The Indy Racing League has announced the objectives it aims to achieve with the next generation of IZOD IndyCar Series chassis, which is scheduled to debut at the start of the 2012 season.
The League is in discussions with Dallara, DeltaWing, Lola and Swift about designing, manufacturing and supplying the new chassis, focusing on two parallel paths - one radical and one more evolutionary in design. All the while, however, it is asking that some vital attributes be built into the design, however radical and eye-catching it may be.
The new chassis must adhere to the league's already high safety standards while exploring new technology to improve safety in all aspects of the car, but must also continue to produce the exciting racing that has become a signature of the IndyCar Series without affecting other cars on track with undue sensitivity to turbulence. The goal is to provide a lighter chassis with less mass that produces the same aerodynamic effect in an efficient way, all packaged in a modern look, with more space for sponsor logos.
Despite the manufacturers in the running to build the car being international, the IRL is hoping that it will, at least, be American-made, preferably at an Indiana-based facility. It would also like the new chassis to be relevant to the future of the consumer auto industry, using innovative technology born on the racetrack that can translate to consumer cars. Finally, with the League priding itself on its role in the 'greening' of racing, it wants to maintain its position as a leader in environmentally-friendly initiatives with the new chassis.
The League will continue to work to reduce the cost of participation for teams in series, which remains an important priority in the current economic climate, and the new chassis must also have a price point that adheres to that goal.
"Two years ago the league engaged both the Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena and College for Creative Studies in Detroit in conceptual exercises about the next generation of car," Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations, noted, "For the last year, we have engaged in ongoing conversations with four chassis makers on two different design tracks. Now we are receiving concepts and will make a decision soon.
"Our chassis is the most complex challenge in world motorsports because of the variety of race courses where we compete. It must be designed to run at 235mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and protect drivers and spectators in high-speed crashes, but it must be able to perform on superspeedways, speedways and short ovals well as natural terrain road courses and temporary circuits."
Barnhart said the first and foremost requirement for the new chassis is safety, based on three decades of experience with the current chassis.
"Our drivers take the greatest risks in the world of sports driving Indycars and it is paramount we have the best safety features designed into this next generation of cars," he said, "It is also important that we continue to develop more relevance between the new generation of IndyCars and the cars that world manufacturers will be producing in the future. Finally, we have stipulated that the new chassis must be made in the United States, preferably Indiana, to take advantage of more competitive pricing and the existing American supplier network for parts and protect our team from issues with currency fluctuations."
The current chassis is an ageing design produced by Dallara that was last updated in 2003.