Have you ever played poker and held a hand you know can’t be topped? Just sat there quietly while everyone else showed their cards and then blew them away with your straight flush or four of a kind?
That’s how I felt while reviewing the Interwebs today before writing this edition of Splash And Go. I knew it would be highly unlikely that I’d find anything in NASCAR, MotoGP, Formula One or anywhere else in racing that would top the seismic impact of THE news of the day in worldwide motorsport on a date that will be circled in red for a long, long time in INDYCAR annals: Chevrolet is returning to the IZOD IndyCar Series as an engine manufacturer starting in 2012.
The Bowtie is back. Roll that off your tongue as many times as you’d like, open-wheel racing fans. Manufacturer competition is back in IndyCar, and Chevy’s return to take on Honda hopefully will tip another fence-sitter or two among car manufacturers into the IZOD IndyCar Series as an engine builder.
It’s impossible to overestimate how huge this announcement is for the IZOD IndyCar Series. Competition. An iconic American manufacturer with deep, successful roots in IndyCar racing. Penske Racing as Chevy’s first customer. And most importantly, a validation from the colossus known as General Motors that the technical package created for 2012 by the ICONIC committee is attractive to auto manufacturers.
This wasn’t just a home run or a knockout. This was Reggie Jackson taking Dock Ellis more than 500 feet deep and out of Tiger Stadium in the 1971 All-Star Game. This was Manny Pacquiao transporting Ricky Hatton into la-la land with one left hook in the second round.
This was big. But the announcement was important for more than just engine competition. Chevy officials also indicated they are interested in building an aero package, a significant development.
If Chevy builds aero kits for the new Dallara Safety Cell, can Honda be far behind? After all, if Chevy builds a very efficient aero kit, will Honda want cars powered by its engine to wear Chevy clothing? I think not. Lotus has expressed interest in building an aero kit, and you have to figure Dallara will offer one, too.
So we have at least two engines and at least three body kits — with Honda as a probable fourth — for 2012. The series still has plenty of hurdles to jump, but rays from that proverbial light toward the back of the tunnel are burning more brightly today.
Full compliments to INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard, who listens and then gets things done. Full compliments to Roger Penske, whose influence, wisdom and business and racing wizardry got the IndyCar door re-opened with Chevy. Full compliments to the ICONIC committee, which was validated big-time today. Full compliments to Honda, which requested competition and welcomes it. And full compliments to Chevrolet and GM, which showed great vision to see IndyCar racing as a place for growth, relevant technological development and strong marketing of its passenger vehicles.
It’s a damn good day to be an IndyCar fan.