Panther Racing has become the latest IndyCar team to opt for Chevrolet engines in 2012, when the era of Honda exclusivity in the series comes to an end.
Panther joins Penske and Andretti Autosport in signing for Chevrolet from the start of next season, while Honda itself has already signed up Chip Ganassi Racing, AJ Foyt Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports as customer teams for its engines.
The third engine supplier slated to provide power plants to cars next season, Lotus, are yet to announce any teams that have signed with them, although they plan to field Jean Alesi in a Lotus-powered car in next year's Indianapolis 500.
Panther's signing with Chevrolet marks a return to the General Motors fold, a combination that saw the team take two IndyCar championships in 2001 and 2002 with Sam Hornish Jr. Panther was the last team to be powered by Chevrolet in 2005 before the manufacturer withdrew from the series, and that year captured three pole positions and won at Texas with Tomas Scheckter at the wheel.
"I just couldn't be more excited that Chevrolet has decided to return to IndyCar racing and obviously it's a natural fit for Panther to have Chevrolet powering our cars once again," said Panther Racing's Managing Partner and CEO John Barnes. "Chevy races to win, and so do we, so we're ready to get to work and pick up right where we left off."
"Chevrolet and Panther Racing enjoyed tremendous success together in the past, winning races and winning championships, and we look forward to more success in the future," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's US Vice President for Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. "We're pleased to renew our longstanding relationship with Panther Racing. Both organisations share the same commitment, focus, and dedication to winning."
Panther's main driver JR Hildebrand has a long and personal connection with the engine manufacturer. "I definitely grew up in a Chevy family," he said. "My first real introduction to racing was my dad racing a 1968 Camaro out on the West Coast, so that was always part of my upbringing and it's going to be cool to be part of that Chevrolet family myself now."
The 2012 season will see a new specification of twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V-6 engine to coincide with an all-new IndyCar Safety Cell chassis that will make its début at the season opener at St Petersburg.