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A HERETIC I AM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-27-07 03:35 PM
Response to Reply #67
74. is the Readers Digest version....
Edited on Sun May-27-07 03:44 PM by A HERETIC I AM
I started working for Ilmor Engineering in 1989. Ilmor is a company based in Brixworth, England, outside Northampton formed in 1983 by 2 former Cosworth engineers, Mario Illien (the "IL") and Paul Morgan (the "MOR", of Ilmor) with backing from their old friend, Roger Penske. Penske used his pull with folks he knew at General Motors to arrange financing and form an engine maker specifically to produce engines for Chevrolet to run in the CART series and the Indy 500. They built a 2.65 liter engine that within 2 years of its debut, began to dominate the series. Their 1st win at Indy came in 1988 in a Penske car driven by Rick Mears. In 1993, Chevrolet thought they had a deal inked for the following years. Late in '93 Ilmor announced that it had decided to turn down the offer from Chevrolet in favor of an offer from Mercedes Benz. (There is a HUGE amount of back story here, but i don't have the inclination to spell it all out just now)

So, for the 1994 season, the "Chevrolet" nameplates came off the engines and "Ilmor Indy V8" went on. The key to the deal with M-B however was the production of an engine specifically for Indy, the 500I that exploited a provision in the USAC rules at Indy that allowed for a pushrod "stockblock" engine of larger displacement to be allowed more turbo boost, primarily because pushrod engines have a fraction of the durability of an overhead cam engine at the high RPM's the OHC engines were running at (12,000 RPM's). Buick had been running their racing V6 with this extra boost for years but no one had been able to successfully make a V8 that could run competitively for 500 miles and the Buick's, while fast and competitive in qualifying, could not keep up with the thoroughbred racing engines.

Shortly after the announcement it became clear that there were some SERIOUS noses bent out of shape in Warren, Mi (GM's tech center and the home of Chevrolet Racing) because it meant they weren't going to be represented at Indy in '94 and they felt that they were shut out by a company that they had helped form (Ilmor). Those bent noses coupled with plenty of people surrounding IMS President Tony George that had axes to grind, convinced George to create the Indy Racing League with the intent of essentially bringing home Indy car racing from the foreign (Mostly British) chassis and engine makers. In other words, "If we can't win against the foreigners, we'll make it so they cant run here" became the mentality at the speedway.

The 500I was very successful (again, plenty more back story here, including a little known fact; The engine didn't complete it's first 500 mile durability test until the 1st week of May that year, just before opening day at the speedway) and if Emerson hadn't crashed in his qualifying attempt the 1st weekend, they would have had the entire front row with Al Jr., Paul Tracy and Fittipaldi. Ilmor and M-B held the engines for the exclusive use of Penske Racing that year but they had cast something on the order of 200 sets of blocks and heads for next year, if the project turned out to be a success so as to supply any other teams that wanted the engine.

Of course, the Speedway (read Tony George) changed the rules and dis-allowed the pushrod V8 for subsequent years. This rule change forced Ilmor and M-B to send several million dollars worth of castings to the shredder.

Over the course of the rest of '94, the Ilmor V8 and Penske racing absolutely DOMINATED the series, winning a total of 12 races, 10 pole positions and a total of 28 podium finishes between the 3 aforementioned drivers. This success further pissed off the folks at the Chevy "Raceshop". After all, it was essentially the same engine that ran the year before with "Chevrolet" emblazoned on it. Chevy lost all that good press and they weren't happy about it one bit.

The plans for the IRL progressed over the course of the 1995 season and began in earnest in 1996. Tony George laid out a rule for the 1996 500 that completely stunned the team owners. If they didn't compete in the first 3 races of the new IRL schedule, then any CART team that wanted to qualify for the 1996 500 would be fighting for 8 positions at the rear of the grid only. The majority of the team owners basically said "Fuck you" and ran at Michigan on the same day as the 500.

