid-summer. The open test at Walt Disney World marked the public debut of the engines that will compete in the ten-race IRL series in 2000. "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." Four independent Oldsmobile engine builders were represented at the open test - 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 noted. "They accelerated the development of the new engine package and provided valuable input as we developed our recommended engine specification." Coming into the 2000 season, Oldsmobile has a perfect 29-0 record in IRL competition. Open testing will continue on January 5-6 at Walt Disney World Speedway, where the new season will kick off with the Delphi Indy 200 on Saturday, January 29.
TOP FIVE TEST SPEEDS - Friday, December 10, 1999 Driver Entrant Engine Speed Laps 1. Greg Ray Team Menard Oldsmobile 165.624 mph 91 2. Scott Goodyear Panther Racing Oldsmobile 165.494 150 3. Robby McGehee Treadway Racing Oldsmobile 164.639 108 4. Tyce Carlson Immke Racing Oldsmobile 164.429 51 5. Mark Dismore Kelley Racing Oldsmobile 163.823 157