With a new 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 hybrid engine formula being readied for introduction in 2023, NTT IndyCar Series owner Roger Penske has been lobbying his contacts within the auto industry to join Chevrolet and Honda to become its third powertrain supplier.
In recent years, talks between IndyCar and Audi, Ferrari, Hyundai, Lamborghini, and Porsche have come to light, and there are as many, if not more, that have been kept under wraps. While Penske wouldn’t be drawn on the manufacturers in discussion with IndyCar today, he says talks on the subject are ongoing.
“We’ve got people that are very interested,” Penske told RACER. “COVID slowed some of it down, but I would say at the moment, it’s a matter of looking at all the ultimate details. But the bottom line is yes, my goal is to have another manufacturer ready for us when we come out with the new hybrid engines.”
Calling back to the 1990s CART IndyCar Series era when Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and a few other brands spend vast sums on racing and marketing programs that lifted the series’ profile, Penske has similar hopes for the future if and when IndyCar can grow its engine supplier base.
“A real plus for us with another manufacturer is the money that they can put in can be significant,” Penske said. “And it’s not always rewarding the teams, but the publicity that they can bring to bear is terrific, just from the standpoint of marketing. And that’s what we need in IndyCar right now. I think we’ve got teams that are as good as they’ve ever been. And quite honestly, we got some great drivers when you see the number of winners already this year. It’s as tough as I’ve ever seen it, and there’s some great stories we can tell with more manufacturers here.”
With Chevy and Honda busily developing their 2023 engines behind the scenes, any new brands Penske might bring to IndyCar would want to get started on motors of their own in the coming weeks and months. Depending on if and when they might sign a deal with the series, a new manufacturer might be better served by entering in 2024.
“Maybe they’ll have to wait a year to come in,” Penske said. “There’s all sorts of possibilities. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. The first thing we have to do is get someone to say ‘yes.’ We’ve got a couple of people haven’t said ‘no,’ yet. So, I think that’s, that’s a positive.”