Tony George is basically an asshole. He knew he had the ace in the deck, the 500 - but he had very few other cards. He had AJ Foyt (His godfather, BTW) and he had a pissed off General Motors that wanted to win at Indy. Tony George is truly a member of the lucky sperm club, having ZERO business acumen and in fact, a history of cocaine abuse that has been noted but hushed up by the Hulman family. He was made a member of the board of CART in the early 90's primarily because he felt he should be involved in the rest of Indy Car racing outside the speedway but i have it on very good authority that every meeting he ever attended, he was either silent or when he did open his mouth, he added little or nothing to the conversation. He is a moron, basically and all the team owners know it. If it wasn't for his mother, Mary Hulman George, the Chairman of the IMS and daughter of the late Tony Hulman, Tony George would be a quiet, dopey nobody son of a wealthy midwestern family. Unfortunately for open wheel racing, he is in charge of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

There is a whole hell of a lot more to this story. The folks in the background whispering in George's ear, the guys in Warren who dropped the ball and let Ilmor get away, AJ Foyt who HATES street courses, etc. Perhaps someday, Tony and the remaining team owners holding out as "Champ Car" will get together and return Indy to it's rightful place as "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing".

I won't hold my breath.

On edit to add these Wiki links for your edification.
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  -"Ladies and Gentlmen... Start your engines!" salin  May-27-07 11:58 AM   #0 
  - Pole sitter Helio Castroneves - car stalls (at the taking positions)  salin   May-27-07 12:11 PM   #1 
  - I think that sucks...  VelmaD   May-27-07 12:20 PM   #2 
  - I sit an hour south of Indy... and grew up listening to it on the radio.  salin   May-27-07 12:23 PM   #4 
     - you won't be the only one  VelmaD   May-27-07 12:23 PM   #5 
     - Yea! Great to have good company!  salin   May-27-07 12:31 PM   #8 
        - I'm watching while I clean  VelmaD   May-27-07 12:33 PM   #10 
           - Hats off to your planning!  salin   May-27-07 12:36 PM   #11 
     - Me too, Salin. Thing is, my 'puter is in a different room so i have to run in here during  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 12:27 PM   #7 
        - I have the laptop by the radio.  salin   May-27-07 12:32 PM   #9 
  - I haven't missed watching an Indy 500 for 35 years.  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 12:21 PM   #3 
  - Very cool - that must have made the job interesting.  salin   May-27-07 12:26 PM   #6 
  - i already had my racing pleasure this morning  Blue_Tires   May-27-07 12:37 PM   #12 
  - thanks for the rain on the parade...  salin   May-27-07 12:38 PM   #13 
  - i'm not trying to be harsh  Blue_Tires   May-27-07 12:42 PM   #15 
     - I understand  salin   May-27-07 12:46 PM   #19 
  - Give it a shot. I agree with your point re: the split, but the 500 is such a unique event...  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 12:41 PM   #14 
     - yeah, it's something i'll watch anyways  Blue_Tires   May-27-07 12:44 PM   #18 
        - I hear ya, Blue. Tony George has totally screwed over my beloved open wheel racing in this country.  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 12:52 PM   #22 
  - Andretti (Marco) pulls into second  salin   May-27-07 12:43 PM   #16 
  - Yellow, yellow, yellow!  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 12:43 PM   #17 
  - Sounds like there are some fueling problems  salin   May-27-07 12:48 PM   #20 
  - Took Moreno to Methodist Hospital. Complaining of back pain.  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 01:04 PM   #27 
     - hope Moreno is okay... and Al Jr.s cre member  salin   May-27-07 01:06 PM   #28 
  - 1 hour south of the speedway... sky is growing dark and still  salin   May-27-07 12:50 PM   #21 
  - I'm about 1 hour from the Speedway, too...  Bzzzz   May-27-07 12:57 PM   #23 
