In a bid to streamline its various processes in racing engine design enhancements and its eventual application to production car models, General Motors recently announced the opening of its all new GM Powertrain Performance and Racing Center. Located in the Pontiac, Michigan campus, the new facility will house the soon-to-be relocated Performance and Racing team currently housed in their Racing Center in Wixom, Michigan facility.
The new center is part of the $200 million investment of the Pontiac campus and is now directly connected to GM’s Global Powertrain Engineering Center. Comprised of nearly 100 engineers, engine builders and support staff, the Performance and Racing team is mainly responsible for developing new engine designs for NASCAR, NHRA, IndyCar, and IMSA, among others. On the other hand, the Global Powertrain Engineering group is in charge for the production of powertrains for production vehicles.
Dan Nicholson, VP for General Motors Global Powertrain applauds the move. Nicholson observes that with the two divisions within easy reach, the set up offers faster communication between racing engineers and powertrain engineers allowing faster integration of racing tested new technologies to mainstream vehicle production. Nicholson added that “we race to win and learn” which means that racing ultimately benefits the end customers with better performing and safer vehicles.
Once the center becomes fully operational, it will be capable of design release, full CNC machining, engine build, electronics and telematics, dyno validation and calibration. Jim Campbell, GM US VP of Performance Vehicle and Motorsports expressed optimism that Chevrolet, a GM division, will continue its winning spree this year after having earned six manufacturer and five driver championships last year.
Campbells appreciates the new center’s role in the company’s efforts in races and championships, noting that the new center has the crucial role of producing the perfect racing powertrain that is capable of delivering performance, durability and efficiency in just the right mix.
The new center will be responsible for the development and production of the following engines:
- NASCAR “R07” – designed and developed exclusively for NASCAR Sprint Cup race, this is a 358-cubic-inch V8 engine;
- IndyCar 2.2L Twin Turbo V6 – uses high-boost turbochargers to generate 700 HP from a relatively small-displacement direct injection V8;
- NHRA COPO Camaro V-8 engines – offers the option to choose between supercharged or naturally aspirated LS- and LT- engines, planned to be used in the 2016 COPO Camaro in NHRA’s Stock and Super Stock eliminations;
- Corvette Racing 5.5L V8 – naturally aspirated all aluminum 5.5L v8 engines used by Corvette Racing C7 R team;
- Cadillac ATSV R Twin Turbo – an engine based on production model’s 3.6L twin turbo.
The new facility will also develop high performance crate engines and powertrain systems being offered by Chevrolet Performance.
A perfect example of the efficiency of a clean-sheet design, the new facility makes it easier for performance and racing engine builders to retrieve parts resulting in faster engine turnaround time.
The center’s new design incorporates state-of-the –art calibration, engine assembly and testing equipment in a layout that allows enhanced workflow between assembly and testing areas. Nicholson expressed excitement on the possibilities in process development for the new facility.
He proudly cites the move as a merger between the best team – composed of the best engineers and engine builders available - with the best powertain development facility in the auto industry.
Engine assembly – The facility houses 10 engine build bays with two bays assigned as a prep area prior to dyno testing and eight bays assigned for actual engine building activities. Specialized high-tech tools such as programmable torque wrenches are at their disposal, ensuring the production of consistently built engines.
Each bay is quite spacious at 120 square feet and each is equipped with overhead cranes for easy engine loadings and comes equipped with an air drop of powertools needed to get the job done. Additional high tech specialized tools include ROMER Arm coordinate measuring machines and Cam Doctor precise camshaft evaluators.
Machining – The new facility offers complete machining capability for cylinder blocks, cylinder heads, various engine components and fuel rails comparable to the best shops in the racing industry.
This is achieved with the more than 30 machining tools available to engineers and builders: nine CNC machines with the amazing capability of directly transforming designs into new components, a new Hurco five-axis machine, 3D printer for constructing new or modified components, as well as laser scanners that can measure the accuracy of part placements needed in the demanding racing environs.
Engine Testing – The new facility comes equipped with latest technology AVL engine dynamometer for the sole use by the Performance and Testing Group: Two gas-powered engine dynos; One gas-powered driveline dyno; One new electric driveline dyno.
To test axle differentials for NASCAR and Indycar units, GM powertrain acquired these new gas and electric driveline dynos, each with a capability of more than 1,000HP and around 560lb-ft of torque drive input. Meanwhile, 885 HP and 2,500 lb-ft of torque is their drive output capability.
Although the two gas engine dynos are similar to those used in the production engine lines, they are calibrated slightly differently due to the higher output requirement for racing engines.
Calibration – To tame the awesome power of the high performance engines, the newly opened facility is likewise equipped with an electronics lab solely dedicated for the design, calibration and assembly of custom control systems necessary for the precision control needed in race tracks.
In addition, the hi tech dynos are capable of using data from these controls systems to replay the engine performance of an entire race which could lead to new engine developments or at least the recalibration of existing ones to further enhance performance.
Entering into the facility’s new and airy lobby, one is greeted with mementos showcasing GM contribution and legacy in motorsports. A conference center with a capacity of up to 125 people is available and can be used by racing teams, suppliers, clubs and organizations.