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The IndyCar Series (known for sponsorship purposes as the Izod IndyCar Series) is the premier level of American open wheel racing. The current championship, founded by Indianapolis Motor Speedwaymarker owner Tony George, began in 1996 as a competitor to CART known as the Indy Racing League (IRL). Citing CART's increasing reliance on expensive machinery and overseas drivers, George aimed to create a lower-cost alternative. In 2008, the IndyCar Series merged with the Champ Car World Series (formerly CART), ending a 30-year period in which American open wheel racing was split into at least two major groups. The series continues to be sanctioned by the Indy Racing League.

Overview

Series name

Due to the legal settlement with CART, the IRL was unable to utilize the name IndyCar until the beginning of the 2003 season. For 1996-1997, the premier series was simply referred to as the USAC Indy Racing League, with no genre designation. For 1998-1999, the series garnered its first title sponsor, and was advertised as the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. The contract was not renewed after the second year. In 2000, the series sold its naming rights to Internet search engine Northern Light for five seasons, and the series was named the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. After only two seasons, however, the sponsorship agreement ended when Northern Light reevaluated its business plan and ended all sponsorships.

The league reverted back to the Indy Racing League name for the 2002 season, with no title sponsor, but several major series sponsors (such as Firestone). The IndyCar Series name was officially adopted beginning in 2003, as the series was now legally entitled to use it. In 2006, IndyCar forged an alliance with Simmons-Abramson Marketing (headed by Gene Simmons of the heavy metal band Kiss), promising to be "actively engaged in the league's marketing, event, public relations, sponsorship, merchandising and branding efforts -- from its IndyCar Series to the venerable Indianapolis 500". Simmons also co-authored the new IndyCar theme song, "I Am Indy". For the 2008 season, DirecTV served as a presenting sponsor, and the series was briefly advertised as the IndyCar Series in DIRECTV HD.

Izod was announced as the series title sponsor beginning on November 5, 2009. Exact financial terms will not be disclosed but the deal is worth at least $10 million per year and runs for at least 5 years.

Television

Series logo from 2003-2009.
the series inception, IndyCar Series events have been broadcast on several networks, including ABC, CBS, ESPN, Fox, FSN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, and TNN. However, beginning in the 2009 season, Versus will begin televising the races for the next 10 years, televising at least 13 races per season. ABC will continue to broadcast the Indianapolis 500 until 2012, as well as four additional races. Versus will also begin airing one hour pre-race shows the day before the race.

In the UK the IndyCar Series races have all their broadcasts on the Sky Sports family of networks. The viewing figures of the IndyCar races in the UK outnumber that of the NASCAR races which are also broadcast on Sky Sports. The IndyCar Series also has highlights of all the races on the channel Five British terrestrial channel and Five USA.

Car History and Current Specifications

The IndyCar Series is not an open formula, it is essentially a one-make or "spec" series, with chassis and engine manufacturers provided exclusively to the league in three-year cycles. Currently, Dallara provides the chassis to all teams and Honda is the sole engine provider.

Chassis

In the series' first season (1996), 1992 to 1995 model year CART chassis built by Lola and Reynard were used. The current Indycar came into being in 1997. Tony George specified new technical rules for less expensive cars and production-based engines. The move effectively outlawed the CART chassis and turbocharged engines that had been the mainstay of the Indianapolis 500marker since the late 1960s.
Vitor Meira's 2006 Dallara preparing for practice.


Starting with the 2003 season, the series rules were changed to require chassis manufacturers to be approved by the league before they could build cars. Prior to that, any interested party could build a car, provided it met the rules and was made available to customers at the league mandated price. In total, four manufacturers have built IndyCar chassis:

  • Dallara began producing Indycars for the 1997 season. The Dallara and G Force chassis were relatively evenly matched over their first few seasons, but eventually the Dallara began to win more races. This caused more teams to switch to the Dallara, further increasing their success. Currently, all full time teams now use the Dallara chassis. Dallara was also tabbed to build the Firestone Indy Lights machines. Dallara has won eight of the twelve Indy 500 races they have entered. After the withdrawal of factory support from Panoz Auto Development, they are the only supplier of new chassis.
    A 1997-spec G-Force IRL car.
    This car was repainted for promotional purposes in 2008.


