(photo courtesy of an OOOOLD entry on motorsport.com)
This is just a little idea I had for some friendly discussion. Anyone who really knows a lot about racing knows that looks are the last thing that designers should worry about when designing a new racecar. Safety first, then performance, then looks IF your design will allow for some stylistic tweaks without compromising one of the previous.
But looks of a racecar are always an intriguing discussion because of the vastly differing opinions on what looks good and what doesn't.
F1 cars are a great example. Many thought all of odd protrusions on the old cars were hideous. Others, like myself, quite liked them. I think last year's BMW was one of the coolest F1 designs EVER.
Likewise, this year's designs have brought up some interesting discussions. Many despise the looks of all of the new cars, some(like me) think they all look pretty good while racing for honors. Most of us have a car or two in the new designs that we at least think is reasonable in the looks department, though, and that's where things get interesting.
Every F1 car this year has a unique aesthetic about it, which is why opinions are so diverse.
On the IndyCar side, we're currently saddled with but one car: The Dallara. Popular opinion is that it's hideous, but there is a small sect who think it's quite good-looking. I'm of a small sect that hate the oval trim (it made my Top 10 Ugliest Open-Wheelers list), but think the road course/short oval trim isn't half-bad.
At the same time, many praise the Panoz DP01 as one of the best-looking open-wheelers of all time. God knows I'm one of them.
But there's also the Panoz G-Force—the better—looking IRL car that sadly just couldn't keep up with the Dallara. The Panoz losing to the Dallara underlines the lack of importance of the looks when it comes to competition.
As I've said in the past, the new IRL car will need to perform well on ovals AND road courses, as well as be extremely safe.
We have to cross our fingers and hope the result will also look good, but most of us will agree it won't take much to make it look better than the Dallara. I not long ago opined that chopping off the airbox would make the Dallara a lot better-looking.
But what do YOU want to see in the new IRL's cars looks? Turbos are almost guaranteed to be the engine, so some will certainly push to have the airbox removed, but that's not really a necessity.
Formula Palmer Audi and the new Formula Two cars are turbocharged, but maintain an airbox in order to increase the cooling of the engine and turbo. It's certainly a more aesthetically-pleasing design than those offset air intakes that Formula Three cars use.
To kick things off, take a look the above picture. Recognize that car? No? Well, I'm not surprised. it's the Falcon 01-A, and it was a new IRL chassis that was made available for the 2003 season.
So why haven't you heard of it? Because it never raced. The Dallara and G-Force chassis were well-proven, so even though they got a serious overhaul that year (2003 was when the Dallara became what it currently is), all the teams were keen to stick with them.
As you can see, the Falcon is radically different from not only the G-Force and the Dallara, but from ANY open-wheeler that has ever seen an oval.
It's a shame it never got the chance, because it certainly looks like it's capable of going quite fast. And it is, without a doubt, FAR more stylish than the Dallara and the G-Force. In fact...I'd say it's better-looking than any other open-wheeler.
The fact that it never raced is the only thing that kept it off of my Top 10 Coolest Open-Wheelers list.
Why does it look so good? Even though it was designed well before the Panoz DP01, it looks like the best details of the DP01 were combined with the best details of the Dallara, and then smoothed out into a perfect shape.
And that thing is shown in speedway trim. Imagine it in a short oval/road course trim. Personally, it may be a longshot, but I'd love it if the new IRL car came out looking something like that.
But more realistically, we'll probably get something closer in appearance to the Swift FN09. Which wouldn't necessarily be a BAD thing.
Now come on, spill it out. What do YOU want the new IRL car to look like?