Hot Rod Heart: Chevy Indy V8's California Connection FONTANA, Calif., March 20, 2002 -- The new Chevy Indy V8 racing engine was designed in Detroit by GM Racing engineers, but its roots reach to the dusty dry lakes and abandoned drag strips of...
Hot Rod Heart: Chevy Indy V8's California Connection
FONTANA, Calif., March 20, 2002 -- The new Chevy Indy V8 racing engine was designed in Detroit by GM Racing engineers, but its roots reach to the dusty dry lakes and abandoned drag strips of southern California. The Indy Racing League's inaugural Yamaha Indy 400 at California Speedway on March 24 will be a virtual homecoming for Chevrolet's latest Indy car powerplant. Specialists located throughout southern California manufacture many of the Chevy Indy V8's major components to GM Racing specifications.
The Chevy Indy V8 is the spiritual descendant of the small-block Chevrolet V8, an engine that revolutionized American motorsports in 1955 with its appealing combination of light weight, compact size, high specific output and solid reliability. While the venerable small-block Chevy V8 remains the cornerstone of the high-performance industry, Chevrolet has expanded its engineering universe in 2002 with the successful introduction of the methanol-burning Chevy Indy V8 in IRL competition. Chevrolet engines swept the first two races of the season, powering Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves to victories in Miami and Phoenix respectively.
"The southern California motorsports industry has played a key role in the development of Chevrolet racing engines since the '50s," said GM Racing engineer Dick Amacher. "These specialist suppliers are participating in the continuing development of the Chevy Indy V8, as well as the Chevrolet engines used in NASCAR, NHRA drag racing, road racing and other series where Chevrolet competes."
More than 2,200 individual components are required to assemble a Chevy Indy V8 engine. In accordance with IRL regulations, GM Racing offers a complete engine kit at the IRL-specified price of $89,000. GM Racing provides technical assistance and engineering support to IRL teams and engine builders who assemble, dyno test and maintain Chevrolet Indy car engines.
"The Chevy Indy V8 engine was developed primarily in the United States with support from component manufacturers in California," Amacher noted. "The list includes J.E. Pistons in Huntington Beach, valves from Del West Engineering in Valencia, crankshafts from Bryant Racing in Anaheim, and connecting rods from Carrillo Industries in San Clemente, to name just a few.
"We work very hard with our suppliers both in the United States and around the world to take advantage of the expertise that has been developed over many decades," Amacher continued. "These longstanding relationships contribute to Chevrolet's success across the spectrum of motorsports."
These components will be put to the test in the IRL's first visit to California Speedway. The 400-mile race is second only to the Indianapolis 500 in length, and the 2.0-mile track puts a premium on horsepower.
The state-of-the-art superspeedway stands not far from the site of the defunct Fontana drag strip, where an earlier generation of racers competed with their souped-up Chevys and homebuilt dragsters. While the technology of speed has changed dramatically since those early days, the spirit of the sport endures in southern California, the birthplace of hot rodding and the spiritual home of the Chevy Indy V8.