Indy Introduces Open-cockpit Windscreen

Rendering of the 2020 Cockpit Protection Innovation between INDYCAR and Red Bull Advanced Technologies. [courtesy IndyCar Media]

Rendering of the 2020 Cockpit Protection Innovation between INDYCAR and Red Bull Advanced Technologies. [courtesy IndyCar Media]

by Allan Brewer

Open wheel racing comes with two major technical flaws: the exposed head of the driver and the turbulent flow of air into and over the driver and cockpit. Sports cars and stock cars have resolved these issues with closed cabins. But what can IndyCar and Formula 1 (indeed all of the open-cockpit competition series) do to minimize the risk of driver head trauma and improve the aerodynamics at mid-car?

IndyCar presented its own solution, one created in partnership with Red Bull Technologies, which puts a formal windscreen around the driver and cockpit. The lightweight, but strong, windscreen attaches on a stanchion placed into the previous location of the advanced frontal protection device. The AFP device itself becomes obsolete, replaced by the new wrap-around cowl.

Notably the windscreen is fairly tall, tall enough to extend to the height of the top of the drivers’ helmet. It is meant to be looked through, like the windscreen on a street car; which brings us to an immediate objection raised by one of Indianapolis’ most-practiced and respected figures, Johnny Rutherford.

“What do you do when that windscreen gets covered with oil?” he asked. We will have windscreen tear-offs, came the answer.

“So you have to pit?” asked Rutherford, correctly assuming that a tear-off that large could not be accommodated at speed by the driver.

Yes, came the answer to which Rutherford groaned, writhed in place where he stood and shook his head vigorously “No!”

The proposed windscreen is accompanied by a new driver’s cockpit cooling system to be put in place by Dollar, the chassis manufacturer.

The “Aeroscreen,” as it has been dubbed by IndyCar, is set to debut at the outset of the 2020 IndyCar series season. Testing of the Aeroscreen concept will proceed on-track throughout the coming summer. Teams will continue to use the AFP device for the remainder of 2019.

In construction, the screen is a combination of titanium framework and polycarbonate window covered in an anti-reflective coating and embedded with anti-fogging technology. Its multiple attachment points to the chassis enhance its load strength: at the midline where the AFP used to reside, to the roll bar and two rear/side mounts.

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