This afternoon, the Indy Racing League announced their plans for the 2012 season of the IZOD IndyCar Series. There’s been a lot of buzz about what the new chassis spec would be for a number of years now. The speculations have run from a completely wide-open, run-whatcha-brung, regulation to a completely spec, single-manufacturer car. For the past year, most of the money was on the spec type of formula, but in recent weeks, comments by the league officials and especially by Randy Bernard have led many to think that perhaps the new regulations would involve a couple of manufacturers and allow the teams some latitude in the design of the ancillary bits of the car while maintaining a spec core chassis. Here are the details of the announcement.
2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Chassis Strategy
The new chassis regulations mandate the use of a Dallara fabricated safety cell and rolling chassis with aerodynamic elements and sidepods being open for development through 2015. Although this is the flavor of what we’d excepted, its definitely not the manufacturer that we’d expected. I shouldn’t really be surprised that Dallara got the bid, but the concept was stolen directly from Lola and its a bit disheartening to see that they were not acknowledged for their innovations. The league openly invited various race car and aerospace engineering firms to supply body kits for the core chassis provided that the kits are open to all competitors at a fixed cost and pass various safety tests.
On the positive side of things, the new car will cost significantly less than the current car at $349k for the rolling chassis alone and a complete car will run in the neighborhood of $385k with the complete car weighing in at about 1380 lbs, which is a slight reduction from the current chassis. In addition, Dallara has offered a $150k discount to the first 28 orders. If you ask me, offering to the first 33 a $100k discount would have been more marketable. All teams will be allowed to use two distinct aerodynamic kits for the racing season. One wonders how strict this regulation will be. Right now, there are three different basic packages and those three are mixed and matched throughout the season to match the needs of the specific venue.
Although each core chassis will be manufactured by Dallara, the branding used when refering to individual chassis will be based on the manufacturer of the body kit. That could help some in regards to attracting manufacturers. For example, if Swift wanted to design a body kit, the resulting car would be refered to as a “Swift IndyCar”. The Dallara name would not be used unless Dallara actually provided the aero pieces.
So is there any motivation for Swift or Lola to participate? I can’t really see any. They have bigger projects to tackle than to be a parts supplier. Lets face it, most of the grid will have stock Dallara body kits and only teams with their own autoclaves and engineering teams will be sporting unique body kits, and they will be the ones to profit from both the manufacturing and the performance benefit. Yes, they will need to make the parts available to all teams, but other teams will always be at least one if not two iterations behind the two superteams. You might see some small shops attempting to offer some body kits, however I don’t see any aerospace engineering firm putting serious effort behind developing a kit for a car that is not theirs. It seems that we’re destined for more-of-the-same type of treatment from Dallara for the forseeable future. It saddens be since there was such a buzz and excitement that we might be seeing a new age of innovation for the IZOD IndyCar Series. As it turns out, the league merely paid lipservice to the idea and allowed Dallara to swipe the great ideas of Lola and DeltaWing. One wonders if there might not be some IP claims leveraged by Lola. At the very least there has to be some very hard feelings held by the two groups.
So what do you think of the future strategies? Are they what you expected? Excited? Disappointed? Fire away in the comment section below or on the forum!
5 Thoughts to “IndyCar – 2012 Chassis Revealed!”
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I was hoping that there would be a spec safety cell with different components on the car open for development. That is exactly what happened, so I am happy with the result. I may have preferred a different provider (Swift or Lola) but Swift was unwilling to produce in Indiana which removed them from the running and Dallara, Swift and Lola all made a lot of noise about only being able to provide at the lower cost if they were sole provider which removed multiple chassis providers from the running. BAT and Delta Wing were just simply not going to happen. BAT is a startup that had no manufacturing capabilities and Delta Wing’s looks were questionable, thought their concept was good and sound.
Before we accuse Dallara of swiping IP from Delta Wing and Lola, we do have to seriously consider that Dallara might have been the only manufacturer that was willing to work with the IRL in this way (allowing aero kits to be developed by others and naming rights along with it). Further, Dallara’s bid to the league was only 3 pictures and no real details. Their bid to the IRL may have been far more exhaustive with this spec safety cell idea being part of the proposal, or the IRL may have talked them into this idea after they took some of the best ideas from each of the proposals and tried to integrate them into their future direction.
The Indiana angle cannot be discounted either. The first 28 Indiana based teams get the $150,000 discount. So Penske, Newman Haas and Foyt are out of luck unless they move to the Hoosier state. I have a suspicion that money is coming partially from the Hoosier taxpayers to further motorsports development in the state. Dallara may have been the only manufacturer to work extensively with Indiana and Speedway to insure that they would have a facility across the street from IMS.
[…] idea for one chassis and two body kits was the centerpiece of Lola’s concept. OpenPaddock.net‘s Doug Patterson wonders if Lola will file intellectual property claims against […]
Lola and Swift may very well take their marbles and head on home. Another scenario i can possibly forsee is that after one season with two different “body kits”, one kit will be superior to the other, causing evry one to ditch the one that doesn’t work and the’ll all end up using the same stuff, putting us all back to square one, spec. My best bet is that Penske pulls his autoclave out of mothballs and destroys the field with it. ( remember, RP kept his autoclave when he stopped building his own cars in the U.K.. That sucker is sitting on a marble floor in Mooresville N.C. getting it’s Penske Polish applied as we speak)…. or Penske will be a supplier of parts, making sure his are just a little bit better than those that are sold to joe Q public.
I’m just happy it isn’t Delta Wing and that a couple jobs have been created in Omerica. I nominate IndyCar for the frickin nobel prize for that. God Bless the Hoosiers
It really is subject to who all jumps into the game. At this moment it looks like Lotus is interested and the ICONIC crew are set for a trip to Europe in hopes of bringing in some other companies. I wonder if the committee had any previous knowledge of people interested. It just seems so blind and random that the success of this chassis is reliant upon others to get in.
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