The best news to come out of IndyCar’s engine rules press conference on Saturday was the vote of confidence from Honda and Chevrolet.
In the days where CEOs come and go like sponsorships and stability in motorsports is shaky at best, two of IndyCar’s most important partners endorsed the new engine formula. Both manufacturers are only signed through 2020 but it sounds like they intend to be around through 2026.
“We love IndyCar racing,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for General Motors. “It’s part of our history and heritage and we love the ‘up on the wheel’ racing that IndyCar represents.
“And the Indy 500 is an iconic race that we’ve won nine times as Chevrolet and five others with Oldsmobile. We like the platform IndyCar gives us and we like this stability in the rules package.”
Chevrolet came back to IndyCar in 2012 while Honda is celebrating its 25th anniversary of competing in America’s top level of open-wheel racing.
“We said that all along that IndyCar racing we think is the purest form of racing, open-wheel racing in general,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development. “But at Honda as a company, we had been involved in open-wheel racing since really the formation of our company, specifically here in North America to run open-wheel cars is the reason why Honda Performance Development was even founded.
“We have been continuously in the series, we made an announcement in 1993, HPD and our involvement in IndyCar are linked. We think this is a very relevant series; it’s a way that you can highlight the technologies that is the future of our road car.”
Both manufacturers are hopeful the new 2.4-liter, twin turbo V-6 will attract another player.
“We’d like to see more OEMs and more competition is better,” said Campbell, whose teams have captured five of the past six driver titles and all six manufacturers’ championships. “That’s something we advocate. For manufacturers to get into a series, it takes awhile. The great news is that the series is having those dialogues, see where this thing goes.
“We’re very fortunate to have new teams this year. There’s options next year and the year after that. As we grow, it’s going to become even more important that we have a third to participate.
St. Cyr, with victories at Indy in five of the last six races, welcomes competition.
“I’ll say that, small displacement turbo engines. It’s very important to us to have this new formula,“ he said. “Obviously we’ve been working on this current formula, which HPD — the current engine formula, there wasn’t competition, and we welcomed competition.
“We think this engine is a good platform to bring in not just Chevy and Honda but other manufacturers, as well. We look forward to competition. We think this is a really good formula.”
“I want to thank Jay and also the folks working with Honda, really coming up with a formula that looks like it’s going to work. We’re very happy about this higher horsepower concept. We put it more in the drivers’ hands, which is what we want, make it more exciting for the fans, more interesting for the manufacturers, as well.”