Andersen Promotions owner Dan Andersen recently revealed that three chassis manufacturers were in the running to earn the 2015 Indy Lights chassis contract, and RACER has learned Dallara will be announced as the series' next supplier.
Although the choice of Dallara might not come as a surprise to some, the details involved with the rolling chassis could stoke new interest among owners and drivers working within the confines of a slow economy.
The final decision reportedly fell in Dallara's favor based on offering the lowest sale price of those who submitted bids and, as a key concession, the company's willingness to create three-year finance plan to lessen the upfront costs of ownership. With payments spread across three seasons, the chances of expanding Indy Lights' diminished car counts and small ownership group could be greatly improved.
A discount from Dallara for entrants who compete in 2014 – the final season for the current Dallara-built 2002 Infiniti Pro Series car – will be offered, and an even greater discount will be extended to those who commit to the new car within the first few months of 2014.
Assuring low spare parts prices is also said to have been a core demand from Andersen Promotions, and a few different plans to keep those spec components at a reasonable rate should be revealed in the announcement. Some components from the 2002 IPS car are also expected to carry over with Dallara's brand-new design. The 2015 Dallara chassis, which has yet to be named, is expected to begin testing next August.
Those who've seen renderings of the car describe the chassis as having few visual similarities to the Dallara DW12. It's said to have a more modern, European open-wheel style to distinguish its identity from Dallara's Indy car.
The next step for Andersen is to nominate an engine supplier for the 2015 car. A wide range of candidates, including AER, Chevy, Honda, Mazda, and others have negotiated with his company, and news of which small-displacement turbo engine will be used could follow directly behind the chassis announcement.
With the help of 2015 Indy Light car project manager Tony Cotman, Italy's Dallara, France's Mygale and Multimatic's Canadian-American consortium were named as the primary manufacturers for Andersen to consider after he took control of the series earlier this year. A fourth manufacturer, California's Swift, is also known to have submitted a bid, but its preference to use a modified version of a current chassis, rather than create a brand-new car to Andersen's specification, eliminated the Hiro Matsushita-owned company from contention.
Progress for the flagging Indy Lights series has come at a rapid pace since the IndyCar Series handed over control to Andersen. Prior to turning over the reins, the IndyCar Series looked after the top-tier open-wheel feeder series, yet with limited investment and an ancient chassis driving interest downwards, IndyCar faced the possibility of shutting down Indy Lights or finding a new, independent promoter to take on the financial burden and future planning involved to keep the series afloat. The selection of Dallara for the 2015 car came without IndyCar's involvement.
In addition to naming Cooper Tire as the new sole supplier for the series starting in 2014 – replacing the outgoing Firestone Tire brand, Andersen immediately approved the search for a new chassis and engine solution for 2015, with performance-based updates scheduled for the current chassis to be implemented next season.
Pennsylvania's Sage Karam became the final champion of the Firestone-sponsored Indy Lights series at the season finale in Fontana, and is expected to graduate to the IndyCar Series next year.