Chevy-Ilmor deal: What they're saying
Friday, Nov. 12, 2010
Comments from selected motorsports and corporate executives about Chevrolet's return to the IZOD IndyCar Series starting in 2012 with a new twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V-6 racing engine:
JOHN BARNES (CEO, Panther Racing, IZOD IndyCar Series): Firstly, I think this is a very special day for the IZOD IndyCar Series, and obviously we're very happy that our old friends from Chevrolet and General Motors will be returning to open-wheel racing and the Indianapolis 500 beginning in 2012.
GM is a major part of Panther Racing's history, and they were instrumental in helping us achieve our two IndyCar championships and all 15 of our IndyCar race victories. Those of us involved in this series have been saying for over a year now that there is a lot of positive momentum in the IZOD IndyCar Series, and Chevrolet's announcement today only reinforces the strength and direction of our sport.
We also need to take time to recognize the unbelievable support that Honda has given the IZOD IndyCar Series since becoming the sole engine supplier in 2006. The reliability of their motors and the commitment they have for open-wheel racing and our league is a big reason why our sport is as strong as it currently stands today.
Let's hope that even more engine manufactures take note of where our series is heading and jump on board with Honda and Chevy. Teams, sponsors and fans should be very excited for the future of open-wheel racing and the direction in which we are heading.
BRIAN BARNHART (President, Competition and Racing Operations, INDYCAR; Member, ICONIC Advisory Committee): This is a very exciting time and one of the biggest announcements in the history of the IZOD IndyCar Series. We are proud to welcome back Chevrolet as a participant in the series.
This is a company with an incredible reputation and something from the competition stand point that the fans and everyone associated with the IZOD IndyCar Series are excited about having engine competition. This will drive fan excitement, loyalty and creates drama and excitement around the event. It will add an element of intrigue to the outcome of the events and something we are very excited about for the 2012 season.
This is a great time to be introducing a new car, and now we will be able to come back with engine manufacturer competition at the same time. Hopefully we will be able to add multiple aero kits to the car, as well. This takes us back to a time that involves different-looking cars and many levels of competition, creating a lot of excitement around the IZOD IndyCar Series.
ERIK BERKMAN (President, Honda Performance Development): We want to take this opportunity to welcome Chevrolet back to the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Although we are certainly proud of HPD's numerous accomplishments during our tenure as single engine supplier to the series - including an active and unprecedented streak of five consecutive Indianapolis 500s completed without an engine failure - we have repeatedly and unequivocally expressed our desire for engine competition within the series, dating even from our first days of sole supply, in 2006.
We look forward to renewing our relationship with Chevrolet as competitors on the race track and giving the fans of open-wheel racing a spirited and challenging rivalry.
RANDY BERNARD (CEO, INDYCAR): We are excited to have engine manufacturer competition again in the IZOD IndyCar Series, beginning in 2012. Chevrolet brings a strong passion for racing, technology, relevance and innovation, which is a great fit for our new car platform.
We are excited about the future of Indy car racing with the addition of Chevrolet as well as the continued involvement of our longtime engine supplier Honda.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (Driver, Penske Racing, IZOD IndyCar Series; three-time Indianapolis 500 winner): I'm very excited to use Chevrolet power in 2012, but I'm also excited for the series. There's so much good news happening, not only with engines but with cars.
It will create opportunities for new teams for teams to switch to what they think will be the best package. It's turning from a spec series to how it used to be in the past with lots of manufacturers all going for wins, Indy 500 wins and championships.
It's going to be a lot of fun developing an engine for Chevrolet, and it's a great opportunity for everyone involved.
GIL DE FERRAN (Co-owner, De Ferran Dragon Racing; Member, ICONIC Advisory Committee, 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner as driver with Penske Racing): I think it is a great day for the sport. I think Mr. Stephens' quote was really well put when he said the technology that they will develop in IndyCar racing is really relevant to the challenges that the automotive industry faces today.
I can say as a member of the ICONIC committee that that was one of the key issues that we were trying to address. I was glad to see Mr. Stephens and Chevrolet saw that IndyCar does provide a great platform and a very cost-effective platform for manufacturers to the enter motorsports competition and showcase and develop their technology.
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (Driver, HVM Racing, IZOD IndyCar Series): I think it's great news. It will open up the competition, and I think that's what the fans want to see. I think it's great to have an American brand in the IndyCar Series.
It's something pretty special, and it will be a great year in 2012.
EDDIE GOSSAGE (President & General Manager, Texas Motor Speedway; Member, ICONIC Advisory Committee): I think this is a watershed moment for IndyCar racing, and clearly the wind is in the sails for the sport. To have the ability to have competition between engine manufacturers is another component of the competition on the track and the marketing off the track and gives the fans something to follow.
This is what we've been needing, and Chevy is the perfect partner because of their heritage in the sport, and I just think there's nothing but great things from here.
J.R. HILDEBRAND (Driver, IZOD IndyCar Series, 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion): It's not only great to see an American brand come back, but it's Chevrolet.
I grew up in a Chevy family. My dad had a '68 Camaro, and he's got a '78 IMSA GTO Camaro now. It's always something I grew up around. I think seeing competition from a domestic manufacturer, especially seeing the 'Bowtie,' is a cool deal.
