Chevrolet to Return to IndyCar Racing in 2012 with Twin-Turbo V6
Widely known for its participation and success in NASCAR, Chevrolet also has a storied past in open-wheel racing, with 104 victories (including seven Indianapolis 500s) and six driver’s championships under its belt. The brand went on hiatus from fenderless competition after supplying engines to IndyCar from 2002 to 2005 (that followed another hiatus after a 1986–1993 stint), but the bow tie will again roar during the 2012 IndyCar season. That roar, however, will not come from an iconic Chevy V-8: The 2012 IndyCar regs have written off high-revving eight-cylinder engines in favor of turbocharged V-6 powerplants with a maximum displacement of 2.2 liters.
Built and developed in conjunction with Ilmor Engineering of Plymouth, Michigan, the twin-turbo Chevy mills feature an aluminum block and heads and direct injection. They burn the required E85 fuel to deliver output of 550–700 hp, depending on the circuit-based levels of tune. Thus far, three IndyCar teams—including Andretti Autosport, Panther Racing, and Penske Racing—have signed on to use Chevy power. More detailed engine specs will be released at a later date. Chevy’s announcement should stoke the rivalry fires with Honda and Lotus, the two other confirmed engine suppliers for 2012.
In addition to the new engines for 2012, IndyCar racers will debut fresh bodywork and chassis next season. Constructed once again by the Italian firm Dallara Automobili, all 2012 Indy race cars will look identical (as pictured above). But 2013 will bring teams the option of developing their own aero packages—they can be sourced from any company and include the front/rear wings, sidepods, and engine cover—for the Dallara chassis. They’ll have to be submitted for IndyCar approval and there will be a cap on aero-kit cost, but it should spice up the racing and we welcome any move to bring individual team innovation back into racing. We’re looking forward to seeing the new cars dicing it up firsthand next summer, when the series returns to Detroit’s Belle Isle.
By Jon Yanca