Denver Automotive Machine Shop Specialists




Ilmor got its start in 1983 when two engineers, Swiss-born Mario Illien and British native Paul Morgan living in a small village 70 miles north of London, England, sent a hand-written letter to American businessman and racing team owner Roger Penske. They proposed a new company to design and build turbocharged engines for the American-based Indy Car series. Within three months, with Penske’s backing, Ilmor Engineering was born.

Illien, Morgan and Penske were a near-perfect combination: brilliant and imaginative men with skills that complimented one another. While Illien was considered the design wizard, Morgan made certain those designs were manufactured to the infinitesimal tolerances required for reliable, winning engines. Penske secured the necessary start-up capital but also gave the fledgling company access to his highly successful Indy Car race team. Several months after work had begun on the design of the engine, Roger Penske was able to convince General Motors to fund the completion of the all-new eight-cylinder turbocharged ‘Chevrolet’ engine. In 1986, four-time Indy winner Al Unser became the first to race with the Ilmor-designed engine and soon after, at Long Beach in April 1987, Mario Andretti was the first to win a race for the company. The Ilmor Chevrolet engine rapidly became the dominant engine in Indy racing, winning multiple championships and Indy 500s with stunning performance and reliability.

In 1993, Chevrolet opted to withdraw from open-wheel racing, but Ilmor soon found a new partner: MercedesBenz. The Ilmor-Mercedes partnership made a huge initial splash with the introduction of a very special ‘pushrod’ engine built specifically for the Indy 500. The MB-500I was perhaps the most powerful and innovative engine in the nearly 100-year history of the historic race. Al Unser Jr. drove it to victory in 1994. Following the event, the rules were revised and the technical advantages of the engine were lost. Riding high on our Indy success, Ilmor partnered with Mercedes-Benz to design and develop a Formula One engine that went on to win the F1 World Championship with McLaren in ’98 and ’99.


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