  • The G Force chassis was introduced in 1997, and won the 1997 and 2000 Indy 500 races. In 2002, Élan Motorsport Technologies bought G Force, and the chassis was re-named "Panoz G Force", and then shortened to "Panoz" in 2005. In 2003 a new model was introduced, and it won the Indy 500 in 2003-2004, and finished second in 2005. It fell out of favor starting in 2005, and by 2006 only one finished in the top ten at Indy. Little factory support was given to IndyCar teams after that point, as Panoz concentrated on their DP01 chassis for the rival Champ Car World Series. By 2008, only one Panoz saw track time, an aborted second weekend effort at Indy, that resulted in Phil Giebler being injured in a practice crash. Given the age of the cars, and three-year cycles, it is unlikely that any further efforts will be seen with these chassis.


  • Riley & Scott produced IndyCar chassis from 1997-2000. Their initial effort, the Mark V, was introduced late in the 1997 season, severely limiting its potential market. It also proved to be uncompetitive. After Riley & Scott was purchased by Reynard, an all-new model, the Mark VII, was introduced for the 2000 season. It won in Phoenix, the second race of the season (driven by Buddy Lazier), but was off the pace at Indy and was quickly dropped by its teams.


  • Falcon Cars was founded by Michael Kranefuss and Ken Anderson in 2002 as the third approved chassis supplier for the 2003 season. One rolling chassis was completed and shown, but it was never fitted with a working engine and never ran. No orders were ever filled.


Superficially, IndyCar machines closely resemble those of other open-wheeled formula racing cars, with front and rear wings and prominent airboxes. Originally, the cars were unique, being designed specifically for oval racing; for example, the oil and cooling systems were asymmetrical to account for the pull of liquids to the right side of the cars. The current generation chassis however, are designed to accommodate the added requirements of road racing.

Indy Racing League officials have confirmed that the series will continue to use the current fleet of Dallara chassis through 2010.

Due to the quirks of the unification efforts of 2008, the ChampCar World Series spec Panoz DP01, with a Cosworth engine, was run in an IndyCar Series points event in the 2008 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beachmarker.

Fuel

Methanol

At its inception, the IRL used methanol racing fuel, which had been the de facto standard in American open wheel racing since the 1964 Indianapolis 500 Eddie Sachs - Dave MacDonald crash. Methanol had long provided a safer alternative to gasoline. It had a higher flash point, was easily extinguishable with water, and burned invisible. With the IRL's introduction of night races in 1997, the burning of methanol fuel was visible for the first time, seen with a light blue haze. With this in mind, in an effort to make it more visible in case of fire during daylight hours, additional mixtures were placed in the fuel. As a safety feature, the methanol would burn with a color.

Ethanol

In 2005, driver Paul Dana brought the sponsorship of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) to his IndyCar team. EPIC is a consortium of ethanol producers that advocate the increased use of ethanol. EPIC were anxious to address public concerns of that era that ethanol use led to engine damage and poor performance when used in street cars. As a marketing effort, it was believed that sponsoring an IndyCar could be used as a tool to promote education and awareness of ethanol use, and to curb the spread of erroneous information.

Dana was killed in a crash in 2006, but the IRL had already begun a transition to ethanol. For the 2006 season the fuel was a 90%/10% mixture of methanol and ethanol. Starting in 2007, the league advertised "100% Fuel Grade Ethanol," the first competitive series to utilize renewable fuel. The mixture was actually of 98% ethanol and 2% gasoline, provided by Lifeline Foods of Saint Joseph, Missouri. The additives satisfies the U.S. government's demand that the alcohol be unfit for human consumption, and adds visible color in case of fire.

