IndyCar – Indy 500 speculation

2012 Dallara DW12 rear wing and endplate

The grapevine says that Townsend Bell will soon announce his intent to race in the Indy 500 for Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports.

I haven’t heard a word about Paul Tracy. Maybe he’s having trouble finding funding to rent a ride after failing to qualify a GEICO car at Indy in 2010. His prior sponsors have migrated to other teams; Wix filters sponsors Lotus DRR (Oriol Servia), and Motegi Racing (wheels for street cars) insignia are seen on Dragon Racing’s cars and Will Power’s helmet. You may remember that Tracy was incensed 13 months ago when KV Racing Technology plugged Tony Kanaan into the GEICO-funded car that Tracy had expected to race.


If I were near Speedway, Indiana on Wednesday, I might have watched some IndyCar testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as several racers tried their speedway wings sets and new rear tire guards.

I’ve seen the photos provided by LAT Photo USA, and the rear wheel guards do not improve the appearance of the Dallara DW12. And they seem to me (not an aerodynamicist) to slow the cars by scooping air and inducing drag. And when have we seen rear wings without end-plates? Typically large-square-area wings which one depends on for ample downforce (or lift for airliners) have end-plates to maintain separation of high-pressure and low-pressure air on both sides of the wings. Normally one doesn’t want vortex-causing, and drag-inducing, spillage of air from the high-pressure side to the low-pressure side.

I have wondered why military fighter airplanes and bombers don’t have winglets like those seen on airliners. But for decades, Indy cars have had rear wing end-plates. Now they don’t. Does Dallara not care about air spillage because downforce at the rear is not as important as I’d think? I had thought that racers run shallow (even negative) angles of attack in rear wings for Indy 500 qualifying but expect some downforce during the race to keep cars’ rear ends stable. Does Dallara, or Will Phillips, not mind inducing drag via wingtip vortices to prevent the DW12 from being too fast?

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6 Thoughts to “IndyCar – Indy 500 speculation

  1. RR

    Military fighters and bombers don’t have winglets because drag and fuel efficiency don’t matter to them. Their sole purpose is to destroy the enemy and get back home. That’s why they have KC-10s, for refueling.

    I don’t know this for a fact, but I think the absence of winglets at Indy is to reduce rear downforce to allow better rotation around the vertical axis in turns. In other words, to reduce understeer.

  2. Savage Henry

    I’m starting to think that Dallara is sandbagging on their aero kit design. I think that they are intentionally being very conservative so as not to steal the thunder of the “real” aero kits for 2013. With everything being so new, probably nobody wants to take too many chances.

    I think that somebody is going to show up with a wingless Indy package next year.

    1. I think you are correct. IMO it seems to me that the DW12 platform is designed to have yearly incremental improvements towards breaking the IMS speed record in it’s 3rd or 4 year of use.
      – Year 1 – carbon fibre brakes and turbos improve the road racing that is on the schedule
      – Year 2 – More efficient aero kits are introduced to increase speed across the board, notably at IMS
      – Year 3 – Is the year for new engine leases and Pricing (the original 2 year commitments are over with). The price of the engines go up, but with that comes two more rebuilds during the year allowing the wick to be turned up on an event by event basis – more HP more speed.
      – Year 4 – Allow customization to certain parts of the suspension
      – Year 5 – New Safety cell (car) …with the expected better financial health of the series and teams overall, allowing other a much wider range of customization across the platform

  3. Kevin Neely

    I honestly believe Paul tracy has seen his last ride in an IndyCar, You can’t go through your entire career tearing up equipment and burning bridges expecting no kind of backlash. I recall last season when Jay Penske announced PT would drive for Dragon racing. Roger Penske said he was amused that two of his biggest headaches were working together. tracy has shown no pace in recent years, so I have to believe an owner would be more inclined to place someone like Bruno Junquiera, Bertrand Baguette, or even a Pippa Mann in the car instead.

    1. Brian McKay (@BrianMcKayUSA)

      Bruno can certainly pedal a car around I.M.S.! Maybe he can get Brazilian $pon$or$hip.

      1. Kevin Neely

        If anyone deserves a ride, it’s Bruno. Have any other drivers in history given up already qualified cars to other drivers? It’s already happened to him twice. He’s kinda like an unlikely Tomas Sheckter at Indy though. If he doesn’t finish 5th, he finishes usually in the 30’s.

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