Ahead of an expected public debut of Ben Bowlby's "DeltaWing" concept for a new Indy car chassis at the Chicago Auto Show later this month, the Indy Racing League announced today its objectives for the next IZOD IndyCar Series chassis, which is scheduled to debut at the start of the 2012 season. The statement read as follows:
"Attributes desired by the Indy Racing League in developing its next iconic chassis look include:
- Safe: The new chassis must adhere to the league's safety standards while exploring new technology to improve safety in all aspects of the car.
- Raceable: The new chassis must continue to produce the exciting racing that has become signature of the IZOD IndyCar Series while not affecting other cars on track (i.e. less sensitive to the turbulence).
- Cost-effective: The league continues to work to reduce the cost of participation for teams in the IZOD IndyCar Series, which remains an important priority in this economic climate. The new chassis must have a price point that adheres to that goal.
- American-made: The new chassis must be built in the U.S., preferably at an Indiana-based facility.
- Less mass/More efficient: A lighter chassis with less mass that produces the same aerodynamic effect in an efficient way.
- Relevant technology: The league would like the new chassis to be relevant to the future of the consumer auto industry; innovative technology that is born on the racetrack and can translate to consumer cars.
- Modern Look: More space for sponsor logos, cars easily identifiable.
- Green: The Indy Racing League prides itself on its role in the greening of racing and wants to maintain its position as a leader in environmentally-friendly initiatives with this chassis."
The IRL's statement added that the development of the cars continues themes originally explored in its cooperative venture with Design Center engineering students back in 2008.
"Two years ago, the league engaged both the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena (Calif.) and College for Creative Studies in Detroit in conceptual exercises about the next generation of car," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series. "For the last year we have engaged in ongoing conversations with four chassis makers on two different design tracks. Now we are receiving concepts and will make a decision soon."
The league acknowledged that it is in discussions with Dallara, DeltaWing, Lola and Swift about designing, manufacturing and supplying the new chassis, reiterating that "two parallel paths – one radical and one more evolutionary in design," remain under consideration.
"Our chassis is the most complex challenge in world motorsports because of the variety of race courses where we compete," Barnhart said. "It must be designed to run at 235mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and protect drivers and spectators in high-speed crashes. It must be able to perform on superspeedways, speedways and short ovals well as natural terrain road courses and temporary circuits."
Barnhart said the first and foremost requirement for the new chassis is safety, based on three decades of experience with the current chassis.
"Our drivers take the greatest risks in the world of sports driving Indy cars and it is paramount we have the best safety features designed into this next generation of cars," he said. "It is also important that we continue to develop more relevance between the new generation of Indy cars and the cars that world manufacturers will be producing in the future. Finally, we have stipulated that the new chassis must be made in the United States, preferably Indiana, to take advantage of more competitive pricing and the existing American supplier network for parts and protect our team from issues with currency fluctuations."
The current chassis utilized by teams is produced by Dallara and was last updated in 2003.