The Bad and the Ugly
Our universal opinion here amongst the Paddock staff is that this thing looks a bit too far fetched, to the point of being downright unattractive. Delta Wing’s press release calls this an “open wheel” car, to which they may be referring to the tire contact patch sized gap in the top of the chassis where you can see the tires from above. Yes Delta Wing, your butt looks fat.
Now that we finally see what the car would look like, we understand fully why Delta Wing has been leaking information about the efficiency of this design and about how it should respond in traffic. They were trying to soften the blow of such a radical change of what our preconceived notions tell us an IndyCar should look like.
Delta Wing has gone to great pains to describe their design as coming from a clean sheet of paper. If Indy was still a test bed for automotive design, this is what the cars would probably look like by now. In an era where we could design a car that could do 300+ MPH to go around IMS, a different kind of cap has to be instituted on the cars so as to keep participants and spectators from being killed by out of control cars attempting speeds that they safely cannot attain. In this era of green consciousness and intelligent, efficient design, this is the first race car that has been purpose designed with those purposes truly at the forefront.
Lets talk about the specs as released by Delta Wing:
- Weight with driver: 1,030 lbs
- Horsepower: 300 BHP
- Wheel base: 125 inches
- Front track: 24 inches
- Rear track: 70 inches
- Aerodynamic drag: Cd 0.24
- Engine and transmission are “non-stressed members” of the chassis structural design which allows teams to install a wide variety of lightweight powertrains
- The prototype will feature a 4 cylinder turbo charged engine that will produce approximately 300 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and weigh only 160lbs fully dressed
- Engine capacity, RPM and configuration freedoms are anticipated given only that the rate of fuel delivery to the engine will be controlled by a specially developed fuel flow rate control unit
- Vehicle weight distribution is necessarily more rearward than traditionally seen with 72.5% of the mass on the larger rear tires
- 80% of the aerodynamic downforce acts on the rear of the car
- Inline traction under acceleration through the rear tires is greatly enhanced by rearward weight and aerodynamic distributions
- Unique amongst today’s racing cars 60% of braking force is generated behind the center of gravity giving a dynamically stable response
- Locking propensity of the inside front wheel on corner entry is greatly reduced
- Transmission features 6 speed oval and 5 speed plus reverse road track configurations with sequential paddle shift actuation
- Differential features full torque vectoring active technology with driver control of gain for balance adjustment. “Active stagger” removes the expensive necessity for staggered rear tire diameters for ovals
- Advanced computer modeling of structures, impact energy management, aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics and tires has been used to develop the virtual DeltaWing car
- The car’s performance has been simulated on each configuration of race track encountered during the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship
- Modern advanced materials and CNC construction techniques applied to achieve gains in light weight structures and occupant safety
- Driver position, restraint layout and energy absorbency facility designed with the latest data on survival criteria
Did you catch that weight? 1,030 pounds WITH driver. This car weighs 900 pounds, with the engine taking up 160 pounds.
Short of the lack of aesthetic appeal, it is pretty easy to get excited about the above specifications. This is where all forms of racing need to be moving right now. We have long been at the point where all forms of racing are strictly for entertainment, since the road car industry learns very little of value to their show floor product from competition anymore. Racing is strictly an advertising venue.
Here are Ben Bowlby’s thoughts on his design:
“We are confident that this car will outperform the current generation IndyCar and do it in a more environmentally friendly waye. Auto racing has always been a powerful marketing tool for propelling new technology into the hearts and minds of consumers. This new car was specifically designed to be more closely aligned with the new reality of automobiles that are arriving on the road today. Consumers are choosing cars that provide impressive performance capabilities but with greater fuel efficiency. This prototype IndyCar features those same characteristics, making it much more relevant to the public and the auto industry. It is our goal to make participation in the series highly attractive to the automobile manufacturers as well as the fuel, technology, information and entertainment corporate sectors.”
In F1, where teams design their own cars, speed is its own form of beauty. If a car looks awful (looking at you 2010 McLaren) you reserve judgment until you see it perform on track. Performance has its own way of offsetting looks. But in this current spec environment in the IRL, the Delta Wing would most likely have no competitors unless there is a major change in the direction that the current management is leading the series.
Technically speaking, the Delta Wing concept is the “right” way to go for all of racing. Short of the aesthetics of the car, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The design concept is inline with what the IRL laid out as their design goals. Think of the leg up that this concept would give IndyCar racing over all other forms of racing. Look at how silly this car makes F1 look. If you can achieve these speeds, efficiencies and costs with a 900 pound chassis, a 7000 rpm 4-cylinder engine, and a total rethink on body design, then what business do F1 teams have in spending hundreds of millions of dollars on their cars?
Is it time to totally rethink what an IndyCar should look like? Should we depart from our preconceived notion of what an open wheel racer looks like? Should we continue the tradition of innovation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
I think Delta Wing has made a pretty convincing case for why they are the best route. I just wish the car looked a little sexier.