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!