May. May is a big month for INDYCAR due to the Indianapolis 500. This year, May is apparently the month when we’ll finally start to hear news about the third Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). Jay Frye had been teasing out two big announcements in May. Everyone believes one of them is going to be the name of the third OEM. Until it wasn’t. For the new engine to be developed and ready to race in 2021 testing starts in 2020. Anyone joining Honda and Chevrolet needs to commit by mid-season. Recently, it was said that should a third partner be close to signing, they may delay the timeline. Tons of names are out there for the third OEM. I have a few I’m thinking of: Fiat Chrysler with Alfa Romeo, BMW, and Cosworth with Ford (even though they’ve said it’s not them).
Chrysler is part of the big three automobile manufactures here in the United States (the other two being General Motors and Ford). They were formed in 1925, and you know them through their common brands of Dodge, Jeep, or Ram. Chrysler fell into bankruptcy in 2009 and emerged from restructuring merged with Fiat. As far as any type of racing resume, Chrysler was in NASCAR for a few years. Their first season, 2001, was a banner year for the manufacturer. By 2012, the only team with Chrysler was Team Penske, and they switched to Ford in 2013. Chrysler is more involved in NHRA through their Dodge line. They sponsor four NHRA races, Leah Pritchett’s car, and the top fuel cars run on the Chrysler hemi engine.
Alfa Romeo is part of the Fiat automotive group and has recently gotten back into motorsports. Their history with motorsports goes back to 1911. They’ve been involved in Formula 1 with a long stretch as constructor and engine supplier from 1950 through 1987. They recently reentered Formula 1 by joining with the Sauber team. With INDYCAR, Alfa Romeo supplied engines from 1989 to 1991.
My mom would like for BMW to get into INDYCAR. She drives a BMW (don’t get any ideas, it’s quite old) and would have a team she could cheer for. Formed in 1916 in Germany, the company’s history starts with aircraft engine manufacturing before the switch over to automobile and motorcycle engines. BMW is heavily involved in motorsports. Most notable in the touring or sports car series. BMW returned to DTM in 2010 and BMW drivers won the series in 2012, 2014, and 2016. They’ve recently established themselves in the American Le Mans Series, in a partnership with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. BMW has won their class at the Rolex 24 Hours three times. BMW’s involvement in open-wheel is fairly new. They had a long and twisted history with Formula 1, their last involvement ended when Sauber dropped BMW in 2009. In another INDYCAR tie-in, BMW is a manufacturer for the Andretti Autosport Formula E team.
Saving the most American choice for last. Another partnership floated around has been the Cosworth/Ford partnership. Sure recently Cosworth has come out to say “no way” but I’ve learned very quickly to never trust anything until it’s over. Ford, as you should know, was formed in Detroit by Henry Ford back in 1903. It’s been the automobile company that really embodies America. As far as involvement in motorsports – it’s impressive. They’ve been in Sportscar racing, Rallycross, NASCAR, Formula 1, and yes INDYCAR. In fact, it was a Ford Cosworth engine that was in the car Arie Luynedyk drove when he broke the Indianapolis 500 lap record (237.498 mph). That record hasn’t been broken yet.
The rumored partnership was Ford and Cosworth. Cosworth is an engineering company who focuses on high-performance engines. They actually have a facility in Indianapolis. Their racing resume is nearly as impressive as Ford’s. They rank second, behind Ferrari, as far as Formula 1 wins as an engine manufacturer. They supplied engines for Champ Car from approximately 1992 through the merger in 2008.
So who is it going to be? BMW and Ford/Cosworth have better ties to open-wheel racing, with BMW having the most current ties. I think Ford/Cosworth has the history and experience that would lean to them being the best choice. Of course, Cosworth has sworn they’re not coming back to open-wheel.
I feel pulled towards the Chrysler/Alfa Romeo paring. I just think BMW is almost too much of a stretch. Not to sound nationalistic (I drive a Honda, worked for Honda, and love my Honda), but I could see the series pulling in one of the Big 3 American manufactures. Plus with the help of the different subsidiaries in the Fiat group, including prestigious Alfa Romeo, it just seems like a good choice.
Whoever it is – they better act quickly!