Audi, BMW, others interested in IRL

June 30, 2008
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irlengineUnification of open-wheel racing is causing quite a stir among engine manufacturers. At a June 25 meeting held by the Indy Racing League, more than 10 engine builders showed up to hear about the series’ future plans.

Series officials said new engine and chassis specifications will be rolled out for the 2011 season, eliciting a huge response from manufacturers interested in taking on Honda, currently the sole IRL engine supplier.

The turnout stunned almost everyone in the motorsports industry, including IRL officials who organized the gathering.

The attendees included representatives from Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Fiat, Mazda, Volkswagen, AER, Cosworth, Ilmor and John Judd. All of these companies are looking to establish or fortify their North American presence. Officials from several of the firms said they were drawn by the unification of open-wheel racing, which split into the IRL and CART in 1996 and didn’t come back together until earlier this year.

Unification is also pushing the series into new markets, with an announcement last week that Loudon, New Hampshire and Las Vegas are the latest cities pursuing IRL events. The promise of increased exposure is a big part of the surging interest of all types of automotive suppliers trying to get involved in the open-wheel series.

A possible return to turbo-charged engines is also sparking interest among engine manufacturers. IRL cars have been powered by non-turbo charged cars since 1997.

Many of the manufacturers at the IRL-hosted meeting are currently involved in Formula One, American Le Mans Series, sports car circuits or other forms of racing.

Honda has performed so well in the IRL that Toyota and Chevrolet raced right out of the series. But recently, Honda officials said on-track competition is good for their company and have urged IRL officials to bring in competing engine manufacturers.
  • I certainly hope that at least two more suppliers come on board. This shouldn't be a spec series, and that it what it has become. Would love for the turbo to come back. The naturally-aspirated engines they use now sound horrible. We need to hear those cars come screaming down the track.
  • Had Kalkoven and the rest stayed out of the split and let the original CART die a natural death, this all would have been finished years ago and the Open Wheel would be much further on the road to success. Instead they dragged it out longer causing many more issues.

    I think the new sponsors, races and potential engine builders are just the begining.
  • Is New Hampshire a city? Perhaps Loudon and Las Vegas are the cities interested in hosting an IRL event. NH is a state.
  • Thanks hoosier-in-texas-phil. Got it fixed.
  • If Lord Sagamore hadn't thrown his tantrum and started his silver spoon semi pro league 13 years ago, OW racing wouldn't be in the shape it is today. The IRL* will never reach the success that CART had with Tony George in charge.
  • It is a little perplexing to me how people still feel the need to post comments about how if Tony George hadn't split the series, it would not have fallen from grace every time there is a blog about open wheel racing.

    Don't we all already know that??? OF COURSE THE SPLIT HURT THE SERIES (BOTH OF THEM). Comments about what might have happened are totally pointless. How about some comments about the future, rather than continuously pointing out Tony's past decisions???
  • It's even more perplexing to me how some people think that just because OW is unified the future is bright. The last 13 years have shown that George knows nothing about running a racing series, race team or business. The man has the personality of a rock, the speaking talents of Elmer Fudd and his whole existence is based on his Grandfather's money.
  • The world is full of people like Tony George. And the world is full of people who critcize people like Tony George. Deal with it. If OW is commercially viable, it will survive. If it isn't, it won't. It's that simple. Newton and/or Einstein didn't invent the NFL. Commercial viability made the sport what it is today.

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