Dallara’s Concept Tease
The Dallara is supposed to be the more evolutionary design. If this is the conservative approach to the next generation IndyCar, I’m now more curious than ever to see the Delta Wing car that is scheduled to be unveiled next Wednesday. It must really be out there.
Given these three concepts, I have to say I like concept one the best. It is a very sleek looking car and is much better looking than the current Dallara. My only complaint about it is the re-emergence of the dorsal fin over the rear cowling.
The dorsal fin was first seen in 1994, when Roger Penske introduced them on his three Marlboro cars for the second race of the season at Phoenix. After Emerson Fittipaldi and Al Unser, Jr. gave The Captain a respective one-two finish; two races later at Indianapolis – probably half the field was sporting dorsal fins of varying degrees. Some were small and discreet, such as Robby Gordon’s Valvoline car; while others like Bobby Rahal’s Miller Genuine Draft car looked like a sail. That car did not qualify however, as he abandoned his Lola-Honda for a Penske Chevy, lest he fail to qualify for the second year in a row.
The dorsal fins showed up on the IRL cars in 1998. They looked ridiculous behind the air box. They served as a place to place the car numbers. They mercifully disappeared when the next generation Dallara and G-Force chassis were introduced in 2000. It was always debated if the dorsal fin served any real function beyond being additional real estate for sponsor decals. I think if they were truly effective they would be on every car today. Of course, if you really want to get technical – you can trace the dorsal fin much further back than 1994. George Salih’s Belond Exhaust Special, which won the 1957 and 1958 Indianapolis 500’s had a dorsal fin directly behind the driver. It looked much more sleek on that car than the rear-engine cars of the nineties.
Concept 2 is a little more compelling. It’s still better looking than the current Dallara, but it has just enough funky elements to make it interesting. To me, something about it reminds me of the Champ Car DP-01 – although Champ Car loyalists will probably strongly disagree. I don’t give it much hope in its current configuration, however. There isn’t much room or visibility on the sidepods for the all-important sponsor’s name.
The third design is where we cross into the bizarro-world. It is a conglomerate of several cars over the years. It has the front- end of AJ Foyt’s 1977 Coyote, the back-end of Little Al’s 1983 Eagle and the side-pod treatment of a 1998 F1 Ferrari; with the only complimentary feature of those three being the Ferrari. For an old goat like myself, that one is just a little over the top. On last night’s show, Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee both said that they thought a casual fan would look at that and say it was an IndyCar. I disagree. At first glance, it resembles an ALMS car more than anything to me – but that is just my opinion. Opinions of these three cars have been flying with full-force among the blogs since these pictures first hit.
Of course, this is just a tease for the much more anticipated unveiling of the Delta Wing next week. Dallara was wise to release these pictures beforehand. Had they waited until after we had seen what many are calling “radical”, it would have been rather anti-climactic to see something that will probably look very tame compared to the Delta Wing.
So what are my thoughts? I like concepts one & two; concept three – not so much. Removing the dorsal fin from the first one would make for a very graceful and slick looking IndyCar. I am not opposed to the second one either. Quite honestly, I would like to see some sort of hybrid come from morphing those two designs together. The sidepod inlets are about the only feature from the third design that I would like to see incorporated into their final design.
So here we have three concepts from Dallara. It’s my understanding that we’ll only see one Delta Wing concept in Chicago, but maybe I’m wrong. I know that this has certainly piqued my interest in the Delta Wing even more. It is now clear that we will see something very different looking on the track in 2012. This is a good thing. Contrary to popular belief, I am not opposed to change. I think cars should evolve and look different over time. Remember…I was at Indy in the sixties. I’m not sure the cars ever changed as much from the beginning of a decade to the end of one, as they did in the sixties.
As I’ve said before, my only problem is the mandating to all teams that they will be forced to run whatever chassis is ultimately chosen. Curt Cavin said last night that he sees no reason to run more than one exclusive chassis. I like and admire Curt very much, but again I must disagree. Variety and innovation is what made the Indy 500 and open-wheel racing great. Most people I talk to and hear from say that spec racing bores them to death. Other than the engines, NASCAR is a spec series now and their ratings are tumbling. If they are really looking to spice up the series, have more than one chassis. If they look so much different, that will be apparent even to the coveted new fans.
But as for today, I’ll study these concept drawings a little more closely and eagerly await the unveiling of the Delta Wing on Wednesday. Then all of the speculation over what it looks like can stop. Then the real debate over which one to choose will start and probably carry right up to the Indy 500. It should be a lot of fun.