To compensate for the loss of power due to the use of ethanol, the displacement was increased back to 3.5L. Since ethanol gets better fuel mileage than methanol, the fuel tanks in the car were decreased.

Compared to methanol, human contact with the current ICS fuel is much less harsh, and the fumes much less irritating. The fumes are often compared with the sweet smell of apple cider or apple cobbler. Unlike methanol, ethanol is not caustic and does not cause chemical burns when it comes in contact with the skin. It also is less polluting when spilled compared to methanol.

Engines

The initial 1996 IRL season, as well as the first two races of the 1996-97 season, featured engines with specifications left over from the rival CART series competition. Those chassis/engine combinations were essentially the same rules utilized by teams which participated in the 1995 Indianapolis 500, which was sanctioned by USAC. V-8 powerplants were allowed the typical 45 inHG. The Menard-Buick V6 engine used in 1996, however, was an updated powerplant from the 1995 version. In addition, the V-6 stock block engines (Buick-Menard) were allowed 55 inHG of boost at all races, instead of just at Indianapolis. During the CART era, V-6 stock blocks were only allowed 45 inHG at all races outside of Indy, which was a decided disadvantage and left the engine out of favor.

Ford-Cosworth reluctantly provided support to teams wishing to run their older-spec engines in the IRL, a major point of contention for CART management, to whom Ford-Cosworth was an official engine supplier. The Ilmor Mercedes V-8 engine, also a mainstay CART powerplant, was permitted, but the only time it was used was a one-off at the 1996 Indy 500 by Galles Racing.

Starting in 1997, IRL cars were powered by 4.0 L V8, methanol burning, production-based, normally-aspirated engines, produced by Oldsmobile (under the Aurora label) and Nissan (badged as Infiniti). Per IRL rules, the motors sold for no more than $80,000, and were rev-limited to 10,500 rpm. They produced around .

The engine formula was changed with the 2000-2004 formula. The displacement was dropped from 4.0L to 3.5L, and the requirement for the block to be production-based was dropped. This formula was used through 2003. In 2004, in the wake of several crashes including the fatal crash of Tony Renna and the severe crash of Kenny Bräck, the displacement was further reduced to 3.0L to curb top speeds.

Infiniti's engines, though reliable, were significantly down on power compared to the Auroras in 1997, leading many of the teams that had initially opted for the Infiniti to switch. By the end of the 1998 season, only a handful of low-budget teams were using the Infiniti. However, early in the 1999 season, Cheever Racing, a well-funded team, was brought on to develop the engine with team owner Eddie Cheever expanding the team to two cars and bringing on his brother Ross Cheever as a test driver. By 2000 the engine had improved markedly and Cheever captured the marque's first win at Pikes Peak International Racewaymarker. However, despite the improved success, few teams made the switch to the Infiniti and the company left the series after the 2002 season to focus on powering the league's new Infiniti Pro Series (now Firestone Indy Lights).

As part of General Motors' discontinuance of the Oldsmobile name, the Olds motor was rebadged as the Chevrolet starting with the 2002 season. However, the effort could not compete with the Toyota and Honda programs starting in 2003. In August, 2003, Chevrolet announced its "Gen IV" motor, a rebadged Cosworth motor. At the time, Cosworth was owned by Ford. On November 4 2004, Chevrolet stated that it would be ending its IRL engine program effective with the end of the 2005 season, citing costs that exceeded value, according to then-GM Racing Director Doug Duchardt, "The investment did not meet our objectives."

In 2003, Toyota came to the IRL from the rival CART series. Toyota won their first race in Miami, as well as the Indianapolis 500 and the series title. However, Toyota had just one podium in the last seven races of 2004, and only Penske Racing fielded competitive Toyota-powered cars in 2005. In November 2005, Toyota company officials announced the company's withdrawal from American open-wheel racing and the immediate discontinuation of its IRL program, coinciding with its entrance into NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series in 2004, and its discontinuation of its IMSA program. It is doubtful that Infiniti, Chevrolet, or Toyota will ever race in the series again.

