LEEDS, Ala – There are rumors that the NTT IndyCar Series is close to signing a third engine manufacturer to join North America’s premiere open wheel series soon. Some say, it could come as soon as next month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
But, IndyCar’s Jay Frye, said that while he’d like to announce something, the reality of it is, nothing is signed with any other automaker yet.
“I hope so. How’s that,” said Frye on Saturday at the Barber Motorsports Park. on if we can expect an announcement soon “No, it’s something that there’s a lot of enthusiasm, we talk to lots to them every day. A lot of what’s going on with it is timing, right, because it’s a huge commitment. They have to build engines. The ones that we’re currently talking to want to build their own engines, so that’s a key indicator when you talk to somebody about their commitment.
“It’s just really a timing thing at this point. So we’re sorting through that.”
The thing is, the target date for a new engine manufacturer won’t be 2020, but rather 2021 instead. See, why would a new OEM come in during the final year of this engine package? When Indy Car wants “faster and louder” for the next phase from 2021 through 2026, why not come in at ground zero in two years?
The series had both Honda and Toyota back in 2005. But, when Toyota departed after that ’05 season, Honda became the sole engine provider for the series for the next six years.
Chevrolet came back in 2012 and both the bowties and Honda have been the two engine suppliers for the past eight seasons.
While IndyCar has recently been on the up across almost every metric, if they want to keep this trend going, they need a third OEM. Frye, said that a third engine partner is integral to the series’ growth.
“One of the things — we’ve got two great partners right now with Honda and Chevrolet and we’re very fortunate for that and very proud of that,” Frye continued. “Part of what’s going on is you talk about the five-year plan and the fields are getting bigger and the teams are coming in, at some point it’s not going to become a luxury, it’s going to become a necessity as we grow. We’re not quite to that point yet, but we’re getting close, so we’re looking forward to who’s next.”
Frye noted that the series’ field has great depth. Two years ago in the season opener at St. Pete, they had 21 cars on the grid. But, out of those 21 cars were just eight teams. This year, we had 24 cars represented by 12 organizations.
“We’ve worked really hard on is recruiting new ownership, new blood to come into the sport,” said Frye on the series’ growth. “We’re really excited about that. There should be a couple more coming hopefully the next year, year and a half, so we think we’re going in the right direction. We’ve just got a lot of work to do, but we’re going to keep after it.”
Mark Miles said that the television growth is up 34-percent this year compared to the past and that the series is once again trending in the right direction. But, the next big step missing is that third OEM.
“Right now everything is full speed ahead,” Frye said of the engine development. “But again, it depends on the timing of all this stuff. The 2.4 we’re confident in everything we’ve got organized with that. Again, that was with the partnership of Chevrolet and Honda to come up with that platform, so it’s — right now it’s ’21 through ’26. It can move either way I guess at this point still. Part of that will be the next OEM partner, what their input would be or how they would want to go about it. Obviously, Chevrolet and Honda are very keen to have another one come in, so if another one came in and it was a delay or some sort of different situation, anything like that could be possible.”s