Chevrolet has joined the speedway Midget Car racing fray in the United States with an all-new engine. The engine, revealed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has been designed by GM Racing specifically for the USAC National Midget Car Series. The first users of the new purpose-built, four-cylinder motor will be Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) drivers Tracy Hines and Levi Jones. Then it will be available to all USAC competitors through independent engine builders.
“One year ago, Chevrolet announced its sponsorship of Tony Stewart Racing in open-wheel competition,” says Chevrolet general manager, Ed Peper. “Now Chevrolet has taken the next step by creating an all-new racing engine for this popular grassroots racing series.”
The new methanol-burning 166 cubic inch (2.7-litre) Chevy Midget racing engine produces more than 350 horsepower. The lightweight, inline four-cylinder engine has an aluminium block and cylinder head with two valves per cylinder. To meet USAC rules, the engine runs mechanical fuel injection and uses an electronic ignition system.
“The Chevy Midget racing engine is definitely going to be an asset to Tony Stewart Racing,” says team owner Tony Stewart. “Having the Chevrolet bowtie on the engine and not just on the side of the car as a sponsor is indicative of how much technical support the brand has given our programme. In the past, we’ve competed with engines that were based on Chevy parts but weren’t necessarily a Chevrolet engine.”
Starting with a clean sheet of paper and a blank computer screen, GM Racing engineers developed a package that is a departure from the engines traditionally used in Midget racing. The new Chevy powerplant uses an architecture that improves combustion efficiency, enhances airflow and lowers the centre of gravity. Advanced technical resources such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and solid 3-D modeling used to design GM production engines were also used to develop the motor.
The major components that define the Chevrolet Midget engine package – the cylinder block, cylinder head and certain ancillaries – will be available to all USAC competitors. Independent engine builders can then assemble Chevy Midget engines using internal components from their preferred suppliers. Kistler Racing Engines of Fremont, Ohio, supplies the Chevy engines for the two TSR entries.
“Many of the aftermarket engines currently racing in the Midget series are based on the four-cylinder Chevy II engine produced in the 1960s,” says GM Racing director Mark Kent. “Others are essentially one bank of a conventional V8 engine. We took a different approach to bring innovative technology to the series while respecting a racing heritage that reaches back to the 1930s. We’ve also incorporated lessons learned in designing and developing race-winning engines for NASCAR, ALMS and NHRA competition.”