Ford and Chevrolet might go toe-to-toe in IMSA, Pirelli World Challenge, NASCAR and many other race series, but you can forget about ever seeing the two homegrown giants race together in IndyCar, according to Ford’s head of product development, Raj Nair.
Nair says spec racing, such as IndyCar and Formula 1, doesn’t translate to production well. The automaker wants to race cars that consumers can then go and buy in the showroom, which isn’t the case with open wheel series.
“We’ve been pretty focused on what we think can translate to production, whether it’s the engineering tools or technology, or the actual car, like the Ford GT, because that relevance really matters to us,” Nair told Autoweek in an interview. “It’s hard to show that in the formula classes like IndyCar or F1.”
That logic doesn’t apply to Ford in NASCAR, though. NASCAR offers the type of mass appeal where Ford can forego its virtues, Nair said, and the cars bodies look like the production vehicles they are styled after, which is another contributing factor.
“In NASCAR, I think everybody knows that isn’t really a Ford Fusion out there, but the physical resemblance is important, and the fans still relate to it. IndyCars are gorgeous machines, and technically a lot of fun to work on, but they don’t have the same relevance.”
Team Penske and Chevrolet driver Simon Pagenaud won last year’s IndyCar driver’s championship after winning five of the season’s 15 races and collecting 659 points. Four of the top five drivers were driving Chevrolet-Ilmor powered cars with Chevy’s in-house aero kit, with Honda’s Graham Rahal in fifth.