Skip navigation
Sports Cars 15

The Delta Wing makes its track debut

The Delta Wing ran its first test laps last week in secrecy at Buttonwillow Raceway in California.

A distant YouTube video of the car running at Buttonwillow has been posted (below) but everyone connected with the project is sworn to secrecy until the Delta Wing’s engine partner is announced. The announcement is expected to come in a couple of weeks.

sports cars  The Delta Wing makes its track debut

The Delta Wing was driven at Buttonwillow by Alex Gurney and Marino Franchitti and more testing will take place over the next few weeks. Hopes are for the car to make its first demonstration laps prior to the Sebring 12 Hours on March 17. The Delta Wing will make its race debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.

Calls to Delta Wing designer Ben Bowlby, the drivers or Dan Gurney were rebuffed with apologies and a refusal to comment. But a source, who was present at the test, said that the car could not have performed better.

sports cars  The Delta Wing makes its track debut

“It was really impressive,” he said. “The car looked really stable under acceleration and braking, and it turned perfectly. The drivers said the car was very responsive and stable. There was no understeer and a little controllable oversteer. They said the braking was tremendous too and found they could lock-up the rear brakes without any trouble.

“Seems like there may have been some minor electronic problems like you might expect in a first test,” our man added. “But all the systems performed perfectly and everyone seems to be excited and in very good spirits. For a completely new concept, it was a hell of a first test.”

sports cars  The Delta Wing makes its track debut



Add your comments

15 comments on The Delta Wing makes its track debut

  1. Iberian M.P.H., 5 March 2012 09:02

    Amazing! It works!!! Delta for Le Mans win!!!!!!

  2. Nigel (not that one), 5 March 2012 15:42

    How does a driver line up an apex in this thing? you can’t clip it with the front wheels as that would leave the rears 3ft over the kerb so I guess the driver is guessing/aiming the rear wheels at the apex?

    Seems perverse.

  3. Xander, 5 March 2012 16:09

    I’m interested to see more running, and lap times compared to cars with more traditional designs. I’d think the lack of front downforce and grip would create a significant potential for understeer, but maybe the huge rear weight bias effectively counters that.

    Nigel’s question about how I driver will hit an apex is a good one. I’m wondering this as well.

  4. dave cubbedge, 5 March 2012 17:05

    Drivers will adapt to the peculiarities of the car. They did when the engine was moved to the back, no problem. I hope for nothing but success for this original line of thinking, which has been largely missing from motorsport since the 1970s.

  5. Rich Ambroson, 5 March 2012 23:35

    Count me in with those hoping this is a successful new direction. It’s great to see new ideas at least being tried, that’s for sure.

  6. Grant Giller, 6 March 2012 00:48

    IndyCar really screwed up, to think they could have had these and chose the Dallara instead. This makes the current generation F1 car look like a pig. The attention they would have grabbed would have made F1 sit up and take notice.

  7. Frank Butcher, 6 March 2012 16:29

    Well, it crawled around that corner a brisk walking pace; I didn’t think it would ever achieve that much! Honestly Grant, why would Indycar commit to a full field of these silly looking toy rocket cars?

  8. Ray T, 6 March 2012 18:36

    Frank, the 2012 IndyCar bumper-car look is equally silly, at least this is innovative. Frankly, the new Indycars look like F1 cars with training wheels. At the peak of Indy racing, the sport used to be about extreme innovation, but has de-evolved into NASCAR-like spec racing.
    As for hitting the apex, the driver will simply learn where the virtual front-rear wheel line is.
    Detractors of the “rocket car” miss the important points: these cars will not lose down force in turbulent air, which means racing these cars will not require yellow flags or F1′s DRS to induce fake racing for TV. If anything, a formula based on this design could bring us back to the pre-wing era of racing where braking and drafting are points of passing, not rule changes. The low drag and low weight design is the way we should be thinking about racing as fast, on less fuel, while bringing back the relevance of the driver.

  9. aleksi salonen, 7 March 2012 03:02

    All the best for the Delta Wing team: Looking forward to seeing more on-track action.

