GARDENA, Calif. (April 27, 2001) -- Infiniti, the luxury division of Nissan North America, Inc., has signed an agreement with TWR Group to complete the development of the new 3.5-liter V8 Infiniti racing engine and to provide technical support for...
GARDENA, Calif. (April 27, 2001) -- Infiniti, the luxury division of Nissan North America, Inc., has signed an agreement with TWR Group to complete the development of the new 3.5-liter V8 Infiniti racing engine and to provide technical support for the Indy Racing program. Infiniti hopes the partnership will lead to the company becoming the first Japanese engine manufacturer to win the Indianapolis 500 and the Indy Racing Northern Light Series Championship.
"Infiniti is delighted to have TWR join our design team," said Steve Kight, director of marketing and motorsports for Infiniti Division. "We are sure their expertise in Indy Racing, as well as their experience in so many other international motorsports programs over the years, will bring further success and a new focus to our expanding program."
TWR's Race Engine Division played a key role in the final preparations of the all-new Infiniti Indy 35A, which successfully debuted at the Indy Racing Northern Light Series season opener in Phoenix on March 18. The design work and bench testing necessary to prepare the engine for oval-track racing was completed at the TWR engine facility in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, England.
"We are excited about the opportunity, with Infiniti, to win the Indy 500 and the championship," said Tom Walkinshaw, chairman of TWR Group. "We look forward to delivering the success that Infiniti is so committed to achieving. Under the tutelage of Tony George, for whom I have the greatest respect, the Indy Racing Series has grown into an internationally recognized championship. Its stature is reflected in the strong interest by an increasing number of manufacturers and leading teams."
The purpose-built 35A racing engine represents the worldwide resources available to Infiniti. The engine was first designed as a 5.0-liter version by engineers at Nissan Motor Company, Ltd. in Japan for use in the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans. The design was then modified for the 3.5-liter formula outlined by the Indy Racing League and for the specific characteristics of oval-track racing. With European-based TWR handling the current development, and the continued involvement of the Japanese engineering staff, the Infiniti Motorsports design team is truly a global effort.
From the design table to the dynamometer, the 35A engine was thoroughly tested before being sent to the United States for on-track testing. Infiniti customers Cheever Indy Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing found the new engine to be more powerful, smaller, and lighter during their initial testing. Eddie Cheever Jr. was one of the first to test the engine and finished ninth with the new powerplant at the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami.
"Testing started later than we expected with the new engine, but we were pleased to find it was strong right out of the box," said Eddie Cheever Jr., who drives the No. 51 Excite@Home Infiniti. "The lower center of gravity allows us more leeway in fine-tuning the setup, but we needed miles to gather the necessary data to work with these new handling characteristics. We have made some serious gains in the last two weeks and look forward to getting the Infiniti engine on the podium at Atlanta."
The Infiniti lineup at the Atlanta Motor Speedway night race on April 28 will not only include 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr., but also Robbie Buhl in the No. 24 Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Infiniti. While Infiniti has campaigned solely with these two drivers since June 2000, the engine manufacturer looks forward to adding more drivers and teams to its stable for 2001.
Indy Racing veteran Scott Goodyear is already slated to drive an Infiniti at the Indianapolis 500 for Cheever Indy Racing, and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing filed for a second entry at Indy as well -- bringing Infiniti's count at The Brickyard to four. Technical support and engine rebuilds for Infiniti's existing teams, and any future teams that choose to use Infiniti engines, will be handled at TWR's existing facility in Valparaiso, Indiana.