Racing used to be taboo at General Motors, once banned by a corporate edict. Not that things didn't happen under the table. But things have changed over the past 50 years, with Corvette Racing and other teams going full-bore. Now Chevrolet is jumping back into the IndyCar game with a purpose-built V-6 to power Team Penske cars.
Rules changes for 2012 are what opened the door. Previously the series was dominated by Honda power, but Chevrolet is not without experience: it built V-8 engines for "Indy-style" racing from 1986-1993 and 2002-2005. The new aluminum-block-and-heads V-6 engine will displace 2.4 liters and perform double duty as a stressed member of the chassis.
Chevy will provide the engine to any teams that wish to purchase it, though Team Penske is already signed up. The engines will slot into the new-for-2012 Dallara chassis.
But why is Chevy getting into Indy? "Re-entering IndyCar 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," said Tom Stephens, vice chairman of global product operations for GM.
In other words, win on Sunday, sell on Monday.
For an official history lesson on Chevrolet's previous success in CART and IRL racing, check out page two.