Absent form the Indycar ranks since the end of the 2005 season, Chevrolet today announced that it will return to the IZOD Indycar Series -- and to the Indianapolis 500 -- in 2012 with an all-new 2.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that it will co-develop with Ilmor Racing. In addition to reuniting with the renowned engine-building operation that served as Chevy's key tech partner the last time it took the checkered flag at The Brickyard, this revitalized partnership will include the return of Penske Racing to the ranks of the Bowtie Brigade. However, with the rules requiring that a manufacturer be willing to supply engines to any team that asks to use them, expect a fair number of others to join Penske in a move to Chevy power.
A dominant force in open-wheel single-seaters from 1986-93 and 2002-05, Ilmor Chevy V8s won 104 CART/Indycar races, powered six driver champions and racked up seven Indianapolis 500 victories. Chevrolet's return to the series coincides with major changes to the Indycar formula that go into effect for 2012 season, including the transition from the existing Honda-supplied naturally-aspirated spec-V6 powertplants to a more open formula that will see the reintroduction of turbocharging and engines of up to six cylinders. It's a change that both Indycar and Chevrolet hope will lead to participation by even more automakers.
In making the announcement, Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing indicated that the organization sees this return as a definite win-win situation: "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a proving ground for manufacturers since Louis Chevrolet, our co-founder, first raced here in 1909. Our return to IndyCar as Chevrolet enters its centennial year is natural. At the same time this engine program will be a showcase for the efficient and powerful engine technologies that parallel new Chevrolet vehicles like the Camaro, all-new Cruze compact and Equinox crossover." Seemingly well-founded rumors also are circulating that Chevy's new 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 is likely to see active duty in several other forms of motorsport, as well, most notably the ALMS series.