Like most American kids that grew up in the 80's I watched the Indy 500 every year and became interested in motorsports thanks to that race, but I didn't really get hooked until I started watching Formula 1 racing in the late 90's. My favorite era were those years with the great Mika Hakkinen/Michael Schumacher battles. (I was a Mika Hakkinen fan) So my fondness for Formula 1 waned once Mika retired and Schumacher started winning everything, even at the expense of his teammate Rubens Barrichello. My interest in F1 has only been lukewarm since.

Then I turned to Champ Car racing here in the US for my motorsports fix. However that was quickly extinguished once Champ Car and Indy Car merged and we were stuck with Tony George and his many foibles. (It was entertaining to watch the Hulman/George drama I'll admit.) My interest has been less than lukewarm with Indy Car lately, even without Tony George at the helm.

Over time however, the excitement I once had for motorsports has slowly gone. Maybe it has to do with my age, I don't know. But I think I will pour my efforts into my Trooper and my interests in the outdoors to add excitement to my life.

Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope you enjoy it. I will still post racing news when I find something interesting or noteworthy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Indy Racing League explores options on new chassis

(by Nate Ryan 2-4-10)

Indy Racing League president Brian Barnhart says the IndyCar series is considering designs by manufacturers Dallara, Lola, Swift and DeltaWing for a new chassis scheduled for a 2012 rollout.
Barnhart says the chassis are on parallel paths: An evolutionary approach by traditional IndyCar players Dallara, Lola and Swift, and the revolutionary option offered by DeltaWing, which will unveil its blueprint Feb. 10 at the Chicago Auto Show.

"At this point they're all concepts," Barnhart said Wednesday. "There's more questions around the radical car, but until they become realities, we can't be in position to pick one until they're off the computer screen and on the track.

"The proposals are exciting and unique, and yet they're all very similar from the business side. It's really coming down to making a decision on which is the best direction for the future of IndyCar."

Barnhart says the IRL must settle on a design within the next three months to have it ready for 2012. While the IRL would welcome competing chassis manufacturers, it seems likely only one might be chosen.

"The hard part is it's somewhat of an economical equation," Barnhart says. "Most of them are more inclined to be in an exclusive supply situation. They don't want to lose volume, and they're looking at maximizing the parts they're building."

Barnhart also says IndyCar's length of schedule and its diversity (running on street courses, road courses and ovals) also could make multiple chassis options a cost-prohibitive problem for teams.

"If you find one car is better on a speedway than a road course and then a third car is better on 1.5-mile ovals, suddenly you find yourself needing two to three chassis to give yourself the best shot at a championship," Barnhart says. "That just raises costs of racing."

Reducing costs is a prime objective of the new chassis. Barnhart says the IRL wants to reduce the cost of a fully equipped chassis (currently about $700,000) by 40-50%.

The proposed design by Dallara (which supplies virtually all the teams with the chassis that's been in use since 2003) would cost $385,000. Dallara's new chassis would feature narrower tires, less horsepower (a drop from 630 to 570) and a lighter design (1,390 pounds vs. the current model's 1,530 pounds). The reduction in power, weight and tire width would increase fuel efficiency.

The IRL also wants the new chassis to enhance competition (particularly after a season that featured some lackluster oval races) and prefers the car is built in America. IRL technical director Les Mactaggart says the chassis also will be designed to improve fuel efficiency and reduce horsepower while maintaining 225-mph speeds with a lighter, sleeker car.

"The principal thing is to improve efficiency," he said. "By making it lighter and less aerodynamically 'draggy' and effectively reducing the power, it'll make the car more efficient and reduce the amount of fuel being used. We need to have the car more raceable and less sensitive aerodynamically, so drivers have a greater ability to overtake and are less affected by the aerodynamics of the car in front."

Safety also remains a high priority, and Mactaggart said IndyCar had found new ways to reduce frontal lift that would be incorporated into the chassis, along with changing the positioning of the sidepods to reduce the likelihood of wheel-to-wheel interlocking.

Barnhart says two engine manufacturers also have expressed interest in the IndyCar series, but "the challenge is both are looking to replace Honda as the exclusive supplier; they don't have interest and energy in competing against Honda. We're trying to find solutions, maybe by restricting spending."

Honda, which has indicated an interest in competition, is signed with the IRL for the next two seasons.

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