     - I am in B-ton  salin   May-27-07 01:00 PM   #25 
  - Yellow yellow yellow!  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 12:58 PM   #24 
  - thanks for the details - the radio coverage goes something like this  salin   May-27-07 01:02 PM   #26 
     - Are you getting any details on the pitlane incidents?  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 01:07 PM   #29 
        - when it happened (described problem and the splash/top off)  salin   May-27-07 01:11 PM   #31 
  - Sort of  Bluzmann57   May-27-07 01:09 PM   #30 
  - she remains at about the same place she started  salin   May-27-07 01:14 PM   # 
  - Danica currently 9th, Sarah 20th. n/t  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 01:13 PM   #32 
  - I heard Sarah at 19.  salin   May-27-07 01:16 PM   #34 
  - Another Yellow...Milka Duno, the 3rd woman is out.  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 01:14 PM   #33 
  - Milka Duno into the wall and out of the race...  bullwinkle428   May-27-07 01:17 PM   #35 
  - thanks for details  salin   May-27-07 01:19 PM   #36 
  - Check this site  vireo   May-27-07 01:27 PM   #38 
     - thanks for that link  salin   May-27-07 01:33 PM   #42 
        - Click on "full results" if the standings don't refresh  vireo   May-27-07 01:39 PM   #44 
           - I just edited my post  salin   May-27-07 01:40 PM   #45 
              - Thunder an hour south of the Speedway.  salin   May-27-07 01:41 PM   #46 
  - Rookie mistake. Just need to "feather" the throttle. Coming all the way off  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 01:29 PM   #40 
  - I read that she earlier came out of the pitts too fast  salin   May-27-07 01:32 PM   #41 
  - sad...i was pulling for her to get a good result  Blue_Tires   May-27-07 03:06 PM   #72 
  - Wow - the lead changes are amazing  salin   May-27-07 01:25 PM   #37 
  - In-car cmera w/ Danica just then. Great driving in her part....  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 01:28 PM   #39 
  - Danica in 5th  salin   May-27-07 01:38 PM   #43 
  - The pride of Roscoe, Illinois  vireo   May-27-07 01:42 PM   #47 
  - Now in 4th. Go Danica!  salin   May-27-07 01:43 PM   #48 
     - 3rd awaiting the green flag  vireo   May-27-07 01:53 PM   #51 
        - Back to yellow  vireo   May-27-07 01:54 PM   #52 
        - Second Rookie to hit the wall - and end his race.  salin   May-27-07 01:55 PM   #54 
        - raining an hour south....  salin   May-27-07 01:54 PM   #53 
           - Looks like a narrow band of moderate showers  vireo   May-27-07 02:00 PM   #57 
              - speculation that the race is over.  salin   May-27-07 02:08 PM   #62 
  - They still run Indy? (spoiler?)  drking81   May-27-07 01:50 PM   #49 
  - At least you can pass at the Speedway. Monaco is a qualifying event ...  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 02:05 PM   #60 
     - Sure  drking81   May-27-07 02:15 PM   #63 
        - The USAC - CART split was he best thing to ever happen to Open Wheel in this country....  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 02:22 PM   #65 
           - I would be interested in reading such an essay.  salin   May-27-07 02:24 PM   #67 
           - well.....give me a half hour or so and i'll type up the readers digest version...  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 02:27 PM   #68 
           - Cool  Indy_Dem_Defender   May-27-07 02:57 PM   #70 
              - thundering and pouring down here, right now..  salin   May-27-07 02:58 PM   #71 
                 - The street in front of my house  Indy_Dem_Defender   May-27-07 03:14 PM   #73 
           - is the Readers Digest version....  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 03:35 PM   #74 
              - Fascinating read  salin   May-27-07 05:14 PM   #83 
           - When it comes to racing  drking81   May-27-07 02:33 PM   #69 
              - Check out this thread i started 2 weeks ago on Pole Day...  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 04:02 PM   #75 
