Photo by Ron McQueeney courtesy of IndyCar Series
New Chassis Specs Announced For 2012 Indy Car
by Mary Champion
Wednesday, July 14 - The Indy Racing League today announced the long-awaited new chassis specifications for the 2012 season and beyond.
After much deliberation and industry speculation, the new chassis for the IZOD Indy Car Series will be built by current series chassis manufacturer, Dallara, and will be produced in Speedway, Ind.
The unique feature that was highlighted, is that only the chassis, known as the IndyCar safety cell, will be produced by Dallara, and the aero kit (the body) is open to production by racing, automotive and aerospace companies, in order to produce a number of different looks and aerodynamic features in body styles.
The new design concept approved by the ICONIC (Innovative, Competitive, Open-Wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-Effective) Committee is based on the principles of safety, raceability, cost-effectiveness, efficiency, relevant technology, being American-made and green and having modern looks.
The cost of the new chassis is targeted to be about $345,00 for the cell, with the complete car cost to be about $385,000, approximately a 40% reduction from current costs.
The IndyCar Safety Cell, produced by Dallara, will feature improved visibility, head, leg and back protection, and advanced padding and ergonomics. Anther safety concept incorporated is a wheel-interlock prevention system, which will allow cars to run side-by-side while limiting the chance for wheels locking, and the subsequent risk for cars getting airborne.
The chassis is designed to be used on all types of tracks the IZOD IndyCar Series runs on, eliminating the need for two different types of chassis, one for ovals and one for street/road courses.
The new car will also be lighter than the current IndyCar, with a projected minimum weight of 1,380 pounds, about 200 pounds lighter than the current specifications.
The new aero kits, will dress the car with different body work, including front and rear wings, side pods, engine covers and more, will have to be approved by the IZOD IndyCar Series prior to production.
The maximun cost of each aero kit will be pegged at $70,000. Each team will be allowed to run two different approved aero kits during the season. All approved aero kit parts produced must be available to all teams and undergo approved safety testing by the IZOD IndyCar Series.
ICONIC Committee member, Tony Purnell, founder of Pi Research, former technical representative to the FIA, and former head of Ford's Premiere Performance Division, enthusiastically endorsed the concept of various aero kits.
"Come on Ford, GM, Lotus, Ferarri. Come on Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Electric. Come on you engineers working in your garage or in small shops. We've done our best to provide a framework for all of you to showcase your technical prowess without a need for a major raid on your piggy banks. We want you guys involved, all of you," Purnell said.
The announcement today completes the technical package outline for the IZOD Indy Car Series for 2012 and beyond.
The new engine specs for the Series were announced on June 2. The announced recommendations were for an engine package featuring a maximum of six cylinders, as well as a maximum displacement of 2.4 cubic liters.
The ethanol-fueled engines will produce between 550 and 700 horsepower to suit the diverse set of tracks in the Series. The engines will be turbocharged to allow for flexability in power and will have an overtake assist (push to pass) time-limited gain of up to 100 horsepower.
The entire chassis, aero kit, and engine will be approximately $1 million per car, about a 40% reduction from the current cost.
IZOD Indy Car Series president of competition and racing operations, and ICONIC Committee member, Brian Barnhart, summed up the development of the new chassis and engine package.
"Our goal was to maintain the IZOD IndyCar Series as the fastest and most versatile racing in the world," he said. "This strategy achieves the different looks that fans wanted while maintaining the close, intense racing that occurs at every IZOD IndyCar Series event, whether on a superspeedway, short oval, road course or a street circuit. A new car also levels the playing field, giving more teams a chance to succeed and generating more excitement for our fans.
"The significant reduction in the price of the new car is very important, as it helps to maintain economic stability for our teams as we transition to a new car. It also creates a more attractive avenue for new teams to enter the series," he concluded.