The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series oval concept car, and the road/street course model were unveiled today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The mock-ups, exactly what 2012 car project manager Tony Cotman wanted to display, will be in the Pagoda Plaza at IMS through the May 29th Indianapolis 500. Cotman addressed the media today during the event. "There is a lot of room for aerodynamic kit development and that’s what this platform is about; allowing people the freedom to design as they wish, dream as they wish and come up with a superior product than others. That’s what drives competition."
A rolling chassis that is now known as the IndyCar Safety Cell will be the universal feature of the next generation car, with bodywork open to development and sale by any approved manufacturer. Three engine companies (Honda, Chevrolet, and Lotus) will dress up the IndyCar Safety Cell and aero kit programs, which will create different looks.
It is important for fans to know that these are not exactly what Dallara’s kits are going to look like on road courses and ovals next year.
“The display cars are mock-ups of some of the things we could be doing on these cars,” said Sam Garrett, Dallara’s U.S.-based quality control leader. "By August, we’ll already have to be into the production run for the first 30 or 40 cars of parts.”
Even though they are still a ways away from looking how they will once the aero kits are available, the cars are already getting a lot of buzz. Most of the drivers are being mostly positive in regards to the new designs, which shouldn't come as a surprise. It would be interesting to know how they really feel.
Many people are comparing the oval concept car to a classic. It looks as though it has a fin that reminds many people of the 1956 Novi. The prototype is scheduled for testing in August.
The road/street course model looks similar to some of the Formula One cars that have been on display in recent years. It actually has been referenced to the Panoz DP01 that Cotman designed for the final year of the Champ Car World Series.
As far as the oval concept car, Mike Conway said that it was "interesting", which you can take either way. It looks good in some areas, while other areas make you stop and think.
Fellow writer Christopher Leone may have said it best in his latest article when he said "The side pods almost look backwards compared to the current car, with the fin formerly placed in front of the rear wheel being moved up to about where the driver sits. The new side pod seems to emphasize sponsor visibility, but at the cost of the aesthetic."
Obviously the biggest concern with these cars is the cost to the teams, and the ability to distinguish the appearance and designs from one team to another. It will create more competition, allowing people to take their ideas from paper to product.
The situation the series faces now is, do they go ahead and keep racing ugly spec cars where the fans may not show up, or do they put things back in the owners hands and pray for the best? The need for the aero kits is apparent now more than ever. Without the different kits available for the teams to use, we are right back in the same boat that we found ourselves in 2003.