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GM Reveals New Turbo IndyCar as it Commits to Indy Returning to Detroit

Revived Motor City race series may add new battery car event.

by on Oct.12, 2011

GM's new IndyCar entry will migrate to a high-tech direct-injected turbo V-6.

The roar is returning to Detroit.  With General Motors lending its support – along with race legend Roger Penske – the Motor City will again see a weekend of racing next year with the IndyCar series serving as its high-profile anchor.

To mark its own return to IndyCar racing, meanwhile, GM’s Chevrolet division unveiled an all-new open-wheeled car that will feature a new high-tech turbocharged V-6 engine making as much as 700 horsepower.

But to reflect the changing nature of the automotive market, GM’s top American executive told TheDetroitBureau.com that the partners in the annual event will be looking at the possibility of adding a race featuring battery-powered vehicles.

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“Detroit is a natural for racing,” proclaimed Mark Reuss, president of GM’s North American operations, during an announcement at the maker’s headquarters along the Detroit River.  “The city puts the world on wheels.  The roar of the engine simply belongs in Detroit.”

The race weekend, which will be inaugurated on June 1 through June 3, 2012, will mark the first time Motown has had a street racing event since 2008.  The event was cancelled due to the worsening economic crisis that pushed two of the Detroit automakers – GM and Chrysler – into bankruptcy in 2009.

The partners have confirmed a 3-year program, though it is clear that the goal is to make motor sports a permanent part of the Detroit scene.

A series of races will be held over the weekend, including not only IndyCar but GrandAm and IndyLights.

For the premier event, GM announced it will put itself back on the starting grid by introducing an all-new car developed in partnership with Penske Racing and the race car development house Ilmor.

The engine of the new model will make a break from the current V-8-powered IndyCar design, migrating to an ethanol-powered twin-turbo, direct-injection 2.2-liter V-6 that, according to Roger Penske, “will produce between 550 and 700 horsepower depending on the circuit it runs on.”

The Chevy/Penske partnership is a long on — though during the period the Detroit maker was out of Indy Penske teamed up with Mercedes-Benz – and together they count 104 victories, six driver championships and seven wins in the legendary Indianapolis 500.

While the roar of the engine may be a familiar sound to race fans around the world, GM and Penske are also considering adding a series to the event on Detroit’s Belle Isle that would feature a more high-tech whine.

“Yes,” said Reuss, when asked if an electric vehicle series might be in the offing for the weekend of racing.

“It’s where the market is headed and racing series have to reflect the market or people don’t care,” he explained.

The idea is still in a very preliminary stage, cautioned Penske, and almost certainly won’t be ready for the 2012 season.  But that still leaves two years – or more – for the launch of a battery car racing program in the Motor City.

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