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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
After competing in NASCAR the last few years, Juan Pablo Montoya will be returning to IndyCar this season.
Four-time IndyCar Series champion, Dario Franchitti, has announced his retirement from the sport.
When you’re an Olympic gold medalist, there’s no denying your dedication to your country. But apparently Tyler Clary would much rather hop into a stock car and go racing than hang out with the President of the United States.
The Chinese have something to learn about watching car racing, and maybe beer drinking too in light of the fact that the race was cancelled for a beer festival.
Hot Wheels will introduce a limited-run tribute Dan Wheldon commemorative edition car to simultaneously mark the beginning of a new IndyCar season and to celebrate the life of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon.
Wheldon suffered fatal injuries after a 15-car crash during last year’s IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Available in toy stores in a matter of weeks, the Hot Wheel known as “DW-1″ will be the first Hot Wheel in decades to sport rear rubber tires and its proceeds will help support the Dan Wheldon Family Trust.
Formula 1 racing veteran Rubens Barrichello will officially be joining KV Racing Technology to make the move from F1 to IndyCar racing.
“We are kind of pinching ourselves, it’s a dream to be bringing Rubens to our team,” KV Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser said.
“I had always promised to my wife, Silvana, that I wouldn’t race on ovals,” Barrichello said. “But we talked a lot and in the end she said that she wouldn’t interfere if this was really what I wanted to do. I think my two sons were actually the ones who helped convince her.”
Initially, he said the plan wasn’t to run in all 16 races on the IndyCar circuit, but instead to solely run in the Indy 500. It seems that Barrichello changed his mind after deciding it would be too hard to sit at home and watch someone else in his car.
“This wasn’t expected at all at first,” he said. “But it kind of evolved after the first test and now I’m really happy to be starting this new phase in my life,” he said.
KV Racing isn’t the only party excited to have the racing legend changing veins. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard also acknowledged the draw Barrichello is likely to command in the coming season.
“There’s not a person in the world who knows racing that wouldn’t tell you that Rubens Barrichello is one of the greatest drivers of all time,” he said in a statement. “That will create great competition and expands our international platform. There will be millions of fans that will want to see what Barrichello can do.”
[Source: USA Today]
Baltimore’s Grand Prix, an IndyCar Series race, is in great jeopardy when the city terminated its contact with the organizers of the race. The city has been warning Baltimore Racing Development that they would terminate its five-year contract if BRD failed to pay the $1.5 million owed to the city by the end of 2011.
Now it’s 2012 and BRD hasn’t paid up, forcing Baltimore to pull the plug, opening the door to others interested in continuing the race in future years. BRD was responsible for organizing the Baltimore Grand Prix and their duties ranged from bringing the fencing to line the course to selling sponsorships and tickets to the event.
The Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, had hoped that the BRD would restructure in order to pay their debts before the end of the year as the Grand Prix had generated $47 million in economic impact for Baltimore. ”The event, if conducted responsibly, has significant economic value to potential investors and the City this year and in future years,” said Rawlings-Blake.
BRD currently has almost $600,000 in unpaid taxes along with lawsuits from investors and vendors.
Lotus Motorsport achieved a couple of major milestones recently, firing up their first ever IndyCar engine while also giving their Exige R-GT Rally car its first shakedown runs – both of which occurred within 24 hours.
On December 22nd at Dallara’s headquarters in Varano Melegari, Palma, Lotus successfully started up the first official IndyCar engine while under the observance of Group Lotus Director of Motorsport Claudio Berro and his team’s technicians. Once they were satisfied with the overall results from the engine, the team began preparations to have the powerplant and car shipped to the United States where full testing will begin in January.
“The fire up in the car went really well, there were no nasty surprises and I think our partners are going to be very happy with the results. It was only October last year that we announced that we would become an IndyCar engine supplier and just 12 months on, we had an all new Lotus engine and three teams signed up – Bryan Herta Autosport, Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, and HVM Racing. We’ve still got a lot of work to do ahead of the start of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar season but so far I’m very encouraged by what I see”, said Claudio Berro.
Lotus also had their first shakedown runs in their Exige S R-GT Rally car in Turin with the team delighted with the results. Testing on the rally car will continue in the new year in preparations for the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship where the Exige will compete in the FIA GT category. It’s powered by a 3.5L, supercharged powerplant and looks to be a formidable race car in the series.