  10. Neil Dockray, 8 March 2012 15:54

    Apart from the fact that there appears to be some seriously qualified people involved in this project, then I would just call it a ‘spoof’.
    Just a pity that Reliant are not still in business otherwise they could be looking to clean up in this years BTCC!
    (Anyone tried driving with headlights coming from behind?)

  11. DDT, 10 March 2012 07:55

    If you have read (and understood) anything about the engineering of this car, you would not be skeptical, but excited. The whole thing is outrageously radical from stem to stern.
    I am really tired of race fans who judge a car by its looks. It’s still a little weird looking. but give it to a Pasadena Art Center student for a week with it and it will be winning awards.

    The car has huge down force in the rear, and most of the weight is there or in the center giving it a small moment of intertia. The front tires therefore have a lot of leverage over the center of mass, requring less grip to turn. But that’s no all, the differential is a torque vectoring, which means it can deliver different amounts of torque to each rear by computer control. As the driver turns the wheel, the diff puts extra torque out the OUTSIDE REAR, creating additional torque around the center of interia.
    In the video the car looked to be doing about 90 mph into fairly tight corner. But this is the first test of a 100% new car, They don’t want to wreck it the first day!
    Go Delta!

  12. A.S. Gilbert, 12 March 2012 15:23

    Kudos to Bowlby and Gurney for realizing the Delta Wing, welcome in our cookie cutter world.
    Competition dynamics of it, do provoke some thought. It appears about a metre narrower, at least, across the bows’ than others in a sports car field.
    Defending in traffic this may be a disadvantage, the overtaking car can take earlier position in a disputed corner.
    When the Delta Wing is passing, on mid pack it may be vulnerable to nurfing and chopping, not being as easily located by the defending driver.
    ( So they will say !)
    This was conceived to race in a spec-rule situation against others of type, I recall. How will it play with others?
    Perhaps it’ll run away and hide….!
    Cat among the pigeons then, dare say!.
    The Delta Wing will pull a lot of notice from the non enthusiast press. Reminiscent of Shadow’s go-cart ‘esque Can-Am cars or the Tyrrell P34 six wheeler.
    Organizers of any event where it appears should heavily promote it, it has box office appeal.
    Local media thrive on this type of uniqueness.
    I hope Mattel Hot Wheels have been approached as a sponsor candidate, that connection’s a no-brainer.

  13. Ray T, 12 March 2012 18:54

    “Anyone tried driving with headlights coming from behind?”
    Almost everyone in Rallying or Baja racing.

    “Defending in traffic this may be a disadvantage, the overtaking car can take earlier position in a disputed corner.”

    But the overtaking car will lose down force in close quarters with turbulent air and have more drag down long straights.

    In terms of aesthetics, you can’t slam this concept over F1 in 2012.
    Man, the Deltacar detractors would have hated Can-Am in the late 60s and early 70s.

  14. Neil Dockray, 13 March 2012 15:39

    Have a little bit of knowledge of both Rallying & Baja’s & do not recall headlights being placed behind the driver & more importantly his mirrors. Above his head yes, but imagine nightime @ Le Mans with your own headlights blasting away behind your mirrors.
    Incidentally I just adored the Can-Am Cars in the late 60′s/early 70′s & loved Pete Bryant’s book although McLarens in their beautiful orange livery were my own particular favorites.
    However I must get on with completing the installation the torque vectoring diff in my Reliant Robin in order for the start of the BTCC.

  15. Martin Saunders., 18 April 2012 10:15

    Motor sport always was and always should be the seed bed of innovation. Sadly in nearly every sphere from F1 to Indycar and NASCA etc the rule makers do all they can to kill innovation and creativity. Very short sighted!. We are at a point in time where we really need some alternative thinking. Well done to Delta wing and the LMS /ALMA for having the fore sight. If only FI could do the same.

Similar content


Corvette’s great day at Long Beach


Olly Gavin on Corvette’s double podium at Long Beach and his fun weekend at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting


Buemi’s season gets underway


Sébastien Buemi on the start of the Formula 1 and World Endurance Championship seasons


McQueen vs Newman


Andrew Frankel compares the two most successful Hollywood stars to get behind the wheel of a race car



Gordon Kirby

Read Gordon's profile and more …