1998 IRL AURORA V8 UPDATE Oldsmobile Aims to Extend IRL Winning Streak with More Power and Improved Reliability Orlando, Fla.; January 21, 1998 -- Fifteen weeks ago, the Indy Racing League ...
1998 IRL AURORA V8 UPDATE
Oldsmobile Aims to Extend IRL Winning Streak with More Power and Improved Reliability
Orlando, Fla.; January 21, 1998 -- Fifteen weeks ago, the Indy Racing League concluded its first year of competition with a new generation of naturally aspirated 4.0-liter engines from Oldsmobile (IRL Aurora V8) and Nissan (Infiniti Indy). Oldsmobile finished the 1997 season with a perfect record by winning every race, leading every lap, and sweeping the IRL Engine Manufacturer, Driver, Team, and Rookie championships.
But that was then -- and now the challenge is to continue the IRL Aurora V8's winning streak at the season-opening Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Presented by Aurora in Orlando, Fla., on January 24. In the three months since the IRL season finale in Las Vegas, GM engineers have continued to develop and refine the IRL Aurora V8 engine package. The results will be apparent when the green flag signals the start of the IRL's second season with production-based powerplants.
Getting Better All the Time. "Our objective is to continually improve the IRL Aurora V8," said Joe Negri, GM Motorsports IRL/Road Racing Group manager. "Our primary focus is on reliability and durability. We are also working on making it more cost-effective for engine shops to build IRL Aurora V8 engines for their customers.
"We know that the competition isn't standing still, and we anticipate that other engine manufacturers will eventually participate in the IRL series," Negri added. "The IRL Aurora V8 has established the performance standard for any manufacturer coming into the series, so we need to be prepared to introduce future enhancements to keep pace."
More Power. New optional components for the IRL Aurora V8 hold the promise of improved engine performance in the '98 season. "We haven't been sitting on our hands," said GM Motorsports engineer Ed Keating. "GM Motorsports has developed new calibrations for the electronic engine management system that will improve both driveability and horsepower. We've also released new recommendations on exhaust tuning, an induction system with improved airflow, and an optional inlet cam that has shown a reasonable increase in horsepower while maintaining reliability.
"The IRL engines typically run within a relatively narrow 2,000 rpm power band on a clear lap," Keating explained. "Consequently we haven't found a significant difference between an optimum 'short-track' and 'big-track' camshaft profile."
The Aurora Advantage. One year ago in Orlando, 19 cars started the Indy 200 -- 16 with Oldsmobile engines and three with Nissans. The entry list for this year's event shows 49 cars (including primary and back-ups) for 31 drivers. Forty-seven of the entries (96 percent) are powered by Oldsmobile engines.
"Since the holidays, there has been a flurry of orders for engine components," Negri reported. "Several teams that are not on the entry list are finalizing their plans to race in Orlando. We have a good inventory of IRL Aurora V8 parts on hand, so availability of engines and components is greatly improved over last year."
Seven Sources. In order to meet the demand for IRL Aurora V8 engines and components, seven independent engine builders have been designated as OEM suppliers in 1998 -- an increase from four in 1997. The roster of OEM Indy Aurora V8 builders includes (in alphabetical order): Brayton Engineering (Coldwater, Mich.), Comptech (Eldorado Hills, Calif.), Katech (Clinton Township, Mich.), Menard (Indianapolis), NAC (Chicago Ridge, Ill.), Roush (Livonia, Mich.), and Speedway Engine Development (Indianapolis).
As an OEM supplier, an engine builder must sell a complete IRL Aurora V8 engine built to GM specifications for the IRL-mandated price of $80,000. IRL teams can also buy engines from non-OEM builders or build their own engines in-house.
Pace Car of a Different Color. Oldsmobile's flagship Aurora luxury performance sedan will begin its third year as the Official Pace Car of the IRL series at the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World. As in previous years, the Aurora Pace Car requires no engine modifications -- its standard 250hp Aurora V8 has the performance credentials to pace an Indy car race in production trim.
The Aurora Pace Car will have a new look in 1998 with special "Pure Fire Prism" paint. This prismatic paint (which costs more than $1,000 per gallon!) changes color under varying light conditions. Thus the Aurora Pace Car can appear to be red, gold, or purple -- or multiple colors simultaneously -- depending on the direction and intensity of the light.
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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 21-Jan-1998