(TOLEDO, Ohio) – When the announcement was made confirming that the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards would introduce a new engine package in 2015 to address on-track competition and cost containment, it concluded an 18-month process of research and fact-finding to identify the optimum partner for the project-Ilmor Engineering.
“Ilmor is unique in the qualities and capabilities it brings to our engine initiative,” said ARCA President Ron Drager. “Since 1953, our series has constantly evolved to maintain and strengthen our position in the motorsports industry. We developed a concept for the engine which we felt would sustain and carry us into the future, and as we rolled out the criteria we felt we needed to make the plan successful, the further down the road we went with Ilmor, the more comfortable we got. Ultimately, we have partnered with a company which is very familiar with our teams and our race venues, which has a great deal of experience in providing this type of engine program at the highest levels of the sport, willing to make its product available to our teams to own and manage their engine resources and whose accomplishments and reputation in the industry are universally respected.”
Ilmor Engineering, Inc. is a globally recognized provider of high-performance engines. Legendary auto racing names like Andretti, Unser and Castroneves have all driven cars powered by Ilmor engines. To date, Ilmor has more than 280 IndyCar race victories, 18 Indianapolis 500 victories, 44 Formula 1 wins and two Formula 1 World Championships.
Ilmor has a long history in auto racing, dating back to the early 1980s when Mario Illien and Paul Morgan approached Roger Penske and General Motors to form Ilmor Engineering to design and build turbo-charged Chevrolet engines for the IndyCar series. The success has been well documented.
Multiple Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser was the first to race with the Ilmor-designed Chevrolet 265A engine in 1986. A year later, Mario Andretti won the Long Beach Grand Prix, the first win for an Ilmor engine. Rick Mears won Ilmor’s first Indy 500 driving a Penske PC17 in 1987.
Chevrolet exited Indy Car racing at the end of 1993 and Ilmor went on to partner with Mercedes-Benz racing in both the US-based Indy Car series as well as the Formula 1 series abroad. Mercedes Benz’s first victory came with the revolutionary MB500i push-rod engine raced at Indianapolis in 1994.
Concurrent to the success of the IndyCar programs, which continue through today, Ilmor also began a relationship with Penske Racing in 1998 to develop new engine technology for their NASCAR team. By 2004, Ilmor began entering NASCAR, USAC Midget, ARCA Stock Car and the Baja Desert Race Series.
“Ilmor has supported Penske Racing’s NASCAR activity with engine research and component development virtually since Roger Penske re-entered NASCAR almost 20 years ago,” said Ilmor’s President, Paul Ray. “We have become very familiar with stock-car racing engines having been actively involved in NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide, ARCA and a multitude of other pushrod race engines over the past 12 to 13 years.”
The company’s automotive racing success has continued throughout its three decades in the business. In fact, Ilmor’s active involvement resulted in its 15th IndyCar Manufacturers Championship with Chevrolet Racing for the 2014 IndyCar season.
Ray said it is hard to capture the breadth of experience the company has had over the past 30 years engineering and building of motor sports engines. Offshore powerboats, Go-Karts, Grand Prix and AMA Motorcycles, drag racers, to even soap-box derby cars have raced with Ilmor engineering support.
“It’s important to note that, fundamentally, Ilmor is an engineering company that goes racing,” Ray said. “As such, our approach to ARCA is no different than our approach to any major racing program we have taken on over the past three decades.”
Ray said the company will bring the same championship standards and past successes to the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards with its ARCA Ilmor 396 engine.
“Our development techniques for ARCA differ only to the extent that we need to produce a powerful, long lasting engine (1,500 miles) at a reasonable price point,” Ray said. “This brings its own challenges so we are reaching out to current suppliers and supporters of ARCA for assistance in providing existing component parts and technologies.”
The optional engine package was rolled out August 1 and company officials are working hard now to get the engine ready for testing.
“We could not be any happier being part of ARCA’s future direction,” Ray continued. “We have been talking to ARCA for more than two years about their ideas behind this program. We were thrilled when ARCA selected us from the other excellent engine builders available to them. We have a lot of work to do now but it is work we love and this opportunity places us firmly in the stock-car world with full engine packages for a lot of cars.
“There are a lot of engine guys at Ilmor that are very excited to be part of this program.”