IndyCar – The Delta Wing Project

Yesterday, some photos were leaked of a version of the Delta Wing chassis designed by Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ben Bowlby. Mr. Bowlby is certainly not new to chassis design having spent a very successful stint with Lola creating very fast chassis with a wide setup window. The photos we saw yesterday posted ever so briefly at, were in a word hideous! The most common statement amongst the IndyCar fan community was, “How the heck is that thing supposed to turn?” This is in reference to the front wheels which appear so encapsulated that any yaw motion appears to be severely restricted. My primary concern was one of stability. There’s a reason why 3-wheeled ATVs are no longer on the market!

Now we have the legit pics (thanks to Panther Racing’s TwitPic) from the official release by the Delta Wing group from the Chicago Auto Show, and I must say, the real deal looks to be identical to the leaked renders from last night. Here’s my grades for the chassis using the same criteria I used for the Dallara and Swift proposals.

Raceability: C
Depending upon the nature of the car’s wake, this could be a car that permits close nose-to-tail racing. However, I have definite concerns regarding the side-by-side raceability. With the previous concepts, I had been concerned with the risk of tread-to-tread contact between competitors’ wheels. With the Delta Wing design, that’s certainly not a concern. The wheels are completely enclosed. I do have concerns with the asymmetric nose-to-tail configuration for the car. If two cars were to bump into one another side-by-side, their noses would likely pitch inward placing both drivers into the wall before they knew what happened. I understand that Bowlby has a history of designing very fast, very stable race cars, but I’m unconvinced of the stability of this design.

Modern Look: D
The design provides abundant room for sponsorship decals, and the rear vertical stabilizer provides ample room for the identifying car number. I’ll not knock this design for that. It achieves the goal of being sponsor-friendly and easily identifiable on track with flying colours. However, this is anything but modern looking. I was extremely skeptical of Curt Cavin’s analogy to the Spirit of America, but upon reflection, he was absolutely right. This design is manifestly NOT modern, but half a century old! Not only does it look like a land-speed record car from the 60’s, it also does not look like an open-wheel racer. The wheels are almost fully encapsulated by the body work. There is a small arc at the top that is left open, and perhaps that’s the claim that it still qualifies as an open-wheel formula car. The car gets a passing grade, but only just and only because the league includes in this “Modern Look” criteria a demand for greater sponsorship visibility. Were it solely on the merits of a modern-looking design, it would fail in my book.

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9 Thoughts to “IndyCar – The Delta Wing Project

  1. Easily the dumbest thing I have ever seen….If this thing wins, I am done. My vote is for the Swift designs and I think it would be in the best interest of IndyCar to forget about this thing and look at the serious challengers. What a joke.

  2. This is cr@p. I can’t believe we waited for this. There is nothing here that ties it to decades of Indy-style American racing tradition. And the only thing worse than a car that only turns left is a car that doesn’t turn at all.

    Swift has it right. I like the #23 proposal – it is easily recognizable as a progression of the Indy tradition, and their Formula Nippon cars are cool too.

  3. agreed Chris…that pretty much captures what we here at the paddock have been saying to each other via text the last 20 minutes or so. WHAT A JOKE!

  4. Robert

    Um…..Mickey Thompson….Smokey Yunick…the STP Turbines…..I agree it looks like it couldn’t turn….however, the prospect of having multiple chassis, different displacement engines etc running simultaneously at the Speedway far out weighs any criticisms I could make. At one time, for the decade(s) after the Offenhouser roadster and before the current spec car travesty, Indianapolis was all about speed and innovation.

  5. will agree to the point on innovation Robert, but it is one and done with these prototypes. Unless Indy decides to out of nowhere let multiple run, we could be stuck with this and only this. I don’t like the spec car problem like many, but if it has to be spec, it cannot be this thing. I will now dub this car the Loch Ness Monster. The comparisons are amazing!

  6. evan

    This thing is hideous. I just can’t see it at Indy at all! I agree that the 500 has been about innovation in the past, but this just seems to go too far. and like someone else has mentioned, watching 33 of these things running around indy just sends a chill down my spine. some of the other concepts i’ve seen looked pretty cool, but this looks like the 3 wheel atv someone mentioned above.

  7. I am having trouble deadpanning this car outright. I don’t like the way it looks at all. The rear end looks ok to me, but the phalic front end with the tiny tires looks a bit ridiculous.

    What I can’t argue with is the numbers they are throwing out. 300 HP, 235 MPH laps, 12 mpg. If we look at this from purely the innovation standpoint, this car blows anything else out of the water in terms of efficiency. Ben Bowlby told Robin Miller that if they used the current IndyCar engine in this thing, they could get above 270 mph.

  8. Duane R

    New. Different. Innovative. Unmistakable. Economical. I love it! I can totally see how some could find it butt ugly. But damn! That is one wild machine! It’s kind of like the last 40 years of winged race car design was flushed down the toilet & replace with the modern re-designed equivalent of a 60’s style land / speed record car. For anyone who loves little winglets & areo-bits this car is a nightmare! I say go for it… at 1/5 the current operating costs the teams can’t really complain. As far as the looks go, after a couple of seasons of wickedly close racing no-one will even remember that ‘looks’ were once an issue!

  9. If selected, lets hope you are right Duane!

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