I was sitting in the lobby at my office the day after the Indycar ICONIC panel released news of the chassis for next season when I overheard an older couple discussing that very thing. In case you missed it, the USA Today published a 4 page spread on the Indycar Series (spectacular news in itself!). The husband asked something along the lines of, “Honey, what do you think of this car?.” She pondered for a few moments then returned with, “Looks weird, what is it?” They were discussing the large photo of the new Dallara model. Not the greatest start for the future of the series, one must admit.
The car, or tub I should say, is following principals I’ve been advocating since the beginning: don’t change anything too drastically, allow for multiple iterations, drop costs. The idea of having a base chassis, then adding bits to it that are unique to each team is something I’ve been asking for for several months. With this idea the series can bring a diverse set of race cars, but keep costs to a strict maximum. The main hill to be crossed though is finding manufacturers that are interested in building the new “Aero Kits.” As of now Dallara is the only one that has a plan to do so. The league won’t be able to rely on Lola or Swift either, as both were rejected by the series and certainly won’t be dropping money to help Dallara.
From this another interesting idea comes along, small private companies designing solutions alongside established racing manufacturers, or even the return of large car companies to the Indycar market. With the aero kits limited to $70,000 it allows for an assortment of these small boutique companies to have a chance against Dallara or Lotus.
With that all said Dallara already has a massive advantage as they have designed their kits already and can spend the remaining time perfecting them while the others start from scratch building to a template they didn’t design. All-in-all though this decision reflects what is seen by many as a step forward in the leadership and direction of American open-wheel. Some might still be alienated by Dallara but maybe those people aren’t who this car is geared towards, instead it seems the league is returning to the old formula of allowing several people not only race, but engineer these cars. Plus with the drastic cost reduction it seems those that just want to race will find it much easier, which is ALWAYS a good thing.