IndyCar Q&A: Cosworth CEO Hal Reisiger


Cosworth hopes to announce a return to the IndyCar Series by the end of the year.

Engineering company Cosworth has not powered an Indy car entry since 2008 when it was the muscle behind the Panoz DP01 in the final Champ Car World Series event at Long Beach.

When that league folded into the Indy Racing League following the 2007 season, becoming the current day IndyCar Series, Cosworth left with it. Over the next five years, Cosworth would focus on its Formula 1 partner, supplying for teams including Williams, Lotus, HRT, Virgin and Marussia F1.

But the economics of F1 forced those teams to all separate from the independent Cosworth over the past half-decade, with sole-partner Marussia leaving to partner with Ferrari engines this season, leaving the English-based company off the grid for the start of the 2014 season.

Due to that and other changes at Cosworth, including a management shuffle, the organization is now looking to redefine its storied commitment to auto racing, starting with a possible entry into the IndyCar Series as soon as possible.

The following post is an interview that SB Nation's Matt Weaver conducted with Cosworth CEO Hal Reisiger on Friday morning. The topics range from his timetable to join the IndyCar Series and what sort of advantages a partnership with the tour would bring over the next decade.

The full transcript has been provided below.

Matt Weaver: I very much get the impression that Cosworth is intent on returning to the global motorsport stage -- not that y'all went away -- but there have been a lot of changes to the company, right?

Hal Reisiger: I became the CEO seven-plus months ago and my view was that we were a strong individual business. So we expanded on that, recruiting a strong global management team and we angled out of what we would call a peripheral market --sales and marketing is part of it and it is focused on motorsports and the aftermarket.

I believe they are tied together and benefit each other. We are going to be aggressive -- IndyCar being one example. I feel like, before, we were not sufficiently leveraging our complete range of capabilities, ECU management, telemetry to engine design manufacture and assembly.

From an organizational structure and management facilities, it was our perspective to provide and expand our value.

MW: You've brought up IndyCar several times as of late. How inviting is the current spec and the 2.2 liter V6 for Cosworth.

HR: We could have an immediate impact and participate immediately as well. Besides the history of winning 12 Indianapolis 500s and still have staff members involved who participated in Indy car when we were last active in the sport. IndyCar wants another supplier, Honda and GM want a competitor and we're formally speaking to them about it next week.

MW: Cosworth is obviously known for engine production but how well poised will you guys be to play the aero kit game that is arriving next season.

HR: We would typically partner with another entity on matters of aerodynamics. While we're actively involved in windtunnels and working with aerodynamics as it involves the power train, cooling or air flow, that's not something we would try to promote as a core component. But we're definitely interested in partnering with someone to execute that aspect of competition.

MW: What is the process and time table for joining IndyCar?

HR: We have a sense of urgency out our passion and IndyCar has a sense of urgency for obvious reasons we've all heard about. When Indy wants it and other engine suppliers want it, I'm confident there is an OEM (Original Engine Manufacturer) out there who could benefit from a partnership.

Again, we're meeting with IndyCar next week and through our joint effort to sell the series and with Cosworth we can achieve a great deal in IndyCar.

MW: How important of a partner is the Indianapolis 500 for Cosworth?

HR: For us it's important. We can inject another level of enthusiasm for IndyCar as a motorsports program. And if you look at our history and our length of involvement, it looks like it has been a good partnership. Once we find an OEM, everyone will benefit and will speak to our commitment to market the Indianapolis 500.

MW: Is it too early to say which OEMs you are most likely to partner with?

HR: It would be too early. Because -- out of fairness to them -- we're still talking to several different OEMs. We would like to make an announcement within the year. We're committed to doing this but we want to hear from who else would like to be involved.

MW: What is the opinion of IndyCar from your ownership group? I know Gerry Forsythe particularly had a contentious, at times, relationship with the former IRL. Are they fully invested in IndyCar as well?

HR: Yes, definitely. Kevin (Kalkhoven) is actively involved as a team owner and he's committed to IndyCar. Like all team owners he wants to see the best product possible. And while Gerry is not involved as an owner, he is also very energetic about IndyCar. They are enthusiastic want to see the best product on the track.

MW: From your perspective, do you feel like IndyCar is set to enter a new period of prosperity?

HR: I think we're going to see a good product that gets a lot more global awareness in the coming years. You have Mark Miles and Derrick Walker in place -- good people in the management team. They are going to help with brand exposure and I think that IndyCar is going to see a growth as a result.

MW: Why hasn't IndyCar clicked with a mass audience since the merger?

HR: In my humble opinion, it's needed better marketing. They have a good product. For those who are involved and engaged you can't deny it. IndyCar is exciting and it's a fantastic event to attend and they need to get more people exposed to it. And now you have people in place to help grow it.

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