Ford moto makes Chevys go fast
Want to make your Chevy go fast? Put a Ford motor in it! That’s the lesson we’re learning from the folks at the Indy Racing League, who have approved the Gen IV Chevrolet (nee Cosworth-Ford) engine for competition mid-season.
GM engines, first badged as Oldsmobiles, then as Chevys, dominated the IRL until this year when Honda and Toyota brought their programs over from Championship Auto Racing Teams. Suddenly, Chevy was an also-ran, and immediately began casting about for solutions. Cosworth had developed an IRL-spec engine in anticipation of an IRL-CART detente, and next thing you knew Chevy was sleeping with the enemy, or at least doing business with them.
Sam Hornish, former IRL champ driving for the Panther Racing team (the Chevy “factory” team) debuted the Gen IV at Michigan last weekend, and his Dallara ran up front for 126 laps of the 200-lap race, finishing second by a mere .012 second to super-sub Alex Barron in Mo Nunn Racing’s Toyota-powered G Force. Hornish also ran the fastest lap of the race at 220.353 miles per hour.
In a NASCAR-like move, IRL officials bent over backwards to allow the introduction of a new engine in mid-season. The Cheever-Red Bull racing team will have the new powerplant at the next race at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis, and engines are being produced at a rate that Chevy hopes will supply all their teams by season’s end. In a whirlwind of “spin” that puts Washington politicians to shame, everyone involved heaped praise on Chevrolet’s engineering and development expertise, blithely ignoring the fact that the engine was a Cosworth piece developed for Ford.
“The Gen IV Chevy Indy V8 passed its first test with flying colors,” said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL program manager. Said Eddie Cheever Jr., whose team will have the motor at Gateway, “Everybody forgets that GM is one of America’s largest companies and the world’s largest auto manufacturer. When they wrap their arms around something, you expect it to happen.” Come on, people! Next you’ll be falling all over yourselves telling the Emperor how great his new outfit is!
It was great to see Jerry Nadeau on camera at the Pocono NASCAR Winston Cup event. I certainly hope his rehabilitation continues, and that he’s back in the MB2 Pontiac soon. But meanwhile, the car’s driving seat is still a musical chair with Mike Skinner the latest driver named to sit at the keyboard. Skinner, who lost his Morgan-McClure ride a few weeks back, replaces Mike Wallace through the Darlington round, with a road-racing “ringer” expected to pilot the car at Watkins Glen.
When the NASCAR television deal with FOX and NBC was announced a couple of years ago, I speculated in this space that the level of commercial interruptions in Winston Cup races would increase dramatically. Well, Mike McCarthy, founder and editor of MotorsportsTV.com, has undertaken to prove me right. His feedback from fans, via emails to his website, are heavy on complaints about commercials. Mike even wondered in print if NBC didn’t stand for “Nothing But Commercials.”
He recently reported on a survey of commercials on both FOX and NBC broadcasts, logging the average number of commercial minutes during entire broadcasts (including pre-race shows) and racing action (green flag to checkered flag).EWithout getting into mind-numbing detail here, Mike’s results showed that NBC took up slightly more time with commercials than FOX, but not significantly so. The FOX number of commercial minutes per hour for total event coverage was 14 minutes, 43 seconds, while NBC logged 15:27. During race time (green to checker) NBC/TNT logged 16:45 per hour, with FOX/FX at 15:20.
FOX had the widest variation, with the lowest 11:21 per hour at Rockingham and the highest 18:16 during the Michigan coverage. By contrast, NBC used 13:53 per hour at Chicago for their low number, and 16:30 per hour at New Hampshire.
So what’s the bottom line for the race fan? Well, I guess it means you won’t be missing as much racing action while you go to the fridge for a beer or a sandwich. Or maybe that you can spend more time channel surfing over to the IRL race on ABC or the CART race on CBS.
Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist.