IRL: Motegi: Chevy preview

Chevy ready to reprise Twin Ring Motegi victory. MOTEGI, Japan - While the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series will be making its first visit to Twin Ring Motegi on April 11-13, Chevrolet already has a winning record on the Japanese speedway.

Chevy ready to reprise Twin Ring Motegi victory.

MOTEGI, Japan - While the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series will be making its first visit to Twin Ring Motegi on April 11-13, Chevrolet already has a winning record on the Japanese speedway. Chevrolet driver Mike Skinner won a non-points NASCAR Winston Cup event on the 1.5-mile oval on Nov. 22, 1998, driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo prepared by Richard Childress Racing. It was a landmark day for Chevy in Japan as Jeff Gordon finished second while Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. competed against each other for the first time in Winston Cup cars. Earnhardt Jr. finished sixth, with his legendary father eighth.

The Chevrolets that will contest the inaugural Japan Indy 300 are a far cry from the stock cars that carried the red Bowtie to the winner's circle at Motegi in 1998. The IndyCar series' cars have open wheels, wings, and 3.5-liter methanol-burning DOHC racing engines. The competition will be driving Dallaras and G-Forces powered by Honda and Toyota, not Ford Thunderbirds. Instead of the venerable Chevy small-block V8, the Chevrolet contingent will be powered by the new 2003 Chevy Indy V8 racing engine - an engine that is the heir to Chevy's rich racing heritage in all forms of motorsports.

"We expect to take another step forward in our program of continuous improvement for the Chevy Indy V8 in Motegi," said GM Racing Group Manager Joe Negri. "We are on schedule with our development program, and while racing always has unpredictable elements, we anticipate a good performance by Chevrolet teams."

Reigning IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. tested the 2002 version of the Chevy Indy V8 at Motegi last year in Pennzoil Panther Racing's Dallara. That test demonstrated that the IRL formula is well suited to the facility.

"The track resembles Homestead-Miami Speedway, with the same 1.5-mile length and similar shallow banking in the turns," Negri noted. "At the preceding event in Phoenix, the nature of the track and a number of incidents did not give a clear picture of the progress we have made with the Chevy Indy V8 program since the first race. With cool temperatures in the long-range forecast for the Japanese round, we expect both horsepower and handling to play significant roles in deciding the outcome in Motegi."

Although Chevrolet is widely recognized as America's brand, Chevrolet vehicles are sold around the world - including in Japan. Chevrolet models sold in Japan include Corvette, TrailBlazer and Astro van. The best-selling Chevy in Japan is the Cruze, a small family wagon that does not have a U.S. counterpart. Classic Chevrolets of the '50s and '60s are highly prized by Japanese car collectors as icons of American culture.

General Motors has had a presence in Japan since 1927. While GM competes globally with its Asian rivals, the company also has strong ties to the Japanese automotive industry. The GM Group includes alliances with Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Isuzu Motors Ltd. and Suzuki Motor Corp. GM also has technology collaborations with Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., and vehicle manufacturing ventures with Toyota.

On the race track, however, corporate collaborations and alliances are put aside. Chevy will be racing to win in Motegi - a commitment that has made Chevrolet the most successful manufacturer in American motorsports.

General Motors (NYSE: GM), the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, designs, builds and markets cars and trucks worldwide, and has been the global automotive sales leader since 1931. GM employs about 350,000 people around the world. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.

-gm racing-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Mike Skinner , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing