Panther Racing confirmed today that it will reunite with Chevrolet to run the new Chevy IndyCar V6 racing engine beginning next season. All of Panther's 15 IndyCar Series victories and both of its series championships were captured with General Motors engines during the company's first tour of what was then known as the Indy Racing League, and team officials are happy to welcome the iconic Bowtie brand back to its family.
"I just couldn't be more excited that Chevrolet has decided to return to IndyCar racing and obviously it's a natural fit for Panther to have Chevrolet powering our cars once again," said Panther boss John Barnes. "We've got a long list of race wins and championships together and we're looking forward to continuing our successful partnership starting in 2012. Chevy races to win, and so do we, so we're ready to get to work and pick up right where we left off."
Panther won its first race in 1999 with Scott Goodyear in the team's GM-powered No. 4 entry, and later captured the 2001 and '02 IndyCar championships with Sam Hornish Jr. driving GM-powered cars. Panther was the lone team to remain with Chevrolet entering the 2005 season, when it took a victory at Texas with Tomas Scheckter.
"Chevrolet and Panther Racing enjoyed tremendous success together in the past, winning races and winning championships, and we look forward to more success in the future," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vp for performance hehicles and motorsports. "As Chevrolet returns to IndyCar competition in 2012 with an all-new twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V6 engine, we're pleased to renew our longstanding relationship with Panther Racing. Both organizations share the same commitment, focus, and dedication to winning."
Panther driver JR Hildebrand, who will be vying for the IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year crown next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the team's No. 4 National Guard entry, notes that he became interested in motorsports watching his father John race a vintage Camaro when he was growing up.
“I definitely grew up in a Chevy family,” Hildebrand said. “My first real introduction to racing was my dad racing a 1968 Camaro out on the West Coast, so that was always part of my upbringing and it's going to be cool to be part of that Chevrolet family myself now.
"The new engine manufacturers coming into the IndyCar Series add a whole new dimension to the racing and the preparation that goes into it, and I know the history and commitment that Chevy has to winning races. I'm excited to be a part of it.”