Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevrolet Notes for the Firestone Indy 225 * IRL Turns 100 Sunday's Firestone Indy 225 marks two milestones in the IRL IndyCar Series. It will be the series' 100th event, and the final race held at Nazareth Speedway...
Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevrolet Notes for the Firestone Indy 225
* IRL Turns 100
Sunday's Firestone Indy 225 marks two milestones in the IRL IndyCar Series. It will be the series' 100th event, and the final race held at Nazareth Speedway before the historic venue is shuttered for professional events.
GM is the most experienced and the most successful manufacturer in the IndyCar Series. GM divisions have been a part of the IRL scene since the inaugural race in Orlando, Fla., in January 1996. An Oldsmobile Aurora was the Official Pace Car for all events in the IRL's first season (except the Indianapolis 500). Oldsmobile subsequently became the series' sole American engine supplier when the IRL introduced its naturally aspirated engine formula in 1997. Chevrolet succeeded Oldsmobile as GM's standard bearer in the IRL in 2002.
In the 99 IRL races contested to date, GM engines have scored 66 victories and started on the pole 62 times - more than four times as many wins and poles as its closest rival. GM engines have won six IRL manufacturers championships, six IRL drivers championships and six IRL team championships.
* Farewell to Nazareth
GM also figures prominently in the history of open-wheel racing at Nazareth Speedway, one of the most challenging venues on the IndyCar Series schedule. During the CART era, turbocharged 2.65-liter Chevy Indy V-8 engines powered Danny Sullivan to victory at Nazareth in 1988, Emerson Fittipaldi in 1989 and 1990, Arie Luyendyk in 1991 and Bobby Rahal in 1992.
Scott Sharp won the inaugural IRL event in Nazareth with a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter Chevy engine in 2002. In last year's race, Pennzoil Panther Racing scored a runner-up finish with the then-new Gen IV version of Chevy's IndyCar powerplant. Starting seventh on the grid, driver Sam Hornish Jr. gained two positions in the first 10 laps and continued his climb in the running order as accidents and attrition took their toll. After the final restart on Lap 211, Hornish pressured Helio Castroneves relentlessly, running the fastest lap of the race at 162.717 mph on Lap 218 and finishing .1697 seconds behind Castroneves at the checkered flag.
* IRL Engine Evolution
Just as drivers, teams and chassis have changed in the IRL's first 100 races, revisions in technical regulations have spurred the evolution of the methanol-burning engines used in the IndyCar Series.
Races 1-5: The IRL used an interim chassis/engine combination in 1996 with turbocharged 2.65-liter engines. A Buick V6-based Menard engine started on the pole at the Indianapolis 500.
Races 6-34: The IRL introduced its naturally aspirated engine formula in 1997, specifying 4.0-liter production-based powerplants. The first engine developed by GM Racing for IRL competition was the 4.0-liter Aurora Indy V-8. While not a "stock-block" engine, the Aurora Indy V-8 was based on the architecture and technical specifications of the production 4.0-liter Aurora V-8. Limited to a maximum of 10,500 rpm by IRL regulations, development of the 4.0-liter engine reached its zenith in 1999 when GM Racing's "kit engine" used by 31 of the 33 starters in the Indianapolis 500 delivered 730 horsepower. Maximum engine speed was subsequently reduced to 10,000 rpm for the remainder of the 1999 season.
Races 35-71: In order to keep racing speeds in check, IRL officials reduced maximum engine displacement to 3.5 liters and raised the rev limit to 10,700 rpm at the start of the 2000 season. Engine output subsequently climbed to 640 horsepower. GM Racing introduced an all-new Chevy Indy V-8 engine for the 2002 season that was lighter and smaller than the IRL Aurora V-8 that preceded it. The new Chevy Indy V-8 won 14 of 15 events in 2002 and swept the IRL championships.
Races 72-90: The engine rules were again revised for the 2003 season to allow smaller, lighter purpose-built racing powerplants with technical features not shared with a manufacturer's production motors, including gear-driven camshafts and two fuel injectors per cylinder. As engine development continued and speeds climbed again, the maximum rpm was lowered to 10,300 rpm. The fourth-generation Chevy Indy V-8 was introduced in August 2003, winning three of the last five events.
Races 91-100: Maximum engine displacement was reduced to 3.0 liters effective at this year's Indianapolis 500. This reduction was achieved by shortening the Chevy Indy V-8's crankshaft stroke and making complementary changes in the connecting rods and pistons. Development of the 3.0-liter Chevy Indy V-8 is an ongoing process that seeks to optimize the tuning of the engine package within the strict IRL rules.
* Chevrolet Drivers on Nazareth Speedway
ALEX BARRON, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
"Nazareth Speedway is one of my favorite places to race because it is such a one-of-a-kind track. With it being a 1-mile oval with different turns, it allows for some very exciting racing. It's a shame to see that this will be the last time that we visit, and hopefully, we can leave with a good memory."
ED CARPENTER, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
"Nazareth Speedway is the trickiest oval we run on because each corner is different. It is a very unique track compared to all of the others we race on. This will be my first time racing there in a rear-engine car, so I'm excited to see how it works out. Pit stops are going to play a big part in deciding who wins the race, and I'm sure the team will be up to the challenge."
JAQUES LAZIER, Patrick Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
"We're getting stronger and stronger. We've got the chassis now where it's working well and we're able to utilize all of the Chevy power. We're going to keep moving forward. I'm definitely looking forward to going to Nazareth. We had a good car (at Pikes Peak), and that tells us that we had a good mechanical setup. Nazareth is all about mechanical grip so we'll try to continue this momentum."
* Racing Across America
Chevrolet is racing to win on the ovals this weekend. In addition to the Chevy Indy V-8 IRL cars at Nazareth Speedway, Chevy is competing in three NASCAR series events in Bristol, Tenn.: Craftsman Truck, Busch Series, and Nextel Cup. Chevrolet is the only manufacturer that currently competes in America's top stock car, open-wheel, drag racing and road racing series.
* About GM
General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, employs about 325,000 people globally. Founded in 1908, GM has been the global automotive sales leader since 1931. GM today has manufacturing operations in 32 countries and its vehicles are sold in 192 countries. In 2003, GM sold nearly 8.6 million cars and trucks, about 15 percent of the global vehicle market. GM's global headquarters is at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. More information on GM and its products can be found on the company's consumer website at www.gm.com.