German automaker Audi announced that the company is exploring the idea of increasing their involvement in racing in North America. Among the options are running Daytona Prototypes in the 2014 United SportsCar Racing Championship and the newly proposed DTM America series.
Also rumored is an entry into the IZOD IndyCar Series as an engine supplier. Audi's Wolfgang Durheimer is quoted as saying, "Another opportunity would be IndyCar, which I think is still very popular and the Indy 500 is an outstanding race."
The way I look at it, this could be huge for Audi if they were to do so. First off, with Audi expanding its involvement in North American Motorsport, it would get more people interested in the brand. The term 'win on Sunday, tell on Monday' comes into play here. If race fans or casual viewers see that Audi is winning every weekend in a few different racing series, that will increase the interest in the product and sell more cars.
It also can bring some more interest back into IndyCar Racing. What made IndyCar great in years past was competition between chassis and engine manufactures as well as innovation. The rivalry between Offenhauser and Cosworth in the 1970s comes to mind and in the CART era the competition between Honda, Ford and eventually Toyota was a tense battle.
Innovation is what made Pole Day at Indianapolis a packed house because fans wanted to see new track records as well as the new technology perform at the Speedway. From Andy Granatelli's turbine, the Penske Mercedes beast or the Menard V6, people came to watch. Hypothetically, if INDYCAR was to open up the rules and allow open development on engines, who knows what Audi could dish out. Maybe they could bring their TDI technology to the Brickyard.
Audi has strong engineering power and an INDYCAR program may be a good way to show it. Just look at their Le Mans Prototype program. Their cars changed the definition of Le Mans prototype racing. The R8 prototype won 5 out of the 7 24 Hours of Le Mans it competed in and won several championships in Sports Car racing. It's successor, the R10 was the first turbodiesel powered car to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Audi has built successful turbodiesel prototypes since the R10: the R15 and the R18.
Also, if INDYCAR was to eventually allow aero kits for the DW-12 chassis, it would be interesting to see what Audi could do there. Their LMP body designs have been just as good as the engines, so aero kits may be something they would be interested in.
Plus, in order to be the best in the business, you have to beat the best. So what better way to do that than doing so in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing?
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