Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon and the 2012 Dallara IndyCar test team – staffed primarily by the Bryan Herta Autosport crew with whom he won Indy back in May – took their most ceremonial step in the development of the new car on Tuesday, when the V6-turbo Honda-powered car tested for the first time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wheldon, who also has driven the car at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Iowa Speedway one-mile oval, said the development program remains an exciting work in progress – as well as a great opportunity for himself as a driver.
“I hadn't driven an IndyCar with a turbo on it before, so that to me was exciting,” Wheldon said. “I think the multiple engine manufacturers are exciting. I think a different car in general will be exciting. I think it looks pretty radical.
"It seems to me that being a part of the Indy 500 this year with the double-file restarts and some of the races I've done commentating for Versus, the IndyCar Series seems to have a lot of momentum going for it and I think this is going to add to it. This is going to add intrigue and it will be interesting to see which teams get their finger on the pulse first. I think everybody is expecting Penske and Ganassi, but that is not always the case. It's a really rewarding program on top of my Indy 500 win.”
Wheldon is especially pleased with some of the safety advances incorporated into the new car. Dallara has designed the car around drivers of all sizes so it will be just as comfortable for 6ft-3in. Justin Wilson as it will be for diminutive E.J. Viso.
“They had a lot of time to figure out what they needed to make better, whether it be driver fit and comfort but most importantly for safety,” Wheldon said. “They have made huge advances in those areas. I think everybody knows Dallara is an extremely reputable company. They are a very solid group to work with.”