The IndyCar Series has decided to continue with Dallara as its spec car manufacturer for 2012-15. Dallara has committed to build its Indycars at a new facility in Speedway, Indiana and the company will receive tax breaks from the city and state governments worth US$5 million. IndyCar hopes to bring variety to the table by encouraging other car or engine builders to design their own unique aerodynamic platform – front and rear wings, sidepods and engine cover.
“The team owners wanted cost-efficiency and the fans wanted to see different cars on the race track,” said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. “The fans didn’t want a single car, spec series and we’ve been able to deliver those things. We will encourage other car manufacturers to build their own aero packages and bring variety to the series, and we’re going to be pushing with the auto manufacturers. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve started on our path.”
The 2012 Dallara’s price has been pegged at US$385,000, a 45 per cent reduction over the current car. Dallara’s aero kit is priced at US$36,000 and aero kits produced by other manufacturers may cost no more than US$70,000. Dallara has also agreed to a US$150,000 discount for the first 28 cars bought by teams located in Indiana. “We’re expecting a significant increase in the life of the parts,” said IndyCar competition boss Brian Barnhart. “This will result in an overall reduction in running costs of nearly 50 per cent. Any manufacturer can produce the aero kits for the chassis, however the parts must receive approval from the series, fit within certain price parameters, be available to all teams, and undergo safety testing. Each team will be allowed to race two different aero kits during the season.”
‘Iconic’ committee member Tony Purnell said of the decision to continue with Dallara: “It was a holistic approach, it was not one thing. When we stepped back from the various proposals and presentations we felt Dallara had the complete package. We were very comfortable going forward with them. They addressed every aspect we asked them to and did it with gusto.”
The first new Dallara rolling chassis is scheduled to be ready in October 2011, with deliveries to teams starting in December. Team owner and ‘Iconic’ committee member Gil de Ferran said IndyCar hopes to embrace multiple car builders in the future.
“There was certainly a lot of discussion on that front,” he said. “We were looking at this decision not only for the short term from 2012-15, but essentially laying the groundwork for the long-term future of the series. One of the beauties of this concept is that the framework is there to continue to free it up if the environment allows us to do so. The important thing is we were not choosing any specific car but creating a new concept and approach to solve what on the face of it are very conflicting requirements.”
Bernard admits it will take a year or two to attract new engine manufacturers and aero kit builders. “We have to be realistic and not set our expectations too high. Our goal was to be looking at the long-term and we knew that engine and chassis manufacturers were under deadlines right now. So we think it’s going to be pretty darn hard to see other engine manufacturers by 2012. We’re optimistic but our goal is to have some interest from other engine and aero manufacturers in 2013.”
The 2012 Indycars will named according to the manufacturer of either the bodywork or aero kit. “If Team Penske does a kit, it will be a Penske Indycar,” explained Brian Barnhart. “If Lola builds a kit, it will be a Lola Indycar. We encourage Lola or Swift or anyone to design aero kits. It’s certainly a fraction of the cost compared to designing a complete car. We think it’s an inclusive invitation to every manufacturer out there.”
It will be interesting to see how the theory works in reality. As ever, we’re hoping for the best.