IndyCar announced Thursday that Indianapolis 500 winners Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta Autosport have been selected as the test organization for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series prototype chassis.
"Dan, Bryan and (co-owner) Steve Newey have extensive experience in testing and development programs, so we know our prototypes will be in the best hands as we finalize the chassis aspect of the program," said Tony Cotman, project manager for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car. "This verification testing furthers our commitment to ensure that our new car meets all the performance criteria promised to our drivers, teams and fans."
The comprehensive chassis testing period on behalf of the series will take place in August and September of this year. IZOD IndyCar Series teams are slated to receive their first new chassis by Dec. 15.
"Our goal is to confirm reliability and performance targets as set forth by the series to ensure that all teams will receive a proven, track-ready car in December," said Herta. "We plan to put the chassis through its paces with a rigorous program to prepare for the various types of tracks the series visits and a variety of conditions. I've always had an interest in the technical side of the sport and the process of constantly improving the car, so I'm looking forward to this opportunity to have our team test the new chassis."
Bryan Herta Autosport was founded in 2009 by Herta and noted engineer Steve Newey. Already a winner in Firestone Indy Lights competition, the team fields an entry full time in the developmental series and made its IZOD IndyCar Series debut in 2010 at the Indianapolis 500. The team won the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" this May with Wheldon.
"Obviously, I am very excited to continue with everyone who formed the Indianapolis 500-winning team at Bryan Herta Autosport," said Wheldon. "This is something that we are going to take very seriously and approach in a very professional manner. It is very important for the growth of the series that the testing is done in a way that will create an even better product at the start of 2012.
"For me to not be racing is obviously something that I am disappointed about, but being able to do the testing program will put me in a fantastic position for the future and I am thankful to the IndyCar Series, Honda and Firestone for the opportunity."
Both Wheldon and Herta have extensive time behind the wheel as IndyCar test drivers for Honda in the past. Herta also was active in testing and development for Acura's sports car projects. Newey was involved setting up the Firestone Test Team with Patrick Racing for the tire manufacturer's return to IndyCar racing in 1994.