GALLERY: Lotus IndyCar Engine and Exige R-GT Rally
IndyCar has released the cause of Dan Wheldon’s death as a non-survivable injury when his head hit a post in the fencing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The two-time Indianapolis winner was killed in a 15-car accident at the October 16th race when his car was launched into the catch fence.
Beyond that, details were light and unfortunately no one reason could be singled out as the cause of the accident – making it difficult for Las Vegas Speedway to potentially make any changes in order to make the track safer. Investigators referred to the accident as a “perfect storm” and IndyCar said that ”impossible to determine with certainty that the result would have been any different if one or more of the factors did not exist.”
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard reiterated that the size of the field and the banking itself were not the sole responsible for the accident.
[Source: Fox News]
In the wake of the tragic crash that caused Dan Wheldon’s unfortunate passing, the IndyCar Series has decided to remove the Las Vegas race from its 2012 schedule. 2011 was the first year Las Vegas Speedway’s oval was used for open-wheel racing since 2005, and a massive 15-car accident was the result, involving the death of Dan Wheldon (above).
Currently officials have been testing at the Vegas track to see what can be done, if anything, to make the oval safer. But for now, IndyCar plans to stay away from the track.
With 2012 just around the corner now, Chevrolet is hyping up its return to IndyCar where they haven’t been racing for six years. Their return also means the development of a new engine for the racing series, where they hope to take what they learn on the track and apply it to their passenger vehicles.
Their upcoming IndyCar campaign will be powered by a brand new, twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V6 powerplant that runs on renewable E85 ethanol fuel. The excitement and buzz surrounding the program couldn’t be more optimistic, as Chevrolet hopes to transfer a lot of that technology to the street in their upcoming production models.
And if their proven success with their ALMS Corvettes is any indication of what’s to come in production tech-transfer, most of us will be wishing Chevy didn’t take a six year hiatus from IndyCar.
Check out a video after the break showing off what Chevy has in store for the 2012 IndyCar season.
The IZOD IndyCar Series will be brought to China for the first time in a race scheduled on August 19, 2012.
Held in Qingdao, China, located between Beijing and Shanghai, this coastal city has previously hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic sailing competitions. Until finances can provide for a proper racing circuit to be constructed, a 6.2 kilometer street course will designed for the event for the time being. Unfortunately, the addition to the IZOD IndyCar racing schedule will knock Japan’s Motegi circuit, previously the only race in Asia to hold a major American open-wheel series, off the list.
Motivation for IndyCar’s new schedule for next season has a lot to do with up-and-coming talent, Ho-Pin Tung, the first Chinese racing driver to participate in American open-wheel racing.
Finishing runner up two years in a row, Dan Wheldon topped the podium at the Indy 500 earlier this year. Wheldon’s life ended tragically today during the final race of the 2011 IndyCar season.
The British-born driver of the Bryan Herta Autosport car was involved in a terrifying 15 car accident during the Las Vegas 300. Airlifted to hospital he eventually succumbed to his injuries.
Wheldon’s career highlights include another Indy 500 win back in 2005.
Born in 1978 Wheldon leaves behind his wife Susie Behm (whom he married in 2008), as well as his two sons, Sebastian (born on February 1 2009) and Oliver (born March 19th of this year). Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.
In NASCAR they always talk about “The Big One”. But it was this weekend’s series finale of the IndyCar Series that saw a catastrophic crash totaling 15 cars. Included in the mess was Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon who suffered what could be serious injuries and has been airlifted to hospital.
Other drivers involved in the pile-up that saw several vehicles take flight at 200-mph include James Jakes, Wade Cunningham, Paul Tracy, Vitor Meira, JR Hildebrand, Townsend Bell, Jay Howard, Tomas Scheckter, Charlie Kimball, EJ Viso, Alex Lloyd, Pippa Mann, Will Power and Buddy Rice.
Watch the video after the jump:
The world of Formula One has been flipped upside down by new regulations approving the switch from current V8 engines to V6 turbos. The rev limiter has also been lowered from 18,000 rpm to 15,000 as a major change. As a result, many companies associated with the commercial side of the sport are very concerned about a decline in popularity. Renault and the FIA want to see F1 become more environmentally active while Ferrari and Bernie Ecclestone feel that abandoning what F1 has become known for will affect ticket sales.
