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IndyCar announces new engine strategy

The IndyCar Series is drastically changing its engine strategy, opening up the process to a variety of manufacturers and configurations for the 2012 season.

The new platform calls for the ethanol-fueled engines to be up to six cylinders, allow turbocharging and produce between 550 and 700 horsepower, depending on the type of course the series is racing.

Current engines are eight cylinders, produce about 650 horsepower and are made by Honda exclusively.

"We are the fastest and most versatile racing in the world and this new engine strategy will continue to enhance that," IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said in a statement.

"Now that we have a platform in place, it is our job to put this package in front of the automotive industry to attract the type of participation that will elevate the sport. We truly want to challenge manufacturers to once again make our sport a proving ground and a platform to showcase technology that will benefit the future of their industry."

IndyCar has been working on ways to spice up the series, which has accelerated since Bernard came onboard in February after a long stint as head of Professional Bull Riders Inc. He helped create the ICONIC committee in March to advise the series on its 2012 chassis and engine packages, and last month announced new season championships for ovals and street/road courses.

The engine and chassis changes represent some of the most dramatic in IndyCar history.

Currently, five companies are competing to replace the current Dallara chassis, including the rocket-ship-looking DeltaWing and a Batmobile-esque car from Swift. Bernard said the series plans to have a decision on its new chassis by June 30.

The new generation of engines will utilize the latest automotive technology, create more competition among teams and manufacturers and, hopefully elevate the excitement for fans. A new set of rules will be put in place to keep track of the various configurations.

"We will continue to evaluate rules that will keep a level playing field across the board with the various engines that could enter our sport," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations. "For example, we could see a V-6 competing against an Inline 4 at all IZOD IndyCar Series events in the future."

The engines will also be more efficient, with the series looking at new technologies for energy recovery, hybrids, fuel conservation and other developing green initiatives.

"We feel this new engine strategy is open, inclusive, powerful and high performance, in keeping with the historical values associated with IndyCar racing," said Gil de Ferran, team owner representative to the ICONIC Advisory Committee. "Additionally, it poses relevant challenges to which the automotive industry faces today."