IndyCar fans likely to get the Indy 500 they hope for …

Posted: June 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

By: Wm. LaDow

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Published in the Post-Tribune – A Chicago Sun-Times Media Publication

IndyCar fans wanted change. 

They wanted a return to the days of turbochargers, radical wing design and most importantly; speed. The very attributes that made the Indy 500 the world’s greatest race.

Randy Bernard, IndyCar CEO, didn’t back down from the challenge and created the ICONIC (Innovative, Competitive, Open-Wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-Effective) IndyCar Series Advisory Committee launching a program to re-invent IndyCar.

First, three new engine suppliers were selected; Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus.

Then constructors; Bat Engineering, DeltaWing, Lola, Swift and Dallara (who ultimately was awarded the contract) all participated in the development of the new chassis.

The primary focus was simple; safety for the driver.

The uniqueness of the designs made it enormously difficult to finally arrive at a choice, but in July 2010, the die was cast.

In mid-2011, with the prototype already in production, the Indy 500 winning team of Bryan Herta Autosport, with two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, was selected as the test team.

Herta and Wheldon began testing the new chassis in August 2011, with their early efforts revealing significant handling and weight distribution problems with the car. Following Wheldon’s death, (and the naming of the car the DW12 in his honor) close friends Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti, both feeling strongly that the speed and handling issues needed to be addressed, convinced IndyCar officials and Dallara to test both scale model and full size components in the wind tunnel at the Auto Research Center in North Carolina.

Since race teams arrived here in Indy and began practicing for the 500, the cars have all proven to have unique tow (or drafting) qualities that have made the DW12 extremely racy. The car punches a hole in the air estimated to be 8-12 inches larger than the old chassis and speeds skyrocket when the DW12’s run together. During practice sessions and qualifying, 16 drivers posted speeds above 225 mph. IndyCar teams have been able to dial in the car’s downforce so well that there was only one minor incident during the entire practice period prior to the running for the pole. This is partly due to the rear-wheel guards and wings creating less drag and more downforce.

With smaller fuel cells resulting in more pit stops during the race, different engines (none of which has ever run the Indy 500 mile gauntlet), IndyCar fans are in for a quite a show come race day.

Photos Courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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