Roger Penske has revealed that he made the first approach to entice Chevrolet back to the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Penske was announced as the first team to commit to Chevrolet power in today's press conference to confirm that General Motors would be back in top-level American single-seater racing from 2012, after a six-year absence. The engines will be constructed in collaboration with Ilmor Engineering, of which Penske was a company founder in the mid-1980s and remains a shareholder in. The legendary IndyCar team boss said his initial consideration had been to find a new opportunity for Ilmor after its most recent IndyCar partner Honda chose not to use the company for its 2012 engine.
"Ilmor was the team to partner with Honda to build the current racing engine," Penske explained. "Honda made the decision going into 2012 that if there was going to be a new engine they wanted to do that on their own and not utilize Ilmor, so at that point, being a shareholder of Ilmor, I said let's go out and look for a world-class manufacturer that might be interested in partnering with Ilmor from a technical standpoint and a support standpoint.
"We went around to various manufacturers, and Chevrolet showed some interest. They were interested in understanding the rules, and the committee got together with them. My role was to introduce Ilmor to General Motors once again, and we've had success with them, and, obviously, committing to running the engine again in our cars over the next several years."
Penske emphasized that despite his role in putting the Chevrolet deal together, his team would not be considered a 'works' outfit.
"That doesn't mean that other teams won't have the same opportunity," he said. "Ilmor and Chevrolet will design the engine. I'll get an engine just like everyone else does. It's the same as it's been with Honda. [Ilmor] rebuilt this year at least 20 engines that were in the field every weekend. It will be the same transparency that it has been.
"We just decided that we could help the series, and we had a couple [of] hundred people that needed the jobs. So there was real incentive for us to see Ilmor survive and be in the business, and what a great partner we've found."