In 1979, Porsche announced that it would contest the Indianapolis 500 the following year. Preparations began as early as the end of 1978. The engine was to be produced by Porsche, and the chassis was to be developed together with the Interscope team. As Porsche already has a proven reliable and powerful engine in their 935 endurance racing flat-six, only slight modifications would be necessary for eligibility at Indianapolis. The 2.65 litre engine could be driven at speeds over 9000 rpm. It also achieved the highest specific output of over 341 hp per liter displacement. While the information was never truly made public, it is believed that Porsche’s engine was capable of producing north of 800 horsepower. A more stable total output of around 630 hp was intended for racing, allowed them to use significantly higher boost pressures than their competition.

Interscope’s chassis designed by Roman Slobodinskij was a standard aluminum construction monocoque with a tubular rear drivetrain subframe. The design was similar to Parnelli chassis used by Interscope Racing before. The Interscope Racing team was founded by Frederick Woodruff “Ted” Field, an American media mogul, record executive, entrepreneur and film producer. Interscope Racing started off entering Danny Ongais in Formula 5000 in 1975, graduating to USAC racing and the Indianapolis 500 in Parnelli chassis. Field also funded Ongais to make occasional Formula One outings in a Penske during the 1977 season.

In early spring of 1980, Porsche had already conducted several successful private tests of their new Indy contender.  These tests included an outing at Ontario Motor Speedway in California where the new car shattered the track record.  This was important, primarily because Ontario boasted a near identical copy of Indianapolis’ layout.  These tests were only witnessed by Ongais who drove, Field who owned the car, and a handful of Porsche and Interscope team engineers, though it is rumored that spies and informants from other teams were also secretly in attendance.

Decidedly worried that the new Porsche engine was the better of the Cosworth engine in his car, A.J. Foyt began lobbying with USAC to reduce Porsche’s allowable boost levels.  Porsche Motorsport had built the engine to produce the allowable maximum of 54 inHg (about 1.83 bar), and Foyt wanted to have the engine restricted to 48 inHg (about 1.62 bar). USAC, until this point, had been hopeful that Porsche would become another factory engine supplier to the series, offering off-the-shelf solutions for other teams wishing to install Porsche engines in their own chassis.  When the Foyt protest was lodged, USAC asked Porsche whether they would be capable of providing engines for teams other than Interscope, the motorsport department responded that they were capable, but uninterested in doing so. After Porsche’s reply, the USAC board of directors voted to lower the allowable intake pressure for the Porsche engine to 48 inches, causing a great decrease in the engine’s maximum power output.  Finding themselves less than a month from the Indy 500 without a competitive engine, Porsche declared their withdrawal from the 500 with immediate effect, citing a lack of time to test at the new lower boost pressure as their reason.  The project was shelved, and Interscope team then went with Parnelli chassis and Cosworth V8 engine.

Ongais finished 7th at 1980 Indy 500 with this Interscope’s Parnelli – Cosworth. In 1981 Ongais was entered at Indy with original Interscope chassis powered by Cosworth. He led the race but crashed and was critically injured. In 1982 recovered Ongais gave the last start at Indianapolis but that too ended with an accident. Ongais drove for Interscope in CART until 1987 using March and Penske chassis. In 1996 after a 9-year hiatus from racing, Ongais was asked by John Menard to fill in for Scott Brayton who was killed during Friday Practice for the 1996 Indianapolis 500. Under qualifying rules he had to start 33rd, Ongais finished 7th. He was the oldest driver to compete in that field, at age 54. He ran his last Indy Car race the next year, in the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World, with Chitwood Motorsports, where he finished 13th. In 1998 he attempted to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 with Team Pelfrey but was unable to do so when he suffered a concussion after a crash.

1980CART / USAC National Championship
Driver No.Entrant
Danny Ongais25Interscope Racing
ChassisEngineCar Name
Interscope IR01PorscheInterscope – Porsche
Scale ManufacturerCollection
1:43True Scale
Cat. No.QualityRarity