  - Raining in B-ton, rain reported in Indy - but much of the Speedway  salin   May-27-07 01:53 PM   #50 
  - Rain begins  Indy_Dem_Defender   May-27-07 01:57 PM   #55 
  - the shower in b-ton lasted less than five minutes  salin   May-27-07 01:59 PM   #56 
     - It's very light  Indy_Dem_Defender   May-27-07 02:01 PM   #58 
  - Red flag. Race stopped  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 02:03 PM   #59 
  - DANGIT  salin   May-27-07 02:06 PM   #61 
     - Are you sure  drking81   May-27-07 02:18 PM   #64 
        - oops - what you say sounds right  salin   May-27-07 02:23 PM   #66 
  - "Restart your engines!"  vireo   May-27-07 04:27 PM   #76 
  - Just  salin   May-27-07 04:33 PM   #77 
     - we go...  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 04:58 PM   #78 
        - Doesn't sound like they will be able to finish (rain within the hour)  salin   May-27-07 05:05 PM   #79 
  - Play it smart, Danica...  salin   May-27-07 05:06 PM   #80 
  - She moved to SECOND!  salin   May-27-07 05:07 PM   #81 
     - If she plays this right with the rain, it could be hers...  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 05:08 PM   #82 
        - Indeed - but Castroneve's comeback has been very impressive.  salin   May-27-07 05:16 PM   #85 
           - Just said rain was 15 mins away. n/t  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 05:27 PM   #89 
  - Ok...prediction; Looks to me like a typical Penske Cat and Mouse set up....  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 05:15 PM   #84 
  - What is the biggest difference, in your opinion,  salin   May-27-07 05:19 PM   #86 
  - You know....I'm not sure. I heard them say earlier they reduced fuel capacity to 20 gallons...  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 05:26 PM   #88 
     - Given that the rain could come anytime... I wonder if this be a factor  salin   May-27-07 05:30 PM   #90 
  - I think i would have been right, had the rain not fallen. Penske cars finished 3rd and 4th...  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 06:08 PM   #107 
  - It sure had that feeling. 'Course it always does.  Twillig   May-27-07 06:59 PM   #109 
  - So many to cheer for...  salin   May-27-07 05:22 PM   #87 
  - Marty Roth. Big push...into the wall. He's ok.  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 05:30 PM   #91 
  - yellow flag - and looming rain...  salin   May-27-07 05:36 PM   #92 
  - Yellow and rain reportedly minutes away.  salin   May-27-07 05:38 PM   #93 
  - Kanaan back in  salin   May-27-07 05:41 PM   #94 
  - Multi car crash! Marco Andretti and a couple others....  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 05:46 PM   #95 
  - That was a scary wreck, with Marco fipping upside down.  SeattleGirl   May-27-07 05:47 PM   #97 
  - Phew! He's OK.  vireo   May-27-07 05:49 PM   #98 
     - no kidding.  salin   May-27-07 05:50 PM   #102 
  - details?  salin   May-27-07 05:49 PM   #100 
  - What just happened?  salin   May-27-07 05:47 PM   #96 
  - It wasn't Micheal, it was Marco who flipped upside down and skidded off the track.  SeattleGirl   May-27-07 05:49 PM   #99 
  - Maybe next year I will travel outside of Indiana  salin   May-27-07 05:52 PM   #103 
  - Salin, it looked like Marco drifted to his right into Wheldon...  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 06:00 PM   #106 
     - I finally just saw it  salin   May-27-07 10:31 PM   #110 
        - They need Bob Jenkins or Paul Page  Indy_Dem_Defender   May-27-07 11:37 PM   #111 
  - Rain now. This will be it.  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 05:50 PM   #101 
  - I hate it when races end that way, or end under caution.  SeattleGirl   May-27-07 05:52 PM   #104 
  - Dario Franchitti wins in the rain. Yellow, red checker.  A HERETIC I AM   May-27-07 05:52 PM   #105 
  - My engine's been revved all my life... can't wait to clutch it into 'Drive'.  HypnoToad   May-27-07 06:11 PM   #108 
  - Just saw  Indy_Dem_Defender   May-27-07 11:46 PM   #112 
     - I noticed that, too.  SeattleGirl   May-27-07 11:48 PM   #113 

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