MIKE KELLY (Executive Vice President, Marketing, Phillips-Van Heusen, parent company of series sponsor IZOD): Today's announcement about GM's commitment to the IZOD IndyCar Series is one more sign of the growth of our sport. We clearly have momentum, and we couldn't be prouder to be a part of it.
The increased competition that Chevrolet will bring to the series and the added marketing support that a company of their stature brings is a win/win situation for everyone involved. This will send a signal to other manufacturers that our sport provides a great marketing platform for their brands and the IZOD IndyCar Series is the place to be in 2012.
When we first took over as title sponsor in 2010, we knew that this sport was a diamond in the rough, with huge potential for growth. Over the past year, we've seen an increase in sponsorship and activation across the sport, and as a company, we couldn't be happier with the results to date - our return on investment is off the charts, and it's only the tip of the iceberg.
We look forward to the continued success and growth as we all work together to bring the excitement of our sport to a larger and more diverse audience, and we look forward to welcoming more manufacturers and sponsors to the IZOD IndyCar Series. With the upcoming Centennial celebration of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2011 is going to be a great year for everyone involved.
ROGER PENSKE (Founder and Chairman, Penske Corporation): Ilmor was the team to partner with Honda to build the current racing engine. Honda made the decision going into 2012 that if there was going to be a new engine they wanted to do that on their own and not utilize Ilmor, so at that point, being a shareholder of Ilmor, I said let's go out and look for a world-class manufacturer that might be interested in partnering with Ilmor from a technical standpoint and a support standpoint.
We went around to various manufacturers, and Chevrolet showed some interest. They were interested in understanding the rules, and the committee got together with them.
My role was to introduce Ilmor to General Motors once again, and we've had success with them, and, obviously, committing to running the engine again in our cars over the next several years.
That doesn't mean that other teams won't have the same opportunity. Ilmor and Chevrolet will design the engine. I'll get an engine just like everyone else does. It's the same as it's been with Honda.
(Ilmor) rebuilt this year at least 20 engines that were in the field every weekend. It will be the same transparency that it has been. We just decided that we could help the series, and we had a couple hundred people that needed the jobs.
So there was real incentive for us to see Ilmor survive and be in the business, and what a great partner we've found.
CHRIS PERRY (Vice President, Chevrolet Marketing): Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a proving ground for manufacturers since Louis Chevrolet, our co-founder, first raced here in 1909. Our return to IndyCar as Chevrolet enters its centennial year is natural. At the same time this engine program will be a showcase for the efficient and powerful engine technologies that parallel new Chevrolet vehicles like the Camaro, all-new Cruze compact and Equinox crossover.
WILL POWER (Driver, Penske Racing, IZOD IndyCar Series): It's fantastic news. What the series needed was another manufacturer, and Chevy being an American brand is a perfect fit. Hopefully it can entice even more manufacturers to come into the series. But this alone is great news for everyone associated with IndyCar.
TONY PURNELL (Member, ICONIC Advisory Committee): Chevrolet has a legendary association with the Speedway; the return of the U.S. manufacturer is just the news that IndyCar fans were looking for. The racing spirit is alive in Detroit. It's just fantastic to see General Motors bouncing back on all fronts. Wow!
NEIL RESSLER (Member, ICONIC Advisory Committee): It's delightful. It's really the fulfillment of the vision that we started three years ago with what we called the roundtables. The whole idea was to attract manufacturers to the series, and what the series did was adopt an engine formula that was in alignment with the directions that the modern companies are going.
What Chevrolet has done is recognize that and come into the series with that design - a turbocharged V-6, direct injected. And they recognized that there's a great marketing value in the series. I think the part that is not widely recognized is that this series is very cost-conscious, and you can play for a lot less money than what used to be the case.
I think some of the people that are holding back will be very surprised how efficient it is to be a participant in the series. The series is coming back. It's a good buy and it's a good marketing tool. I hope Chevrolet's entrance serves as a catalyst for other companies who are standing in the background and thinking about it, but didn't want to be the first to move. Well, they're not the first, but there's still time to get in.
TOM STEPHENS (Vice chairman, Global Product Operations, General Motors): Our vision is to design, build and sell the world's best vehicles - and racing is one of the best ways to showcase what we can do. Re-entering Indy-style racing will help us take our advanced engine technology to the upper bounds of what's possible. And it will also provide a dynamic training ground for engineers, who'll transfer the technologies we develop for racing to the products we sell to our customers.
GM has become a recognized leader in implementing direct-injection technology in both four-cylinder and V-6 engines by leveraging knowledge already gained from racing. Building on this foundation, our new partnership with Ilmor will give us even more opportunities to accelerate our engine technology.
It will help our effort to continue to expand and improve the DI technology for street cars. Indy racing will also let us compete at the cutting-edge of key technologies like safety, aerodynamics, electronics and materials so we can make our vehicles even more efficient, safer, more innovative and, especially, more fun to drive.
KEITH WIGGINS (Co-owner, HVM Racing, IZOD IndyCar Series): It's fantastic. It was critical. It had to happen, and I'm just glad that they've managed to put it together. It's the future. It had to happen, and it's great for the sport.