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Porsche and Open Wheel Racing

Porsche Open Wheel Racing Indy 500

The Porsche motorsport history has a broad spectrum of disciplines beyond their current sports car efforts. In 1980, Porsche made a push to race in the Indianapolis 50 - a little-known moment in their diverse motorsport history. Porsche had created an engine for the Indy 500 based on their sports car flat 6 engines. Initially, the motor was beyond the rules and regulations of that which Indy would allow. Porsche applied and received approval with the condition that they would decrease the block boost pressure of the engine. They, of course, complied and were granted permission to race. During a private testing session at the Ontario Motor Speedway, a once existing clone of the Indy 500 circuit in California, Porsche was rumored to have set an unofficial track record. This caused a stir within the top teams already competing in the Indy series who put pressure on the sanctioning body to reconsider their approval of the Porsche engine. The comity gave in and altered their original ruling and stipulated that Porsche decrease the block boost pressure even further. This caused a political discrepancy, which ultimately saw Porsche withdrawing their entry of the engine, and pulling themselves from competition. The Porsche Indy engine went on to be the base for the 956 and 962 motor. These cars later went on to be highly successful in sports car racing. Between 1981-1987, Porsche made a partnership with McLaren in Formula 1, and the Porsche-Tag-McLaren team was born. During this time, Porsche was building the Turbocharged V6 Engines with this being their only interest from an engineering standpoint. Due to a rule change in 1989, which altered engine building guidelines, the partnership ended between McLaren and Porsche.

Seven years after Porsche pulled the plug on their Indy 500 Program, they made a return to the Indy CART series in 1987 with their own chassis and engine. A partnership was formed with Quaker State and the car saw its first race in Laguna Seca, California. This program was entirely controlled, but it gave Porsche a much better opportunity for victory than their original 1980 campaign. The first year saw some struggle, but the car went on to perform well and with a notably more successful season in 1989, it was clear that the program was developing well. Entering the 1990 season, Porsche showed a high level of promise, however a rule change saw a need for the chassis to be updated and become full carbon fiber. Porsche struggled to get their chassis approved for the 1990 season, which led to many setbacks in testing and development. Due to this disappointing season, Porsche ultimately left open wheel racing and transferred all their efforts into sports car racing. This move makes sense as it is the most directly relatable racing discipline to the vehicles they put on the road every day.

Porsche looks to give the best driving experience possible to their customers. It is endeavours like this one that made them the brand that they are today. With a high focus on sports car racing, Porsche looks to pull their motorsport research into each model they release.