The Motorsport Industry Association held a forum Thursday at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Making presentations regarding their various series were Derrick Walker, IndyCar president of competition and operations; Will Phillips, IndyCar vice president of technology; and Dan Anderson, the Promoter/CEO at Indy Lights Championship presented by Cooper Tires, owner/CEO at Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda.
Walker began by saying that the full 2014 IndyCar Series rules will be coming out shortly, but without doubt the big technical news was the announcement that Chevrolet and Honda will be producing aerokits for their teams from 2015. (See separate story for full details
The aerokits will come in oval and road/street circuit specifications, and will be the same for all IndyCar circuits except Texas Motor Speedway where consideration is being given to adding more downforce level. Testing at TMS will also include a new Firestone tyre.
In 2016, Chevrolet and Honda will be able to upgrade their aerokits that will be passed through homologation, and additional engine manufacturers and/or third party vendors will also be eligible to sign up as an IndyCar-approved supplier.
Having the manufacturers provide both engines and aerokits is new for the non-spec series, and both current manufacturers have said that they welcome the opportunities it will give them to brand the appearance of the race cars closer to their own company style.
While the arrival of aerokits has certainly grabbed the headlines, Walker and Phillips also spoke about other changes that will impact series in upcoming seasons - with additional safety enhancements high on the list. For the first time IndyCar will be conducting a full side chassis impact test, with the goal of increasing the side impact protection from 25Gs to 40Gs.
Among the items being considered and tested from next week are stronger lateral side impact protection, softer head surround, stronger chassis and stronger rear wheel pods. The softer head surround is being tested with two crash dummies at the usual IndyCar testing facility, and is partly a consequence of Team Penske driver Will Power experiencing side-to-side head surround issues at Mid-Ohio this year. The plan is that every car in the 2014 Indianapolis 500 will be running the new chassis.
There will also be changes in the engine department in 2014. This year, Chevrolet ran a twin turbo engine while Honda ran a single turbo: as a result, Chevrolet has won the engine manufacturers' championship both years since its return to IndyCar in 2012 - although for 2013 it was very close and literally down to the wire and last lap.