OLDSMOBILE AIMS FOR SECOND UNDEFEATED SEASON IN IRL FINALE IRL Aurora V8 Races for 19th Straight IRL Victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Las Vegas - There are no sure bets in auto racing, but the odds will be in Oldsmobile's favor when the...
OLDSMOBILE AIMS FOR SECOND UNDEFEATED SEASON IN IRL FINALE IRL Aurora V8 Races for 19th Straight IRL Victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas - There are no sure bets in auto racing, but the odds will be in Oldsmobile's favor when the Pep Boys Indy Racing League comes to Las Vegas for the season finale of the 11-race series. In the last 21 months of IRL competition, one engine has powered every winning driver: Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8.
Oldsmobile's entry into Indy car racing was a gamble, but America's most experienced car company hit the jackpot with the IRL Aurora V8. Although Oldsmobile had won championships in drag racing, stock car racing, and road racing, the General Motors division had no previous experience in open-wheel competition. Now two years later, Oldsmobile owns the longest active winning streak in a major motorsports series.
Oldsmobile is aiming to extend the IRL Aurora V8's record to 19 consecutive victories at the Las Vegas 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 11. Coming into the final IRL event of the 1998 season, IRL Aurora V8 engines have won every race, won every pole, and led 99.4% of the laps in IRL competition since the series introduced its new generation of naturally aspirated Indy cars two years ago. Oldsmobile has already wrapped up its second consecutive IRL Manufacturers Championship. The drivers' title will go to one of three Oldsmobile racers: points-leader Kenny Brack, defending champion Tony Stewart, or 1997 runner-up Davey Hamilton.
The Indy Racing League's return to Las Vegas is a homecoming for the IRL Aurora V8. Oldsmobile unveiled the IRL Aurora V8 in a gala introduction at the MGM Grand Hotel on September 14, 1996 - although the engine had yet to run. Six days later, the new engine was fired for the first time in a dyno cell in Michigan. The racing version of the 4.0-liter Aurora V8 made its competition debut in January 1997 at Walt Disney World Speedway, where Eddie Cheever, Jr. kicked off Oldsmobile's 100th birthday celebration with the company's first Indy car victory.
Since that historic win at the Magic Kingdom, 55 different drivers have competed in IRL races with Oldsmobile engines. Eleven racers have taken the IRL Aurora V8 to the winner's circle, and six have won poles. Oldsmobile drivers led 3,481 consecutive laps before the rival Infiniti Indy led an IRL event. Oldsmobile racers have completed 77,695 racing miles - a distance equal to three laps around the Earth's equator!
In contrast to the restrictive engine leasing programs that prevail in some open-wheel series, IRL teams can buy, sell, rebuild, and modify their engines. Oldsmobile and Nissan engines are interchangeable among the three chassis used in IRL competition, and both are offered at the IRL-mandated price of $80,000. Moreover, Oldsmobile does not have any "factory" teams; every team using the IRL Aurora V8 engine receives the same technical and marketing support. In this open market, the IRL Aurora V8's winning combination of performance, packaging, and proven reliability has made Oldsmobile the overwhelming choice of IRL teams. In the ten races contested this season, an average of 94 percent of the starters relied on IRL Aurora V8 powerplants. Oldsmobile has produced more than 400 blocks since the start of the program to meet the demand for IRL Aurora V8 engines.
Oldsmobile supplies the major components of the IRL Aurora V8 - the block assembly, cylinder heads, cam covers, and front covers - which were designed and developed by engineers at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Mich. Independent engine builders assemble and maintain IRL Aurora V8 engines for IRL teams; these builders are free to modify and substitute internal engine components at their discretion within the limits of the IRL rules. Six builders have been represented in the IRL winner's circle: Brayton Engineering (5 wins), Katech (4 wins), Team Menard (4 wins), Roush Technologies (3 wins), NAC Engines (1 win), and Speedway Engine Development (1 win).
The success of the IRL Aurora V8 on the race track mirrors Oldsmobile's recent success in the showroom. Oldsmobile's retail sales for the month of May were up 39% over one year ago. Despite 54 days of lost production during the UAW strike, Oldsmobile retail sales for the 1998 calendar year are up almost six percent over 1997. By spotlighting the competitive advantages of the world-class Aurora V8, Oldsmobile is reasserting its leadership in powertrain technology.