Honda also came to the IRL in 2003, and by 2005 was clearly the dominant engine manufacturer. Starting in 2006, they became the only engine manufacturer in the IndyCar Series, and will continue in that capacity until 2010. The Honda engine is designed and produced by Ilmor, which is part owned by Roger Penske.
A 2008-spec Honda Indy V8


Since the IndyCar Series has only one engine manufacturer, that manufacturer concentrates on minimizing engine failure and minimizing costs instead of defeating rivals. The engines have proven themselves to be quite durable—there have been no catastrophic engine failures at Indy for the past 2 years, which also lowers the number of crashes. Most of the engines, including those used for the Indy 500, are used for multiple races and are intended to last 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers) between rebuilds. The Honda motors are only available via lease arrangement from Honda, which costs approximately $US 2.9 million per season per car. Honda techs travel with the series, as well as attending all IRL team testing sessions. Virtually all teams like the current arrangement.

IndyCar Series engines are rev-limited to 10,300 rpm and produce approximately 650 hp. The valve train is a dual overhead camshaft configuration with four valves per cylinder. The crankshaft is made of alloy steel, with five main bearing caps. The pistons are forged aluminum alloy, while the connecting rods are machined alloy steel. The electronic engine management system is supplied by Motorola, firing a CDI ignition system. The engine lubrication is a dry sump type, cooled by a single water pump.

Specifications

  • Engine Displacement: 3.5 L (213 in³) DOHC V8
  • Gearbox: 6 Speed paddle shift gearbox
  • Weight: 1,525 lb (691.7 kg) on ovals; 1,600 lb (725.7 kg) on road courses
  • Power Output: 650 hp (485 kW)
  • Fuel: 100% Ethanol
  • Fuel Capacity: 22 U.S. gallons (83 liters)
  • Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection
  • Aspiration: Naturally aspirated
  • Length: 192 in (4.88 m) minimum
  • Width: 78.5 in (1.99 m) (outside wheel rims); 74 in (1.88 m) minimum (measured at the hub centerline)
  • Wheelbase: 120 in (3.05 m)
  • Steering: Manual, rack and pinion
  • Speed: Around 385 km/h (240 MPH)


Future IndyCar Formula

New IndyCar chassis and engines were originally expected in 2011, now will not be available until 2012 at earliest, and may be delayed until even later.. According to IRL President of Competition Brian Barnhart, officials are deciding whether to retain Dallara as exclusive chassis supplier, or to allow multiple chassis manufacturers . Firestone will continue supplying tires.

An engine manufacturer summit took place in Indianapolis on June 24, 2008. The goal of the meeting was to set standards for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series engine package and encourage more manufacturers to produce engines for the series. Auto manufacturers Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Ford, Ferrari, GM, Honda, Mazda, and Volkswagen were represented at the meeting, alongside engine suppliers AER, Cosworth, Cummins, Ilmor, John Judd, Speedway and Zytek Engines.

A second manufacturer's meeting took place on September 17, 2008 and a third meeting was held in Germany in December, 2008. Audi, Fiat Powertrain Technologies, Honda, Porsche, and Volkswagen all continue to show interest in potentially supplying engines to the series and have agreed on the following specifications:

  • 4-stroke engines with reciprocating pistons
  • Engine capacity not to exceed 2.0 liters
  • Dual-overhead cam shaft with 4 valves per cylinder
  • Single turbo charger systems will be permitted
  • Direct injection systems will be permitted
  • Continue the league's leadership position with the use of alternative fuels
  • Engine life between rebuilds of 3,750 miles (6000 km)
  • Five-year sealed engine homologation process that will define areas with possible annual updates
  • Cost containment engine lease ceiling that is applicable to all participants


The new formula may allow for a mix of 4-cylinder inline and V6 engines while using an equivalency formula. The league favors turbo-charged engines to allow higher HP on the road and street courses and lower HP on the high-banked ovals to make the racing on those surfaces less drag-limited. Further announcements on specifications and manufacturers are expected in the next several months.

