DETROIT -- The technological trends that are shrinking engines in the showroom are also downsizing cutting-edge powerplants at the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar racing circuit.
Designers of Indy engines as well as production engines are wringing power out of smaller, lighter, high-tech powerplants. Honda and Chevrolet provided the engines used last Sunday in the Indy 500 race, and this weekend's Chevrolet Indy Dual races in Detroit.
The turbocharged engines that raced on Sunday, all V-6s, displaced only 2.2 liters, about the same as a typical compact car. In 2000, the Indy engines displaced 4.0 liters.
For the showroom, Ford Motor Co. has been replacing its older engines with turbocharged, direct-injected three-, four- and six-cylinder powerplants. The new engines make more power per liter and weigh less than the larger ones they replace.
Volkswagen, General Motors, BMW and other automakers also have introduced downsized turbocharged engines. The base engine in the 2013 BMW 3 series, for instance, is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 180 hp. It replaced a 3.0-liter inline-six.
Honda Motor Co. is using some of the same direct-injection parts in racing engines and the new flagship RLX sedan, said Art St. Cyr, Honda's vice president of product development.
"The technology of turbocharging and downsizing can help us meet CAFE and customer fuel-economy expectations," St. Cyr said.
Racing engines run on a blend of E-85 fuel that is close to what is sold at many filling stations.
At GM, racing helps its engineers improve the company's production engines two ways, said Chevrolet spokesman Mike Albano. First, engineers analyze racing parts, such as turbochargers, to learn how they perform under extreme conditions. Second, racing helps train engineers.
"We have car engineers embedded alongside racing engineers," Albano said.
But while showroom and racing engines share many trends, racing engines are far more powerful. The engines in Indy race cars are limited to 12,000 rpm and develop 650 hp. They are typically rebuilt every 1,200 miles.
BorgWarner supplies the turbochargers for Chevrolet and Honda engines.
Downsizing hasn't found its way into high-performance street cars -- yet. The 2013 SRT Viper packs an 8.4-liter V-10 rated at 640 hp, about the same as the 2.2-liter engines at the Indy 500.
Ford's Shelby GT500 is powered by a 662-hp 5.8-liter V-8. And the engine in the Indy 500 pace car, a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, is a 450-hp V-8.
At the Indianapolis 500, 17 teams used Chevy engines and 16 ran Honda powerplants.
Tony Kanaan won the 97th Indianapolis 500 race with a Chevrolet engine.
Last year, two Lotus engines raced at Indy, while 16 teams ran Chevrolet engines and 15 teams used Honda engines.
Chevrolet's return to the Izod IndyCar Series last year resulted in victories in 11 of 15 races, with Honda taking four wins, including last year's Indy 500.
Chevrolet was banking on the Corvette's appearance at the Indy 500 to get people used to the new car's styling. The rear-end treatment has been a source of debate among Corvette fans. Many have been critical of the car's square Camaro-inspired taillights.
The Indy 500 averaged about 5.7 million viewers during its televised run, according to Nielsen ratings provided by ESPN Communications.
Says Chevrolet spokesman Monte Doran: "The best thing and the worst is that people are incredibly passionate about the Corvette. Change makes them uncomfortable. But when people see the Stingray, their concerns go away."
Like the race cars, the Stingray has a direct-injection fuel system and paddle shifters for the transmissions.
The Corvette has been the Indy 500 pace car 12 times since 1978.