CHAMPCAR/CART: Talented Detroit Residents Key to Mercedes-Benz Racing

MONTVALE, N.J. (June 2, 2000) -- More than 50 talented and motivated residents of the Detroit area are key to Mercedes-Benz's CART FedEx Championship Series racing engine program. Together, they make up Ilmor Engineering Inc., and from their...

MONTVALE, N.J. (June 2, 2000) -- More than 50 talented and motivated residents of the Detroit area are key to Mercedes-Benz's CART FedEx Championship Series racing engine program. Together, they make up Ilmor Engineering Inc., and from their home base at the Ilmor Technology Center in Plymouth, Mich., they are responsible for the service, maintenance and operation of the Mercedes-Benz IC108F Champ Car engine. "We're more like a typical American sports team than we are an engineering firm," said Paul Ray, the vice president and "head coach" who will lead Ilmor June 16-18 at the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit at the 2.346-mile Raceway on Belle Isle. "We have talented people who are motivated to do whatever it takes to win. I suppose we're no different than a football or baseball team in that regard. "It takes a lot of personal sacrifice to get to this level. We wouldn't do it if we didn't think we could win every time we race. You've got to have people who are confident and want the checkered flag more than anything." Ilmor produces the Mercedes-Benz IC108F turbocharged V8 racing engine used by Mo Nunn Racing's Tony Kanaan, PacWest Racing's Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell, Bettenhausen Motorsports' Michel Jourdain Jr., and Arciero Project Racing's Luiz Garcia Jr.

A team of 10 engineers attends the 20 CART races throughout the year to oversee the operation of the engines at the track, while a staff of approximately 40 works on service and maintenance of the IC108F at the Ilmor Technology Center. While the work of the maintenance team goes on outside the view of the fans, it has a huge impact on the success of Mercedes-Benz's CART program.

"The Technology Center staff has the same passion for motor racing as our track-side engineers," Ray said. "And their attention to detail and the quality of their work is what makes all the difference in the world.

"After each event, we go back and share the good points and the bad points with them. That way we can implement changes or simply give credit when improvements are made to the engine that result in increased reliability and performance."

Each new engine is manufactured in Brixworth, England, at Ilmor Engineering Ltd. It is sent to Plymouth in kit form, where it is assembled and put through extensive reliability and horsepower testing on one of Ilmor's two high-tech, state-of-the-art dynamometers. After a final inspection, the engine is shipped to the team for use on the race track.

The goal of Ilmor's Technology Center staff is to deliver a level of quality consistently, because each engine must be within one percent of Ilmor's specs before it is deemed acceptable for use by a Mercedes-Benz powered team. Each engine is returned to Ilmor for a teardown inspection after no more than 500 miles (the maximum length of a CART event). The components of the block, such as the pistons and crank, the cylinder heads, fuel system, electrical system and oil and water pumps are disassembled, inspected and returned to race-ready condition. Any necessary machining is done at this stage as well. Once the engine has been reassembled, it is put on the dyno for testing and the entire process begins again. In fact, Ilmor staff will perform this cycle more than 350 times during the season. DEDICATED ILMOR STAFF

Ilmor's staff in Plymouth typically work from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week to keep Mo Nunn Racing, PacWest Racing, Bettenhausen Motorsports and Arciero Project Racing equipped with race-ready Mercedes-Benz IC108F engines. Moreover, Ilmor's track-side engineers average more than 200 days on the road each year at test sessions and races with Mercedes' four CART teams.

Ilmor Engineering Ltd., was founded by Mario Illien and Paul Morgan in 1984. Ilmor also designed the FO110J V10 engine for the West McLaren Mercedes team in the Formula One World Championship. The FO110J V10 powers two-time defending Formula One World Champion Mika Hakkinen and his teammate, David Coulthard.

Formula One will return to the United States after a nine-year absence on Sept. 24, 2000, for the United States Grand Prix at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A new infield road course has been purpose-built for the event.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Paul Morgan , Luiz Garcia Jr. , Mo Nunn