A Glimpse Into The Future
Robin Miller, Lindy Thackston and Kevin Lee have certainly set the bar awfully high in their first two shows of IndyCar Open Wheel Weekly on Versus. Last week they had Randy Bernard breaking the news of the owner’s desires regarding the aero kits. Yesterday, they featured Tony Cotman unveiling the long anticipated 2012 IndyCar chassis. It sort of makes you wonder what they’ll do for an encore next week, when practice is underway for the 95th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Overall, I’d have to say I liked the car. I thought it evoked a certain amount of sexiness. We have to remember that this is by no means, a final version. It’s more of a concept mock up that was built to give us something to talk about. There wasn’t much that surprised me, but there were a couple of things that caught me off guard.
On the positive side, I loved the front-end. I thought the raised pointed nose looked sleek and very graceful. I also liked the front wing treatment on both configurations that were represented – the speedway and road course versions. The inlets around the sidepod openings gave a nice flow to the overall design. The presentation was helped with a colorful paint scheme that gave it the look of a car ready to hit the track. One wonders if the DeltaWing would have been more favorably received, had they not made it a solid casket gray – probably not, but the boring scheme didn’t help the cause of that ill-fated design.
For the negatives – and yes, I had a few – I’m still not crazy about the idea of the rear wheels being partially enclosed. I understand the safety behind the concept, but I’ve always felt that it was the danger of running too close to the other car that set open-wheel racing apart from other forms of racing. It’s another factor that stock car drivers don’t need to worry about as they follow their “rubbin’ is racin’” philosophy. Open-wheel drivers must take the risk into account before choosing to run so close to a competitor. Maybe I’m too old school, but I’m not in favor of enclosing the wheels at all. I heard people make comparisons to a sports car when talking about the enclosed rear wheels. To me, it more closely resembled a Mickey Thompson Skate from the early sixties. That’s really not a compliment.
I was also not fond of the bulbous sidepod on the “oval” version of the car. Hopefully, that won’t make its way onto the final version. In fact, I liked the road course version better than the oval version, which is odd for me. I liked the sidepod treatment of the road course version and the overall appearance of the car.
I also have a question regarding the airbox above the driver. Is that necessary or a benefit with turbocharged engines? I am not a mechanical engineer, but I’ve never cared for the look of an airbox over a driver and I thought we would be getting away from that, so if that’s something we’re still going to have – that’s a disappointment.
But in my opinion, the biggest drawback of all is the presence of the dorsal wing over the engine cowling. Roger Penske introduced the shark fin on his cars in the second race of the 1994 season. By Indianapolis, two-thirds of the field had them. By the late nineties, the dorsal wing was on most cars throughout CART and on all cars in the IRL. By the year 2000, they had all but disappeared completely.
I know a few engineers whose opinions I fully trust. They say that the dorsal wing really does very little, if anything, to add to the handling or the stability of a car. They do, however, give more signage space for sponsor decals. But I think they completely detract from the aesthetics of the cars. The only way you could have made the first generation IRL car any uglier was to add a shark fin to the back of it. Hopefully, the dorsal wing will be gone before the real car hits the track.
I’ve added a few pictures of the car in both configurations. I don’t really know where to give credit for the pictures. They were e-mailed to me Tuesday afternoon by a friend of mine, and I have no idea where he got them. If I am violating someone’s copyright, I apologize.
But those things aside, I liked it. At first glance, it is a much better looking car than the current nine year-old Dallara. Best of all, it pretty much looks like what an IndyCar is supposed to look like.