The IZOD IndyCar Series announced Wednesday that it will incorporate reverse gears into its cars for all road course and street circuit events for the 2010 season.
A reverse gear supplied by promotional partner Xtrac will be incorporated in cars for the nine road and street course races this season, which is set to begin March 14 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It is hoped that the addition will make it easier for cars to rejoin the field after a spin without help from corner workers – and the resulting full-course yellows.
"I think it's a great idea," said Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti, on hand at a chilly Homestead-Miami Speedway this week for two days of Firestone tire testing. "Hopefully, it will cut down on full-course yellows and it will take some pressure off the safety team, too."
Drivers will retain six forward gears. The kit won't be applied for the eight oval events.
"We've been making updates every year – changing gear size, adding the paddle shift system – and it just happened to be the right time to put the gear in the car," said Kevin Blanch, the IZOD IndyCar Series technical director. "It doesn't make any of the parts obsolete; you just add the new kit. It's on the drop gear side, so when the crew is making gear changes it doesn't interfere. It just stays in the car the whole time.
"We thought about making it optional, but it needs to be a mandatory item because a lot of times you'll get a couple of cars in a runoff. If the second car in didn't have reverse and couldn't back up, that's not very fair to the other guy who spent the money to put the reverse in the car. That driver will be able to help himself."
A reverse gear has been part of Indy car racing in the past, but not under Indy Racing League sanction. The kit is inexpensive and easy to install.
"A lot of teams have road course gearboxes and oval gearboxes just because of the amount of time it takes to switch them back and forth," Blanch added. "So now, they'll just be able to build their road course 'box and reverse will be in it and build their oval 'box and leave it and they'll be ready to go.
"It's a wide gear and works through the paddle system, so there's no extra flipping levers or pulling triggers to get it into reverse. You don't have to baby it. It's just like a forward gear. Maybe it can help save some guys' laps."