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How Modern IndyCars Make So Much Power From Such Tiny Engines

Road & Track logo Road & Track 6/19/2019 Brian Silvestro
IndyCar turbo V-6s make over 700 horsepower from just 2.2 liters of displacement. Here's how it's done.© Getty Images IndyCar turbo V-6s make over 700 horsepower from just 2.2 liters of displacement. Here's how it's done.

In IndyCar, engine manufacturers have to comply with a strict set of rules that define displacement, cylinder count, and boost levels. Currently, the only engine configuration allowed is a twin-turbocharged 2.2-liter V-6. Here's how teams are able to squeeze more than 700 horsepower from such a small motor. 

As Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained shows in his latest video, it comes down to two main factors. The first is RPM. IndyCar engines can rev all the way to 12,000 RPM-far higher than your average road car engine. That means more power strokes per minute, without valve float or knock.

The second is fuel. IndyCar rules don't set a fuel limit, meaning manufacturers can dump as much fuel as they feel necessary into the engine. The cars also run on E85, which packs more energy versus something like 93 octane.

Fenske also points out that IndyCar engines don't have to be built to last an entire three-year warranty period-just the length of a race. That means builders can take more risks and use tighter tolerances that might fail over an elongated period.

That stuff is just scratching the surface. Check out Fenske's video to get the finer details.

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