GM opens new Powertrain Performance and Racing Center

Photo: Team Chevy
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General Motors has opened a new one-stop shop for all its performance and racing components for all its diverse racing engine programs.

The full release is below:

General Motors today opened the doors to the all-new GM Powertrain Performance and Racing Center – a state-of-the-art facility designed to enhance the development processes for the company’s diverse racing engine programs.

The new, 111,420-square-foot facility is connected to GM’s Global Powertrain Engineering Center and is part of a $200-million investment at the Pontiac, Mich., campus. It relocates the Racing center from Wixom, Mich. to the Pontiac Powertrain Campus, bringing together under one roof an additional team of nearly 100 engine builders, engineers and other support staff. The Performance and Racing team is responsible for developing engines for NASCAR, NHRA, IndyCar, IMSA and other racing series.

It also leverages the resources at the Global Powertrain Engineering Center, enabling faster and more integrated technology transfer between GM’s racing experience and production-vehicle powertrains.

“We race to win and learn,” said Dan Nicholson, vice president, General Motors Global Powertrain. “This new facility offers unprecedented opportunities to connect our racing engineers and powertrain engineers, integrating their knowledge to give our racers an edge on the track and our customers better vehicles on the road.”

Tasked with complete racing engine design and validation, the Performance and Racing Center’s capabilities include:

  • Design release
  • Full CNC machining
  • Engine build
  • Electronics and telematics
  • Dyno validation
  • Calibration

“Chevrolet earned six manufacturer and five driver championships in 2015, and we are carrying that momentum into 2016,” said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “This new center is a valuable tool in developing powertrains with the right combination of performance, durability and efficiency to help our drivers and teams win races and championships.”

The racing engines under responsibility at the new center include:

  • NASCAR “R07” – a unique 358-cubic-inch V-8 engine designed and developed exclusively for NASCAR Sprint Cup racing
  • IndyCar 2.2L Twin-Turbo V-6 – a technical marvel that uses a pair of high-boost-producing turbochargers to help extract about 700 horsepower from the small-displacement, direct-injected V-6
  • NHRA COPO Camaro V-8 engines – racers competing with a new 2016 COPO Camaro in NHRA’s Stock and Super Stock eliminator classes can select from supercharged and naturally aspirated LS- and LT-family engines
  • Corvette Racing 5.5L V-8 – Based on the production LT engine family, the naturally aspirated and all-aluminum 5.5L V-8 engine is used by the Corvette Racing C7.R team
  • Cadillac ATSV.R Twin Turbo – A racing engine based on the production model’s 3.6L twin-turbo engine.

Additionally, the high-performance crate engines and crate powertrain systems offered by Chevrolet Performance are developed at the new facility.

Clean-sheet design

A clean-sheet design of the new facility incorporates the latest engine-assembly, engine-testing and calibration equipment. The connected layouts of the engine assembly and testing areas are designed to enhance workflow, making it easier for the eight dedicated performance and racing engine builders to retrieve parts, build engines and move them to the dyno cells. Collectively, they bring 150 years of engine-building experience.

“The process development possibilities with the new center are exciting,” said Dan Nicholson. “We’ve merged the best engineers and engine builders in the business with one of the industry’s most advanced powertrain development facilities.”

Facility highlights include: 

Engine assembly – There are 10 all-new engine build bays – eight in the Engine Build room and two in the prep area to facilitate quicker transfer to dyno testing and other validation areas. Each 120-square-foot bay has an air drop for powered tools and access to an overhead crane for easy loading on the build stands. Builders also use specialized tools such as programmable torque wrenches to help ensure consistency with the engines. Additional specialty tools at their disposal include a Cam Doctor for precise camshaft evaluations and a ROMER Arm coordinate measuring machine.

Machining – Engineers and builders also have access to over 30 machining tools, offering complete machining capability for cylinder blocks, cylinder heads, fuel rails and engine components, comparable to the racing industry’s best racing shops. The equipment roster includes nine CNC machines that can transform designs right into new components – including a new Hurco five-axis machine. The staff also has access to a 3D printer for constructing new or modified components, as well as laser scanners to help ensure the powertrain parts meet the high degree of dimensional accuracy demanded for the rigors of racing.

Engine testing – There are four state of the art AVL engine dynamometer cells dedicated to the Performance and Racing Center:

  • Two gas-powered engine dynos
  • A gas-powered driveline dyno
  • A new electric driveline dyno.

The engine dynos are similar to those used to develop GM’s production engines, but rated for the high output of racing engines. The gas and electric driveline dynos are firsts for GM Powertrain’s campus and are used to test axle differentials for NASCAR and IndyCar. The drive input capability for each is more than 1,000 hp and approximately 560 lb-ft of torque, while the drive output capability is approximately 885 hp and 2,500 lb-ft of torque.

Calibration – An electronics lab is used for the design, assembly and calibration of custom control systems that drive most of the racing and performance engines. Engineers are also able to make calibration changes in the dyno cells. In fact, the dynos can use telemetry data from the race cars’ control systems to replay an engine’s entire race, which can help with development of new engines and calibration changes for existing ones.

Interactive lobby and meeting space

In addition to its technical development areas, the new Performance and Racing Center also features an airy, modern and connected lobby that celebrates GM’s motorsports legacy, as well as a conference center that accommodates up to 125 people. It can be reserved by racing teams, component suppliers and even enthusiast clubs and organizations seeking a meeting location under the checkered flags of GM’s racing programs.

“Louis Chevrolet established GM’s racing legacy more than a century ago and every win since then has helped us design and build better vehicles,” said Campbell. “With the new Powertrain Performance and Racing Center, we will advance that legacy with greater competitiveness on the track and stronger technology transfer to production vehicles.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.