I think most of us here at OpenPaddock share the same opinion regarding the Delta Wing concept that was proposed by a group of team owners lead by Chip Ganassi. Its a hideously ugly car, but the engineering philosophy behind it is brilliant. While I’m happy that it was not selected as the direction for the 2012 IndyCar chassis, not that I’m entirely please with the direction that was selected, I would be very interested in seeing this experiment in automotive engineering actually make it to the track so that the ideas and designs of Ben Bowlby and his team of clever engineers and aerodynamicists can put their concepts to the test. Rumor has it, that this may actually happen! Motorsports Magazine’s Gordon Kirby in his article The Delta Wing lives! revealed that the efforts to build and test a Delta Wing prototype are in high gear. By the end of the month, the Delta Wing Racing group hopes to have a fabrication team together and begin construction of a fully-functional race car that they can take to the track and test. Their hopes are to find a sanctioning body and run a separate Delta Wing series in 2013.
So what do you think? Would you buy a ticket? I have to admit that I’m very intrigued by the prospect of the Delta Wing actually circulating a real race course. There are a lot of very interesting engineering concepts that I’d like to see put to the test. Chief amongst them is the torque-vectoring steering assist that the concept models promised. The increasing interest in the Global Racing Engine (GRE) also bodes well for the Delta Wing platform and would allow multiple manufacturers and small engine shops to become involved if a new series does emerge. Cool engineering, multiple engines, what’s not to like? Oh, yeah, the car looks completely goofy. The more I think about it though, the less concerned I am about the looks. If it’s racy, I’ll watch it.
The big concern for a lot of us open-wheel fans is how this will affect the finally reunified sport of IndyCar racing. There’s been a lot of harsh words thrown about in the paddock and media lately by some of the owners regarding the decision of the ICONIC committee regarding the new 2012 chassis parameters. As Tony Cotman is just beginning the process of detailing the technical regulations, I still see these comments as political posturing. Some of the teams may be trying to leverage additional concessions and cost reductions from the league, just as they received in 2008. If the Delta Wing group is successful in their initial tests, and they find a sanctioning body for a new Delta Wing racing series, we very well could see an exodus of teams from IndyCar racing. I don’t think you’ll see the larger teams such as Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti leave, although they may participate in both, but teams such as Dale Coyne Racing, Conquest Racing, and even Panther may decide that they’ll see better results on track and better return on investment in a new series. I’m not saying that we’d see the Split 3.0, but we might see a slight splintering of the sport. Given the great forward momentum the league has right now, this wouldn’t be a death blow by any stretch, but it would certainly be a distraction and a dilution of the already difficult sponsorship market.
What do you think? Would you like to see it? Is it a threat to open-wheel racing in America, or a side-show curiosity?