Something To Whet Our Appetites

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Last October, we learned that the Verizon IndyCar Series had decided to make radical changes to the looks of the DW12 when the new common bodywork went into effect in 2018. Radical may be considered too dramatic of a word for some, but when you’re talking about making a DW12 look sexy – to me, that’s radical.

I was never a fan of the air box over the driver’s head. Since the 1997 season when the IRL introduced their own equipment, the cars have always had the bulky unstreamlined looking air box. It was explained it was necessary for the naturally aspirated engines that the IRL started running in 1997.

Although I’m no gearhead, it made sense. Formula One had been running naturally aspirated engines exclusively since 1989 and they had the unsightly air box also. If you knew very little about racing, in that era the presence of an air box was always the dead giveaway between an F1 car and an Indy car of CART.

CART always had turbochargers along with a tighter, sleeker cowling that I thought was far better looking. When IndyCar announced they would be running turbochargers in the DW12 beginning with the 2012 season, I assumed that the dreaded air box carried by the three previous generations of Dallara would be dropped from their newest design. I was wrong.

That’s why I was so excited to learn of the return of the sleek cowlings of CART for the 2018 common body kit. Jay Frye and his team were actually concerned of the aesthetics of the car as well as the safety and raceability of it. Of course, there were the naysayers that said they didn’t care what the car looked like so long as there was a bubble canopy on it to protect the driver. Grrrr!!!

I know I can tend to be a tad bit superficial, but I think the looks of a car are important. An Indy car should look like an Indy car. While fans think the current DW12 is a safe car that races well, most agree that it is somewhat of an ugly duckling. I think it’s important for fans to like the looks of the car. Just as important is what casual fans or even non-fans think. The better a car looks, the more they’ll be intrigued by it. That may sound simplistic to some, but I fully believe it.

We have now gotten our first look at some preliminary sketches at what the updated DW12 will look like with the common bodywork of 2018. Keep in mind that these are merely concept sketches and the final version may not even resemble any of the possibilities shown here. Click on the photo to make it bigger.

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I had heard that the rear “bumper” pod was going to be completely eliminated because it had been determined that they had not been very effective (if at all) and they were causing a lot of expensive damage and costly pit stops after receiving contact. But some of these renderings show some type of rear pod. I was also not a fan the large bulbous aero devices that were in front of the rear-wheels from 2012-2014. With the introduction of the aero kits in 2015, those were made to look a lot better – especially on the Chevy aero kit. Some of these sketches feature various looks on those items.

The best part about these sketches, however, is they all show a roll hoop over the driver’s head instead of the air box that has been part of this series for twenty years. After this season, it looks definite that the air box will be a thing of the past. That’s a good thing.

I don’t put a ton of stock in concept sketches. As I recall, none of the Dallara sketches submitted to the ICONIC Committee had much of a resemblance to the DW12 that took to the track in 2012. One thing about concept sketches is that they are a good conversation piece to give us something fresh to talk about in the cold days of January. I have an idea they are much further along in the design process and probably are close to what the car will actually look like. With testing to take place later this summer, I’m almost positive that’s the case.

More drawings and actual photographs will be released in the coming weeks. These are meant to just whet our appetites. I’d like to think they may actually have a prototype on display at Indianapolis in May, just like they did for the DW12 in May of 2011. With the aero kits frozen for 2017, it’s going to be fun to speculate about the car and then finally see it later this season. Compare that to what was the main topic of speculation and conversation in the spring months last year leading into Indianapolis – whether or not there would be a race in Boston. The looks of the new body kit is much healthier fodder for conversation.

George Phillips

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8 Responses to “Something To Whet Our Appetites”

  1. I’m loving the concept of the roll hoop, and really hope that the rear tires will be completely naked. I just love seeing all of that rubber on the rear tires. I expect we’ll see some more info later this week during IndyCar Media Days.

  2. The DW-12 was/is butt ugly. There were some early versions of it that were better looking but never made the final cut. As shallow as it may sound, looks do matter. It makes the car faster, sound better, there is a psychological aspect to a sexy car.

  3. billytheskink Says:

    I like most of these concepts well enough, though I think sponsors might be concerned with the limited amount of uninterrupted space available for their logos on some of these. In this day and age, this is an important concern.

  4. Let’s hope that Jay Fyre does not become a free agent anytime soon.

    Also, while it is still timely, major props to IndyCar for sponsoring 10 cars at the Chili Bowl. Long overdue IMO.

    • billytheskink Says:

      Agreed on both points, especially on the Chili Bowl. I hope the Indycar sponsorship continues into the future and I hope to see some Indycar drivers involved in the future as well.

  5. I prefer the roll hoop to the air box, but all I astetically care about is the removal of those damn rear bumpers. I’ve hated those things from day one. I like my open wheel to be just that.

  6. Ed Emmitt Says:

    I guess we all agree DUMP the wheel covers.

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