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 16thandGeorgetown.com, 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.
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.