IRL: Indy Aurora V8 Update

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE INDY AURORA V8 UPDATE: 100 ENGINES FOR INDY 500 Lansing, Mich. -- As the countdown to the Indianapolis 500 begins, development of the new production-based 4.0-liter Indy Aurora V8 is accelerating.



Lansing, Mich. -- As the countdown to the Indianapolis 500 begins, development of the new production-based 4.0-liter Indy Aurora V8 is accelerating. Oldsmobile and GM Motorsports engineers are working with independent engine builders, IRL teams, and aftermarket parts suppliers to ensure that the new racing engine will be thoroughly tested and readily available for the Memorial Day classic on May 25. "By the second round of the series in Phoenix, 75 Indy Aurora V8 engine kits will have been delivered," said Joe Negri, GM Motorsports IRL and road racing group manager. "Our goal is to have 100 complete engines ready by the start of practice for the Indy 500.

"This number represents nearly twice as many engines as we had originally planned to build by that date," Negri noted. "We anticipate that at least 25 drivers will make qualifying attempts in Oldsmobile-powered cars at the Speedway -- and there may be more, depending on how many back-up cars make qualifying runs.

"Our development team is working on the normal reliability issues that come up during extended track and dynamometer tests," Negri reported. "We are addressing these problems, and we are going to have them resolved before the Indy 500. We will continue to update parts as required, and we have a program in place to deliver revised parts in time for the race."

Oldsmobile and GM Motorsports designed and developed the basic "building blocks" of the Aurora Indy V8 -- the aluminum block and sump assembly, the 32-valve cylinder heads, and the covers for the dual overhead cams and camshaft drive system. A worldwide group of specialist suppliers produces internal components such as the crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods, pumps, and valvetrain. Independent builders assemble the engines, which are owned by IRL teams. The roster of Indy Aurora V8 engine builders includes Brayton Engineering, Comptech Machine, Katech, Menard, NAC Engines, Rocketsports, Roush, and Speedway Engine Development.

"Yes, there have been some engine failures," Negri continued. "That is certainly not unexpected when you are testing a new racing engine. Some people do not understand that a 4.0-liter IRL engine running at 10,500 rpm has a piston speed of over 5000 feet per minute; that is higher piston speed than in a typical turbocharged 2.65-liter engine used in the IRL series last year. Designing an engine that can perform reliably for extended periods under these operating conditions is not a simple technical exercise. We are pushing the limits in some areas.

"Unlike some Indy car engine programs in which a manufacturer works with one or two selected teams and a very limited number of cars to develop a new engine, we are working with a dozen teams and eight different builders in our first year -- and we have done much of our testing in public," Negri noted. "One of the benefits of this aggressive development program is the huge amount of feedback that we receive from teams and engine builders in a very short time. Aurora V8-powered Indy cars have already logged thousands of miles of testing."

In the first round of tire tests at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart ran the unofficial fastest lap at 216.08 mph in Team Menard's G Force Aurora on Firestone tires. John Paul, Jr. ran 215.06 mph in PDM Racing's Dallara Aurora on Goodyear tires using an Indy Aurora V8 that had accumulated over 600 miles in testing since its last rebuild.

"It has taken tremendous commitment and effort by our engineers, suppliers, and development partners to bring the Indy Aurora V8 engine program to its current level," Negri concluded. "The results of their diligence and dedication will be apparent at the Indianapolis 500."

The Indy Aurora V8 engine made its competition debut at the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World on January 25, the first race contested under the IRL's new engine formula. The Indy Aurora V8, which is based on the production Aurora V8 that powers Oldsmobile's performance luxury sedan, won the pole, won the race, and led every lap. Sixteen of the 19 starters used Oldsmobile's naturally aspirated 32-valve DOHC racing engine -- including the ten fastest qualifiers.

The next event for the Indy Aurora V8 will be the Dura-Lube 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 23.

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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 14-Mar-1997

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart