Katherine Legge at Long Beach - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
As I write this, mechanics from Dragon Racing and engineers from Ilmor Inc. are busy in Gasoline Alley at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, preparing the team's two Dallara chassis to accept Chevrolet's 2.2-liter V-6 engines. Dragon Racing owner Jay Penske was able to reach an accord that allowed him - despite his $4.6-million lawsuit against Lotus Cars and both parties' insistence the other owes money - to receive an allocation of Chevrolet engines for the 96th Indianapolis 500. Whether this agreement extends beyond the month of May, nobody knows.
Neither Chevrolet nor Dragon Racing have officially confirmed the pairing but all the activity in the garage speaks louder than words.
Of course Penske has an "in" with Ilmor, as his father Roger is a part owner of Ilmor Ltd, which designed and constructs the engines for General Motors' Chevrolet division. Ilmor Inc. is the American arm of the company. That didn't mean his team would automatically receive dispensation to use the engines, but apparently a deal has been struck.
The changeover from Lotus stock to Chevrolet began either late last night or this morning; the overhead doors of the Dragon Racing garages have been only partially ajar for ventilation purposes.
The team is hoping to get some track time later this afternoon (Wednesday) for Sebastien Bourdais, who hasn't driven on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5-mile oval in six years. He needs a "refresher" course before the Frenchman, who owns four consecutive Champ Car World Series titles will be allowed to qualify for the 200-lap race.
Teammate Katherine Legge, who last raced on an oval track in 2006, coming sixth at the very difficult Milwaukee Mile in the Champ Car World Series, is expected to perform her rookie test on Thursday morning between 8-9:30AM. She needs to complete the full Rookie Orientation Program of three phases in order to be permitted to qualify for the race. Legge's sponsors TrueCar.com have stood by her throughout this ordeal and have representatives on-site for the duration of the race meeting; her parents arrived from the UK today.
INDYCAR officials wanted to ensure the duo had their rookie and/or refresher courses completed before teams received added boost for qualifying on Saturday's Pole Day and Sunday's Bump Day. With the addition of the two Dragon Racing cars, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing will have a full complement of 33 entries.