********** 1/7/97 12:14 PM Begin logging Indy Racing League. RIS: Welcome to our special online conference featuring Frank Honsowetz of Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A. We're live from the Motor Press Guild meeting at The Proud Bird in Los Angeles, California. We're going to be getting started at about 12:45pm. Meanwhile, Phillipe de Lespinay announced the Venturi Gentleman's Cup Series, based at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The first race, scheduled in Portland, should be on July 4. At the moment, it's preliminary and they're looking for 20 gentlemen to get started. They're talking with two sanction organizations. RIS: It was announced that next year's International Automotive Journalism Conference will be held on November 30-December 1,2. RIS: The Grand Prix of Los Angeles was announced for Labor Day Weekend through the streets of Los Angeles, sponsored by VARA and the Los Angeles Marathon. Crower Cams & Equip | How's it going, Frank. What is availability of an engine kit for Team Blueprint? Have one Olds, however second engine is problem for second car at Orlando. New driver, Sam Schmidt will run second car for Blueprint. Jim Guthrie will run the Olds. Thanks Frank Honsowetz: It's a little late to ask for one now. You're welcome to call me in the office. Crower Cams & Equip | No problem. Any word from Groff at WDW? Tim Considine | Good afternoon. Anyone who pays attention to motor racing knows of Nissan's involvement. Our guest speaker is very involved in Nissan Motor Sport. He has been at Nissan for 23 years. With the exception of GTP, he has supervised all of Nissan's Motor Sports. Among his greatest achievements was the 1994 IMSA GT season which saw Nissan 300ZX Turbos win overall at the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 hours of Sebring and score a class victory at Le Mans. Eleven months ago, Nissan announced that they would take part in the IRL. He will talk about that and their progress. He is an author and a race driver himself. Please join me in welcoming Frank Honsowetz, manager of Motor Sport for Nissan U.S.A. Frank Honsowetz: I've done this for a long time. I've been involved with a lot of motor sport programs with Nissan and I've been guilty of thinking that "this time we only have to build an engine". And from the git-go, we've been running 120%. We accepted the challenge for Infiniti Division to run the 4-liter engine. One of the reasons is that we were looking for a challenge to continue Nissan's participation at the top level of racing. And with the change, the IRL situation provided an opportunity for Nissan Motor Corp. to participate at the Indianapolis 500. Racing is an activity that substantiates our corporate performance. Racing is something that everyone understands. Racing is something that helped establish Nissan and Datsun in the United States in sports cars and the SCCA 2.5 Trans-Am series. Racing supported the name change to Nissan, primarily with the GTP program, that Nissan was an automaker, not a household appliance. And now racing supports our corporate culture where we're trying to remind the public who Nissan is. Primarily the areas we've competed in in the past are sports car and off-road racing. Now I'd like to show you a video on Nissan's past accomplishments in sports car and off-road racing. (Video is played). Frank Honsowetz: So in addition to the video, I want to remind you that Nissan's been involved in motor sport in the United States for 30 years since the 1967 win by Bob Sharp in the roadster, then with the BRE team with Pete Brock and John Morton. So now, the IRL. The IRL situation led to an opportunity for Nissan Motor Corp, to compete in the Indianapolis 500, the largest single day sporting event in the world. At least 7 million people watched the Indianapolis 500 in 1996. There were over 117 hours of television coverage, coverage in over 170 countries. The Indianapolis 500 in addition to the expanding IRL schedule and other activities are important to Nissan Motor Corp. This is a reasonable investment with a great return for Nissan. This also provides Nissan with the opportunity to become the first Japanese transplant to compete in the Indy 500. Something else very important to us is the use of 4-liter normally-aspirated engines. Other things important to us are the 90- degree bore angle and timing chain are common to the production engine and the race engine. There's also a 10,500 rpm limit and the IRL is committed to stable rules for several years. The Infiniti Q45 provides a perfect platform for the race engine and this will be Infiniti's introduction to motor sport. The engine installation is a fully-stressed installation. The engine is all-aluminum and fully skirted. The main bearing studs are continued through the bottom of the pan for stability. Significant parts are from the production car. We expect 650 horsepower, well now that's a real number, 2.6 hp per cubic inch. This is a high technology engine. At 10,500 rpm, with a 76.3mm stroke of this engine, the piston speed is 5250 feet per minute, 11% more than the CART engine. The speed of the engine is 207mph. At 10,500 rpm, the intake and exhaust valves each open 87 times per second. One of the other important features of how everything's coming together in the IRL is the unusual