This week, the IZOD IndyCar Series unveiled mockups of next-generation cars that preview what fans will see lined up on the grid at ovals and road/street circuits starting in 2012. All of the new cars will share a common Dallara-built rolling chassis element, known as the IndyCar Safety Cell, but have distinctly different looks depending on a given race venue.
The pair shown here are clad in body kits that officially comply with the new rules, the most prominent revisions being evident in the sidepod contours, shape and scale of the rear wings and the introduction of protective structures around the rear tires to help prevent potentially dangerous interlocking wheel-to-wheel contact. However, Tony Cotman, project manager for the 2012 car, pointed out that information gleaned from on-track testing due to start in August is destined to lead to potentially significant refinements -- particularly in the rear section of the cars -- before any final road/oval configurations are approved.
While the 2012 season will still see the current Honda-sourced 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V8 give way to a new iteration of 2.2-liter turbocharged engines of up to six cylinders supplied by Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus, a recent consensus vote by team principals led IndyCar officials to hold off on allowing individuals to create or contract for unique body kits until 2013. Even with the one-season delay, Cotman is optimistic about the implementation of this much-needed innovation that will also allow teams to fit up to two different body kits each year, should they choose to do so. "There is a lot of room for aerodynamic kit development and that's what this platform is about -- allowing people the freedom to design as they wish, dream as they wish and come up with a superior product than others, Cotman noted. "That's what drives competition."
Sam Garrett, Dallara's U.S.-based quality control leader advises that these initial mockups reflect "some of the things we could be doing on these cars. We have a plan and it's all coming together. About 95 percent of the parts of the car are in production, and we'll be assembling the prototype car shortly. By August, we'll already have to be into the production run for the first 30 or 40 cars of parts."