IndyCar President Jay Frye says that the prospect of a third manufacturer joining Honda and Chevrolet as engine suppliers is moving from a “luxury” to a “necessity” with the ongoing growth in series entries.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm — we talk to lots of them every day,” Frye told the media at Barber Motorsports Park of the series’ discussions with OEMs. “A lot of what’s going on with it is timing, because it’s a huge commitment. They have to build engines. The ones that we’re currently talking to want to build their own engines, so that’s a key indicator when you talk to somebody about their commitment. So we’re sorting through that.
“Part of what’s going on is you talk about the five-year plan and the fields are getting bigger and the teams are coming in, at some point it’s not going to become a luxury, it’s going to become a necessity as we grow. We’re not quite to that point yet, but we’re getting close, so we’re looking forward to who’s next.”
Frye acknowledged that adding a third engine could affect the timeline of the planned switch from the current 2.2-liter formula to 2.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engines, originally intended to be implemented for 2021. The new engines are projected to generate at least 100 more horsepower than the current 2.2-liter platform, pushing power over 900hp with push-to-pass.
“Right now everything is full speed ahead. But again, it depends on the timing of all this stuff,” Frye said. “The 2.4, we’re confident in everything we’ve got organized with that. That was with the partnership of Chevrolet and Honda to come up with that platform. Right now it’s ’21 through ’26. It can move either way I guess at this point still. Part of that will be the next OEM partner, what their input would be or how they would want to go about it. Obviously, Chevrolet and Honda are very keen to have another come in, so if another one came in and it was a delay or some sort of different situation, anything like that could be possible.”
Frye noted that pressure in engine supply prompted by growth is a gratifying problem to have.
“We’ve got a really great depth of field here,” he said. “Two years ago at St. Petersburg there were eight teams and 21 cars. This year there were 12 teams and 24 cars. So that’s something we’ve worked really hard on — recruiting new ownership, new blood to come into the sport. We’re really excited about that. There should be a couple more coming hopefully the next year, year and a half, so we think we’re going in the right direction.”