cooperation between Nissan, GM, Dallara and G-Force. There's no car structure between the front of the engine and the back of the engine. That bolt pattern is the same for the Olds engine as it is for the Nissan engine. Another important feature is the mechanical fuel pump drive. In the current CART situation, the Honda, Toyota, Ford, Ilmor have the same sort of position of the fuel pump. Not exactly the same place. In the IRL regulations, the fuel pump position is the same for the two engines. The bolt pattern for the two engines is the same. Basically, each manufacturer, will reduce the cost to the competitors, reduce the supply of parts, and reduce the lead time required. One thing I'd like to talk about a little bit is that in recent history in CART, there haven't been American- built racing engines in quite a while. The Ilmor and Cosworth came from England, the Toyota and Honda were built in Japan. The last American-built engine to win the Indy 500 was the Offenhauser. This IRL program permits the return of the U.S. high performance racing industry. 80% of our engine is produced in Southern California. Five of our six designers are in Southern California. We have Ed Pink, Trevor Harris, Hans Hermann, Sonny Bryant, etc. Some of the project service suppliers for this deal were Clayton Cunningham's Cunningham Racing. It was a great deal for us with the end of our IMSA program that we were able to keep most of the people at Cunningham. We did this project with outside suppliers. Nissan Motorsports is only five staff people. West Coast Performance did the machining of cylinder blocks. Another interesting older guy, Gary Knutson, GLK Designs is doing the entire intake system. We do use a rotary barrel system on our engine and we do use a version of the production EFI system. It is our intention to supply a kit of parts to our teams that they cannot buy anything better. Absolutely everything comes with our kit. Some of the other guys were BC Drolomy, a cylinder head supplier who can port cylinder heads, Tilton Engineering and Sid Waterman whowe spec-ed for fuel pumps. I'm sure someone would like to know the update on the status of our project. It's only been 11 months. The first race is January 25. Clayton Cunningham's car is at Orlando, waiting to test. They're doing a little bit of PR photography this afternoon. We're trying to get Pagan and Hemelgarn to Orlando this week. We have seven people who want to use our engines. We have not done a track test yet. We have done extensive dynomometer testing. Friday, December 13, we ran the motor all day long on the dyno. Ran through 100 gallons of fuel with no problems. I heaved a sigh of relief at the end of that day. Everybody's working astronomical hours. Are there any questions? MPG Question: What made Nissan choose this series? Frank Honsowetz: In 1992, at Nissan Performance Technology, we did a very extensive evaluation of the CART series at that time, we developed a business plan that Toyota followed almost exactly. It was common knowledge that in IMSA, NPTI had a higher budget that anyone was doing in IndyCar at that time. The cost was absolutely astronomical. How can you make a business decision to spend all that money. That made my job at Nissan that much harder. When I came back with a much lower cost option, management came back to me and said "What happened to $150 million per year for several years". And then the IRL made their announcement and Oldsmobile made their announcement. I believe in the IRL and I will admit I'm a giant fan of CART racing. And the Toyota people have said in public that they've followed our plan. Eric Davis: You'll have enough engines and chassis for a race? Frank Honsowetz: There are enough chassis for Orlando and the Oldsmobile engines are ready and we are working very very hard. I will not say Orlando will be as great as it could be, but I'm a hard guy to satisfy. I will say by Phoenix it will be better. We have had zero funding from Japan. We did have some discussions with Nissan Limited in Japan and until the Indianapolis 500, they didn't know what we were talking about. The commitment was not there, so we took it on here. After the Indianapolis 500, now they're wholly supportive, but they're highly committed to Le Mans. Financially, it's wholly a project of Nissan U.S.A. Everything at Nissan is done on an annual basis. We do have an agreement with the IRL for a three-year commitment. I'm sure you know about the announcements at Nissan, but that has nothing to do with this project. At the SAE presentation, the Toyota guys talked about money, and I was surprised. I don't think anyone in motor sport should talk about money. If I had my way, we'd all go to the L.A. Coliseum, and put a dyno on the floor and the guy who made the biggest numbers would get an award and the guy who made the biggest explosion would get another award. MPG Question: Will Johnny O'Connell drive for Cunningham? Frank Honsowetz: No, Jonathan Byrd came along with Mike Groff and he wanted to work with Clayton Cunningham. I have two guys I want to get to Indianapolis, one is Johnny O'Connell and the other is John Morton. Tim Considine: Thanks to Frank Honsowetz for coming. Our next meeting is the 4th of February and we hope to see you then. ********** 1/7/97 1:46 PM End logging Indy Racing League.