In fact, some companies and race promoters are becoming antsy and are threatening to move to IndyCar racing instead. Promoters feel that the signature engine note produced by the V8, V10 and V12 engines will be lost, and with it, a major part of Formula 1′s branding. Bernie Ecclestone cannot blame the companies and could hardly hold the race promoters at fault. Switching to V6 engines may prove to be trickier than imagined because the F1 is a bigger spectacle these days than it was in the past, when the racing itself mattered more than the commercial aspect.
The outrageously dramatic last lap of the Indianapolis 500 will be talked about for years to come. JR Hildebrand, in a freak accident lost first place and $1.5 million in the last mile of the race. On the final turn of the last lap Hildebrand, overtook a slower car and slammed into the safety wall, allowing Dan Wheldon to win the Indy 500 on the 100th anniversary of the race.
Wheldon received $2,567,255 for his victory while Hildebrand coasted his dying race car into second place to win $1,064,895.
“It came down to a split-second decision,” Hildebrand said. “Am I going to go for it here and go around and try to make this work on the high side, or am I going to risk slowing down significantly in into a corner to stay behind the 83 (Charlie Kimball), who was trying to get out of the way as much as possible? But it is, as Mr. Unser so eloquently put it, a one-groove track.”
Hildebrand said he learned a hard lesson about racing that day and can be seen very clearly in the video.
“Sometimes, this race, you need a little luck,” he said. “The stars need to be aligned for you to go through 500 miles, and it was not our day.”
Watch the spectacular win after the jump!
There isn’t a Chevrolet on the grid at this year’s Indianapolis 500, which is surprising considering the high profile the brand is playing at the race, ranging from being the official pace car, to a consumer drive event that can get fans behind the wheel of everything from a Corvette to a Volt. A year from now, however, Indy cars powered by Chevy engines will be prepping to hit the track with the bowtie-brand announcing its new twin-turbocharged direct-injection 2.2-liter V6 engine will first fire up in June, with testing set for later in the year.
Speaking to a group of journalists in Indianapolis, Chevrolet VP of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports Jim Campbell (middle right), explained that while there are numerous reasons for Chevy’s return to the series, now is the right time because of a new set of rules that, for Chevrolet, makes them much more relevant to the real world, i.e. production cars. In total, he lists five areas of “technology transfer” from the track to the street, namely: smaller displacement engines, the use of V6 engines, turbocharging, direct injection and E85.
The first four are obvious, with V6s continuing to be the backbone of many GM vehicles, while many of Chevy’s new models make use of smaller engines that feature both direct-injection and turbocharging. Take the Chevy Cruze for example, which uses a DI turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder. That same powerplant will also find its way into the new Sonic sub-compact. As for E85 and ethanol fuel in general, Chevrolet continues to make E85 compatible vehicles and often discusses it, but with no other automakers really paying much attention and other drawbacks to the fuel, it continues to be mostly irrelevant.
In addition, Campbell also discussed racing’s relevance to sales and marketing, as well as Chevy’s desire for competition, highlighting a 100 year shared history with the Indy 500, as well as heavy involvement in numerous other racing series from NASCAR, to the American Le Mans Series, to Grand Am road racing and drag racing.
Campbell says the IndyCar series allows Chevrolet to reach new customers, particularly as the series grows. While it has struggled to find fans over the past many years Campbell says that more recently viewership between 18 to 34 year-olds has grown 40 percent. Chevy isn’t alone in hopping on board with Indy either, with sponsorship spiking recently.
2012 may be Chevy’s first return to IndyCar since 2005, but the plan is to win says Campbell. “Winning is the goal,” he says, adding that “it gives you the most marketing leverage.”
In a move to attract sponsors and an audience, IndyCar Racing League (IRL) announced that at the series finale this year, five professional racing drivers who are currently not in IRL, would be granted a wild card entry. If any of these drivers go on to win the event, they would receive a prize of $5-million.
This healthy prize has gotten many former racing stars to get out of bed and start knocking on IRL team doors in the hopes of landing a race seat. The latest news is that former Ferrari F1 driver, Jean Alesi might get to compete.
