We offered RACER.com readers the chance to send in questions for IndyCar's president of operations and competition, Derrick Walker, and we're serializing his replies, with similar questions being grouped together. Today, subjects close to many fans' hearts: more engine suppliers, and more power from the engines they supply…
Do you think that 800hp on the road courses is a realistic goal once the current homologation runs out and the manufacturers can make wholesales changes?
There is a balance between engine performance, reliability and cost. Do you plan finding more horsepower on road/street courses in the next few years without compromising the other two points?
Has there been any consideration to increasing the amount of horsepower for IndyCar engines? The reason for asking is that it seems to me that there could be multiple benefits to this: 1) Marketing – 800 or 850hp sounds much more impressive than 650hp to the average person and the serious race fan. 2) Attracting more top drivers to the series. 3) The incredible sound of bigger engines, which could translate very well to TV.
I know safety is No. 1 but what are your plans for increasing horsepower to put the drivers back in the game. Give them what they (drivers, fans) want!
Do you see the engines being able to produce over 800... preferably around 850hp anytime in the future, at least for the road and street courses? The racing is great at the moment but that's not enough for the 2013-and-beyond fan.
Would it be difficult for the engine suppliers to increase the horsepower of their current engines with only a modest overall cost to the teams? And can you quantify the anticipated cost increase this would entail assuming everything else relating to the engine lease costs, etc., remain the same? I appreciate the cost issue is critical to the teams, but I also know that from a fan's perspective the need for the drivers to control the throttle pedal will show relative skill levels more clearly on all types of racetracks.
DW: The engines can make more power as they are: they don't need to wait for homologation. We've limited the amount of power because we have to balance power output with how many miles we need to get out of each engine, for cost reasons. Currently, each engine has to reach 2,000 miles, so you run the highest power you can while keeping the costs in line. Could we run more power? Absolutely we could, and at the end of this year we will have a homologation review so that major components on the engines can change at that point. As a result, I'm sure we'll see an increase in power at that stage. For example, Honda could switch to a twin-turbo.
How do you respond that the cars are too easy to drive – that they have too much downforce in relation to torque and horsepower?
DW: I would agree.
How legitimate is Audi's interest in joining IndyCar and are any other manufacturers showing any interest in joining the series?
Any chance of getting Ford or Chrysler involved in the next few years?
Do you really believe that more European and Japanese manufacturers will join IndyCar, either providing engines or chassis? How far are we from that?
What's the possibility of adding a third or fourth manufacturer?
Any chance of the series allowing the new EcoBoost from Ford in the next seasons? It's new tech so shouldn't IndyCar embrace it and release it to the world ASAP? Put it under the IndyCar's engine limitations and let's have a third manufacturer. (And please put Dodge and Judd together: we could have four manufacturers easily.)
What are the prospects of another engine supplier entering the series? Specifically, I am wondering about Ford with their longtime former involvement through Cosworth. Ford already produces a turbo V6 for their road cars (EcoBoost) so it would seem to be a natural fit for them to come back to challenge Chevy and Honda…
Dwight E. Anderson
DW: As you can imagine, there's a degree of confidentiality in this matter, but let's be clear about this: we do not currently have manufacturers lining up to ask, “When can we run our engines in your series?” And now we've added an extra dynamic where a manufacturer would be expected to create an aero kit, which is an extra financial commitment.
However, not only is our door is very much open to other manufacturers, we're in the process of going back around and re-opening discussions with various manufacturers, because what is different now, compared with a year or so ago, is that we have a long-range plan put together to show where the sport is heading. So we want to know who's interested in joining us on our journey into the future. This is where we must be proactive, not just accept the status quo, not just expect companies to approach us. We must get into the habit of selling ourselves. And it needs to start now, because if a company said today, “Oh yeah, we're interested,” it's going to be two years before you see their product in the sport.