In a move that promises to launch a competition renaissance -- and to do so in a much more cost-effective manner -- organizers of the IZOD IndyCar Series today fitted the last piece of the 2012 puzzle into place by unveiling a new chassis design that opens the door for a host of creative variations on its basic theme.

During the past several months, a dedicated panel of experts reviewed designs from BAT Engineering, Dallara Automobili, DeltaWing Racing Cars, Lola and Swift Engineering before making their final recommendation to go with the rolling chassis submitted by Dallara, provider of the virtually "spec" IndyCar in use today. While this new racer isn't nearly as radical as the eponymously named DeltaWing Concept displayed at the Chicago Auto Show, it will be significantly lighter (185 pounds) and provide even more protection for the driver thanks to an enhanced safety cell and a new anti-wheel lock feature. In addition to being priced at $349,000 -- 45 percent less than today's car -- this dual-purpose road/oval chassis will allow individual teams and manufacturers to develop their own unique bodywork and aero packages. Dallara will produce these new cars at a new facility just a few hundred yards away from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Announced last month, power for this new generation of IZOD IndyCars will come from an equally new strain of turbocharged engines with up to six cylinders and 2.4-liters of displacement. Running on ethanol, they'll be tuned to put out 550-750 horses depending on the circuit. The push-to-pass overtake assist system will continue to be part of the 2012 mix, and regulated to provide up to 100 extra ponies for a limited period of time.

"We are very pleased with the outcome of the search for our 2012 car as we feel we've met our objective of opening the door to competition and creating the opportunity for different looking cars to compete on the track," IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard said at the unveiling. "This car puts everything all of our stakeholders want on the racetrack: safety, competition on and off the track, diversity, efficiency and more. The new car also is a cost-effective package that positions the series for tremendous growth and enhances the series' relevancy to future automotive technology, while respecting the tradition of innovation in open-wheel racing."

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