IndyCar Series teams and drivers

In 2009, at least 21 cars will be fielded by 13 different teams. The 2009 entry list comprises:
Driver Number Sponsor Team
Scott Dixon 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Dario Franchitti 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Hélio Castroneves 3 Team Penske Team Penske
Ryan Briscoe 6 Team Penske Team Penske
Danica Patrick 7 Boost Mobile Andretti Autosport
Tony Kanaan 11 7-Eleven Andretti Autosport
Marco Andretti 26 Meijer Andretti Autosport
Hideki Mutoh 27 Formula Dream Andretti Autosport
Mario Moraes 5 1800 Tequila KV Racing
Graham Rahal 02 McDonald's Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
Oriol Servià 06 McDonald's Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
Dan Wheldon 4 National Guard Panther Racing
Vitor Meira
Ryan Hunter-Reay
14 ABC Supply A. J. Foyt Enterprises
Ed Carpenter 20 William Rast/Menards Vision Racing
Mike Conway 24 Charter Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
E. J. Viso 13 PDVSA HVM Racing
Robert Doornbos 33 HVM Racing HVM Racing
Justin Wilson 18 Z-Line Designs Dale Coyne Racing
Raphael Matos 2 U.S. Marines Luczo-Dragon Racing
Richard Antinucci 98 Novicomm LED Team 3G


Teams that participate part time include:
Driver Number Sponsor Team
Alex Lloyd 99 HER Energy Drink Chip Ganassi Racing with Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Will Power 12 Penske Truck Rental Team Penske
Townsend Bell 8 Herbalife KV Racing
Paul Tracy 15 GEICO KV Racing
Scott Sharp 16 Patrón Panther Racing
A. J. Foyt IV 41 ABC Supply A. J. Foyt Enterprises
Davey Hamilton 44 Hewlett-Packard Dreyer & Reinbold Racing with Kingdom Racing
Roger Yasukawa 43 TBA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Nelson Philippe 34 EcoDrivingUSA Conquest Racing
Sarah Fisher 67 Dollar General Sarah Fisher Racing
Jay Howard 66 Tire Kingdom Sarah Fisher Racing
Buddy Lazier 91 N/A Hemelgarn Racing
Tomas Scheckter 23 MonaVie Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Milka Duno 23 CITGO Dreyer & Reinbold Racing


Indy Racing League IndyCar Series seasons

Following the merger of CART/Champ Car into the Indy Racing League in 2008, the IRL acquired all intellectual property and historic records. For all other previous national champions from 1902-2007, see: American Open Wheel National Champions

