At a press conference in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Toby Theatre attended by IndyCar owners and drivers, the IZOD IndyCar Series announced its long-awaited chassis plans for 2012 and beyond.
“Today is the result of listening to all you, who shared your passion and input,” said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard prior to making the official announcement.
The new design will feature a rolling chassis with an enhanced safety cell produced by longtime series partner Dallara, that will be covered in changeable bodywork created by various manufacturers. Known as the IndyCar Safety Cell, it will be manufactured at a new facility in Speedway, Ind., and will serve as the base of the new car. Various manufacturers can produce the aero kit to dress the car with different bodywork, including front and rear wings, side pods, engine covers and more.
“Once again, the ICONIC Advisory Committee has done a tremendous job to tirelessly seek opinions from manufacturers, teams, drivers and fans to devise this exciting new car strategy that best represents all the attributes that make this sport so unique and compelling,” said Randy Bernard, chief executive officer of the IZOD IndyCar Series. “This car puts everything all of our stakeholders want on the racetrack: safety, competition on and off the track, diversity, efficiency and more.
“The new car also is a cost-effective package that positions the series for tremendous growth and enhances the series' relevancy to future automotive technology, while respecting the tradition of innovation in open-wheel racing.”
Significant features of the new IZOD IndyCar Series car include:
• The rolling chassis manufactured by Dallara to IndyCar specifications will cost $349,000, with a complete car costing $385,000. This is a 45 percent price decrease from the current IZOD IndyCar Series formula. The IndyCar Safety Cell is designed for use on all types of tracks on which the IZOD IndyCar Series competes, eliminating the need for separate chassis.
• Each team can race two different aero kits from any manufacturer during the season, with a maximum price of $70,000 for each kit. The IZOD IndyCar Series must approve all aero kit parts before production. All approved aero kit parts must be made available to all teams and undergo safety testing approved by the IZOD IndyCar Series.
• The targeted minimum weight for the new car is 1,380lbs, nearly 200lbs lighter than the current formula. This will make the car more efficient, another trend that will define the future of the automotive industry. The actual minimum weight of the car will be determined once variables with suppliers, including engine weight, are determined.
• The IndyCar Safety Cell will feature improved visibility, head, leg and back protection and advanced padding and ergonomics. Another unique safety concept is the wheel interlock prevention system, which will allow cars to run side by side while limiting the chance for wheels locking and the subsequent risk for cars getting airborne.
“Our goal was to maintain the IZOD IndyCar Series as the fastest and most versatile racing in the world,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the IZOD IndyCar Series. “This strategy achieves the different looks that fans wanted while maintaining the close, intense racing that occurs at every IZOD IndyCar Series event, whether on a superspeedway, short oval, road course or street circuit. A new car also levels the playing field, giving more teams a chance to succeed and generating more excitement for our fans.
“The significant reduction in the price of the new car is very important, as it helps to maintain economic stability for our teams as we transition to a new car. It also creates a more attractive avenue for new teams to enter the series.”
The new car will provide the proven safety record and world-class build quality of Dallara while revolutionizing the sport by creating opportunities for multiple manufacturers – even those not currently involved in racecar engineering and design – to produce parts of the car.
“This unique and groundbreaking concept embraces innovation and competition, very much in keeping with IndyCar traditions, while at the same time achieving the impossible, reducing the cost of entry and competition,” said ICONIC Committee member Gil de Ferran, co-owner of De Ferran Dragon Racing and 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner. “By the use of standard parts and supply rules the IZOD IndyCar Series ensures the cost are under control and teams have access to the latest and greatest. By encouraging multiple manufacturers to supply bodywork parts and, essentially, brand the cars, the IZOD IndyCar Series brings in the innovation and competition many of us were looking for.”
Said ICONIC Advisory Committee member Tony Purnell, founder of Pi Research, former technical representative to the FIA and former head of Ford's Premiere Performance Division: “We are delivering the best of both worlds to our fans and teams by creating new looks in a cost-effective manner. The innovation bred by this new formula is not limited to traditional racing manufacturers. It's our goal to reach out and challenge the automotive and aerospace industries.
“Come on Ford, GM, Lotus, Ferrari. Come on Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Electric. Come on you engineers working in your garage or in small shops," Purnell added. "We've done our best to provide a framework for all of you to showcase your technical prowess without a need for a major raid on your piggy banks. We want you guys involved, all of you.”
As part of the new chassis strategy, the IZOD IndyCar Series said it will increase its technical staff and facilities significantly, positioning the series as a leading-edge technical organization in worldwide motorsports.
Follow RACER.com throughout the day for more details on the IndyCar chassis plan.