CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Racing Moves to New Tech Center

Moving Day for Mercedes-Benz Racing New Ilmor Tech Center Offices Open MONTVALE, N.J. (July 13, 1998) -- Mercedes-Benz’s Trackside Support Engineers are doing a little extra packing in preparation for the Molson Indy Toronto at ...

Moving Day for Mercedes-Benz Racing New Ilmor Tech Center Offices Open

MONTVALE, N.J. (July 13, 1998) -- Mercedes-Benz’s Trackside Support Engineers are doing a little extra packing in preparation for the Molson Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place July 17-19. In addition to filling suitcases for the trip to Canada, they’ll be loading boxes for the move to the new Ilmor Engineering Technology Center in Plymouth, Mich. While the rest of the team heads to Toronto, a skeleton crew will stay behind to set up Ilmor’s new U.S. home.

"Although it won’t be 100-percent operational for a few months, construction of the new Tech Center is complete, and we’re ready to move into the offices," said Paul Ray, vice president of Ilmor, the race engine design and manufacturing arm of Mercedes-Benz. "Ian Hawkins, who is in charge of the project for us, and our contractor Campbell/Manix, have done an outstanding job. The building is a testimony to the strength of our partnership with Mercedes-Benz."

Work began last October on the 26,000 square-foot Technology Center, which is 20 miles west of downtown Detroit. The exterior structure was completed by late April of this year, and finishing work, such as installing windows, painting, and laying carpeting, continued through May and June. But the job is far from over.

In addition to putting the final touches on the offices, Hawkins is currently working on outfitting the Tech Center’s new 18,000 square-foot engine assembly and rebuild workshop, which, when it opens later this fall, will consolidate Ilmor’s American engineering and business operations, as well as its parts and service departments, under one roof.

"The initial premise for the Tech Center was that it would be a real showcase for Ilmor and Mercedes-Benz, and it’s turning out just that way," said Hawkins. "Thanks to a relatively mild and dry winter, we’re pretty close to our original timeline for the building. We should be fully operational by the first of November."

The new machine shop will include two Computer Numeric Control (CNC) milling machines from Haas Automation, Inc., of Oxnard, Calif., a CNC lathe, standard lathe and milling machines, eight engine assembly bays, two standard dynamometer cells and a transient dyno.

One of the first items Hawkins and his crew will set up in the new offices in Plymouth will be a television to monitor the Molson Indy race telecast (ABC, 3 p.m., EDT) during the move. Hawkins gave up his duties as a Mercedes-Benz Trackside Support Engineer to concentrate on the building project but he still likes to keep tabs on Mark Blundell, whom he helped to victory at Toronto last year, as well as the rest of the five-team, eight-driver Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Team.

"I’m really enjoying this new challenge, and I’ve been so busy I haven’t had much of a chance to miss being at the track," said Hawkins. "But, at the end of the day, no matter what job you do, this business is about racing."

Mercedes-Benz Molson Indy Toronto Notes

Motorola Reynard/Mercedes-Benz driver Mark Blundell is the defending champion of the Molson Indy Toronto, having scored his second career CART victory there last year.

During qualifying for last year’s Molson Indy, Mercedes-Benz swept the front row of the starting grid, powering Dario Franchitti to the first pole position of his career and Mark Blundell to the outside pole.

Blundell also turned the fastest lap of the race in 1997 and led all but two laps of the 95-lap event.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti , Mark Blundell