Season Champion Rookie of the Year Most Popular Driver
Driver Team Chassis Engine
1996 Scott Sharp &
Buzz Calkins* || [[A. J. Foyt Enterprises]]
[[Bradley Motorsports]] || [[Lola Cars|Lola]]
[[Reynard Motorsport|Reynard]] || [[Ford-Cosworth]]
[[Ford-Cosworth]] || not awarded || not awarded |- | [[1996–1997 in IRL|1996-97]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Tony Stewart]] ||[[Team Menard]]||[[Panoz Auto Development|G-Force]]||[[Oldsmobile]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Jim Guthrie (driver)|Jim Guthrie]] || {{flagicon|NED}} [[Arie Luyendyk]] |- | |[[1998 in IRL|1998]] || {{flagicon|SWE}} [[Kenny Bräck]] || [[A. J. Foyt Enterprises]] || [[Dallara]] ||[[Oldsmobile]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Robby Unser]] || {{flagicon|NED}} [[Arie Luyendyk]] |- | |[[1999 in IRL|1999]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Greg Ray]] || [[Team Menard]] || [[Dallara]] || [[Oldsmobile]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Scott Harrington]] || {{flagicon|CAN}} [[Scott Goodyear]] |- | |[[2000 in IRL|2000]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Buddy Lazier]] || [[Hemelgarn Racing]] || [[Dallara]] || [[Oldsmobile]] || {{flagicon|BRA}} [[Airton Daré]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Al Unser, Jr.]] |- | |[[2001 in IRL|2001]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Sam Hornish, Jr.]] || [[Panther Racing]] || [[Dallara]] || [[Oldsmobile]] || {{flagicon|BRA}} [[Felipe Giaffone]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Sarah Fisher]] |- | |[[2002 in IRL|2002]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Sam Hornish, Jr.]] || [[Panther Racing]] || [[Dallara]] || [[Chevrolet]] || {{flagicon|FRA}} [[Laurent Rédon]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Sarah Fisher]] |- | |[[2003 IndyCar Series season|2003]] || {{flagicon|NZL}} [[Scott Dixon]] || [[Chip Ganassi Racing]] || [[Panoz Auto Development|G-Force]] || [[Toyota]] || {{flagicon|GBR}} [[Dan Wheldon]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Sarah Fisher]] |- | |[[2004 IndyCar Series season|2004]] || {{flagicon|BRA}} [[Tony Kanaan]] || [[Andretti Green Racing]] || [[Dallara]] || [[Honda]] || {{flagicon|JPN}} [[Kosuke Matsuura]]|| {{flagicon|USA}} [[Sam Hornish, Jr.]] |- | |[[2005 IndyCar Series season|2005]] || {{flagicon|GBR}} [[Dan Wheldon]] || [[Andretti Green Racing]] || [[Dallara]] || [[Honda]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Danica Patrick]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Danica Patrick]] |- | |[[2006 IndyCar Series season|2006]] || {{flagicon|USA}} [[Sam Hornish, Jr.]]*
Penske Racing Dallara Honda Marco Andretti Danica Patrick
2007 Dario Franchitti Andretti Green Racing Dallara Honda Ryan Hunter-Reay Danica Patrick
2008 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda Hideki Mutoh not awarded
2009 Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda Raphael Matos Danica Patrick 


  • 1996: Scott Sharp and Buzz Calkins tied in the final standings, and were declared co-champions. Calkins had one win, as opposed to Sharp being winless, but no tiebreakers were in place.
  • 2006: Sam Hornish, Jr. and Dan Wheldon tied in the final standings for first place. Hornish clinched the championship based on tiebreaker of most victories during the season.


See also



References

  1. IndyCar lands Title Sponsor, indystar.com, November 3, 2009
  2. Indy Racing and Northern Light end partnership, Motorsport.com, January 7, 2002
  3. Indy Racing League Forms Innovative Marketing.., Gene Simmons.com, January 10, 2006
  4. Direct Carrier, IndyCar.com, April 3, 3008
  5. IndyCar lands Title Sponsor, indystar.com, November 3, 2009
  6. IRL Adds TNN to Its Family As All '98 Races On Broadcast TV Sports Business Daily, December 4, 1997
  7. Indy Racing League Announces Multi-Year Media Partnerships With ABC and Versus Versus, Aug. 7, 2008
  8. IRL Aurora V8, Autoworld.com, March 29, 2001
  9. IRL Engine Specifications Announced for 2000-2004 Seasons, Motorsport.com, November 17, 1998
  10. Chevy revs for 2002 IRL season SAE Tech Briefs, March 2002
  11. Machinedesign.com "Leveling the playing field" Retrieved April 13, 2003
  12. Honda's Indy Car Engine Evolves Yet Again racing.Honda.com, June 21, 2007
  13. IndyCar Series Technical Update Press Conference, IndyCar.com, February 22, 2007
  14. motorauthority.com, Feb 4, 2009
  15. [1], Jun 8, 2009
  16. [2], Nov 10, 2009
  17. Speedtv.com, June 27, 2008
  18. Indystar.com, June 28, 2008
  19. indycar.com February 3, 2009



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