JANUARY 27, 2005
NASCAR comes to UK looking for technology
NASCAR's Evernham Group is to establish an Evernham Advanced Engine Technology company in Northampton. It will be headed by American Mark McArdle, a man with considerable experience in open-wheeler racing before he became involved with Evernham in 2003. Our spies tell us that Evernham will a part-owner of the business but that there will be other partners, some of them ex-Ilmor engineers. Evernham represents Dodge in the NASCAR Nextel Cup while Ilmor builds F1 engines for Mercedes-Benz. Both Dodge and Mercedes are owned by the DaimlerChrysler group but there is no sign that there is any connection between Evernham and Ilmor.
The move is interesting for a number of reasons not least because it is the first time that a NASCAR team has openly gone to Europe looking for technology. There were rumours a few weeks ago that Chevrolet is getting help from an Italian engine technology company with links to Ferrari.
Evernham made his name as the crew chief of Hendrick Motorsport, guiding Jeff Gordon to three Winston Cup titles in the 1990s. At the end of 1999 Evernham was hired by Dodge to lead the company into NASCAR and within 18 months had his team up and running with driver Bill Elliott. By the end of the 2000 season the team had won its first race. Elliott, Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne have all been frontrunners for the team since then and Evernham Engines has become a strong contender as an engine builder. McArdle joined the team in 2003. He started working on racing cars in his teens in Formula Super Vee and Formula Atlantic and then moved to CART in 1987 with Kraco Racing. He worked at Truesports and then joined Penske Racing as an engine builder, the start of an involvement which resulted in three Indy 500 victories. He joined Ilmor as director of US development and production engine building in 1994 and stayed until 1999 when he moved to NASCAR with PPI Motorsports, and then had a spell at Yates Racing Engines.
While the primary purpose of the new operation seems to be to build successful NASCAR engines, doing that in England is odd and one has to ask whether there is more to this than meets the eye.
We heard some time ago that a number of Ilmor engineers were starting a new breakaway with the intention of building a new V8 engine for Formula 1 and we are wondering if perhaps there may be some plan for F1 engines. It is no secret that Red Bull Racing has been looking for an engine supplier for some time and has always wanted a link with an American manufacturer...
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