Alesi, whose career highlight was his sole win at the Montreal GP in Canada back in 1995, has been keeping himself busy with open wheel racers recently. Alesi is an ambassador for Group Lotus, and is also a test-driver for the Lotus T125 project. He could join KV Racing Technology, a team affiliated with Lotus, to compete at the Las Vegas Indy. Other big names taunted to get a race seat include Petter Solberg, Jimmy Vasser, Jacque Villeneuve, Juan Pablo Montoya, Paul Tracy and Al Unser Jr.
Race fans have to just wait and see the final line-up, but this has surely got race fans talking about IRL racing.
Now professional race car driver’s are gearing up for a serious reality event. It was announced earlier this year, that the last race on the IZOD IndyCar Series will present a new twist. Any racing driver who is not currently racing full-time in the IndyCar series, can win $5-million if they finish the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 16, in first place.
This has caused a bit of a frenzy, as professional racing driver’s from NASCAR, Formula-One, FIA Rallying and even Supercross are trying to take part in this lottery event.
IndyCar series boss Randy Bernard said that only five spots will be available, and drivers like Jacques Villeneuve (1997 F1 World Champion), A.J. Allmendinger (NASCAR), Petter Solberg (FIA Rallying) and James Stewart (Supercross) are just among the few who are hoping to take part in this event. According to Bernard, 15 drivers have shown interest so far.
Who will get the five race seats remain to be seen, but it looks like the series ending race will be a spectacle worth watching.
The IRL IndyCar Series is downsizing its engine formula from the current Honda-made 3.5L V8 to four and six cylinder engines displacing a maximum of 2.4L, a move being considered by other forms of motorsports, including Formula 1.
While F1 and NASCAR have different engine builders competing against one another, the engines are generally similar in their output and design. The new IndyCar format should allow for more variety and more interesting race strategy. Formula 1 famously allowed four and six cylinder engines in the 1980′s, an era regarded as some of the most thrilling racing of all time.
IndyCar will also continue to use ethanol for its race fuel.
[Source: Inside Line]
Lotus is looking to make a massive push in motorsports, announcing its return to the IndyCar series just as a new Lotus Formula One team hits the track in Bahrain for the start of the F1 season. Teaming up with long-time Lotus partner and world-renowned engine builder Cosworth, the Lotus Cosworth team will be run by KV Racing Technoloy (KVRT). Piloting the characteristically-Lotus green and yellow Lotus-Cosworth IndyCar will be Formula One veteran Takuma Sato.
Lotus recently announced a partnership with Cosworth that will not only see the engine builder develop the company’s 400-hp Evora Cup Car engine, but also develop engines for street cars.
Lotus-Cosworth racing will first take the track at the Sao Paolo Indy 300 in Brazil on March 14, 2010.
Official release after the jump:
Can a gasoline engine best a diesel one in endurance racing? It can during qualifying, as Acura proved by claiming the pole for the 12 Hours of Sebring race, set to take place tomorrow.
Scott Dixon shocked pretty much everyone on Thursday by piloting the de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a to the pole with a time of just 1:45.27. Neither Audi or Peugeot (both favored to claim the pole over Acura) could post a better lap. Impressively this pole position is the first for Acura, during it’s first ever race in the top-level LMP1 class.
“I’ve watched this race for many years and it’s always been exciting so now it’s great that I get to race here,” Dixon said. “I’ve tested on the short track many times with IndyCar but never on the big track. So you can’t help but grin from ear to ear to be excited to drive here.”
“Overall it’s been a great week especially now having Acura on the overall pole,” Dixon said. “It was unexpected. We always shoot for the pole from the get-go. But realistically I thought we were only to be third or fourth. It was interesting when I heard I was going to qualify the car. I’m not sure why Gil picked me in the end, but I think all three of us could have done it.”
The battle for pole was a close one, however, with Tom Kristensen just 0.082 seconds behind in the new Audi R15. In fact, the fiels was so close that all top-five qualifiers were just 0.281 seconds apart.
The third fastest time was posted by Christian Klien in one of the Peugeot 908 HDi coupes.
In the LMP2 class, Acura also claimed the top spot with Adrian Fernandez in the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b posting a 1:49.686.
As for the remainder of the classes, Corvette clinched the GT1 pole with a Oliver Gavin behind the wheel in what will be the last Sebring race for the C6.R as it retires later this season.
The final class, GT2 saw a Porsche on the pole with Dirk Werner in the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 RSR running a time 2:03.051.
Complete qualifying results after the jump: