Hurtling toward the heart of its 2019 season, INDYCAR remains focused on adding a third manufacturer to the grid of the premier North American open-wheel championship.
Showing an interest in transparency rather than keeping the sanctioning body’s efforts behind closed doors, INDYCAR President Jay Frye fielded questions from the media alongside Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles midway through the NTT IndyCar Series’ 10th visit to Barber Motorsports Park.
When conversation turned to boosting engine competition, Frye acknowledged the burden on current partners Chevrolet and Honda and connected the situation to the uptick in attention IndyCar is receiving.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm,” Frye said of adding a third manufacturer, or more. “We talk to lots of them every day.”
A shift from the current 2.2-liter engines that debuted in 2012 to new 2.4-liter powerplants in 2021 means an incoming manufacturer would likely pick that year to enter competition. New hardware must be ready in about a year, ahead of planned testing in summer 2020.
“A lot of what’s going on with it is timing, because it’s a huge commitment,” Frye continued. “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.”
Honda powered 14 of the 24 cars on hand for this year’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — a figure that will grow in a month when more than 33 entries surface at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“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,” Frye said. “We’re not quite to that point yet but we’re getting close, so we’re looking forward to who’s next.”
With the 2021 engines slated to turn their first laps in about 15 months, companies interested in contributing to INDYCAR’s “fast and loud” approach may soon be revealed.