Indycar deadline looms…

Indycar

On Wednesday, Indycar will announce its ‘Future Car Strategy’ – the chassis and aerodynamic part of its 2012 formula. Indycar CEO Randy Bernard’s ‘Iconic’ committee will cast its final vote that morning and Bernard will reveal the decision just after noon at the Museum of Art in Indianapolis. Meanwhile the drivers have made it clear what they would prefer from the new car and engine combination.

Most drivers want more power, certainly on road and street circuits, and a car much like the old CART or Champ Cars that produced most of their downforce from the underwing. They would prefer a car with small external wings that could run more closely to the car in front, allowing more passing – aided by the boost from the new turbocharged engines agreed to last month.

2007 Champ Car Panoz DP01 chassis testing

“They’ve got to have 750 horsepower-plus,” says championship leader Will Power. “That’ll make the racing better because it’ll be harder to drive and the cars will look more spectacular. It also mean the tyres will go off [sooner].”

Scott Dixon believes a substantially bigger push-to-pass power boost will be available with a turbocharged engine. “I think the idea is to have a push-to-pass with the turbo that actually gives you a large amount of power, kinda like Champ Car did,” says Dixon. “So that could make for more passing. For me, the car needs to be a ton lighter. The current car is a bit of a heavy thing. Being a lot lighter will make it safer too because you won’t hit the wall as hard.”

2007 Champ Car Panoz DP01 Chassis

Dixon also wants to see more freedom in the aero rules. “Adjustability is the key,” he says. “All this specifying of the wing angle is just wrong. There needs to be room in the rules for adjustability so different drivers and teams are able to run different strategies.”

Everyone agrees on this point, Dario Franchitti included: “You’ve got to have room for adjustment, so if you want to put downforce on you can or if you want to run lighter downforce you can. We’ll be able to do that if we have more power as we’re supposed to.”

Will Power remains a fan of the Panoz DP01 he raced in 2007, Champ Car’s last year. The DP01 produced most of its downforce from the underwing and had much smaller external wings than the current Dallara. “We had pretty good racing with the Panoz,” says Power. “To me, they need to develop a lot more downforce from the floor and have smaller wings like the Panoz. The most turbulent air comes from the wings, and the bigger the wings, the more turbulent the air.”

2007 Champ Car Panoz DP01 chassis testing

Franchitti emphasized that it’s difficult to create a package that works well on Indycar’s wide range of tracks. “It’s tough to make a car that works on road and street courses, and on the one-and-a-half-mile tracks and short ovals and at Indianapolis too. You’ve got all these different combinations which have different requirements. It’s not an easy decision. I suppose it depends as well on is it going to be just one chassis or are they going to open it up? If they open it up to multiple chassis that will change things.”

On Wednesday, the concept of the Indycar of the future will be revealed. Next comes the devilish detail, determining the car’s specifics and writing a workable, equitable rulebook. Wednesday’s announcement is the next step in Randy Bernard’s giant mission to recreate and rebuild Indycar racing.

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