IZOD IndyCar series chassis suppliers Dallara Automobili have publicly launched the new specification chassis that the teams will be provided with from 2012.
All teams will be required to use the same IndyCar Safety Cell chassis. However, at the unveiling at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday, Dallara were emphasising the customisation possibilities that will be available to the teams via the introduction of aero kits that will "dress" the basic chassis.
The unveiling saw two cars, both using the same basic Dallara 2012 chassis, but the cars looking strikingly different with one outfitted for ovals and the other for street tracks.
"The display cars are mock-ups of some of the things we could
be doing," said Dallara's quality control leader in the US, Sam Garrett.
"So will these be exactly what Dallara's kits are going to look like on road courses and ovals next year? No," added Tony Cotman, project leader for the new specification cars. "The idea behind these is to show two totally different-looking vehicles that underneath are the same chassis ... That's what this platform is about: allowing people the freedom to design as they wish, dream as they wish and come up with a superior product than others."
The chassis development project itself is said to be on schedule, with 95% of the parts in production and the new car set to commence testing in August. "We have a plan and it's all coming together", said Garrett. "By August, we'll already have to be into the production run for the first 30 or 40 cars." Eventually assembly of the chassis will move into a new purpose-built facility just a few hundred yards away from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Although long planned, the unveiling of the two cars this week - where they will be on display at IMS throughout the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 on May 29 - comes at a sensitive time, just days after car owners voted unanimously to delay the introduction of the crucial aero kits until 2013.
Car owners say that they are concerned about the cost of bespoke aero kits, which will be supplied by the series 2012 engine suppliers Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus.
Although each aero kit's price is set at $75,000, which is relatively inexpensive for IndyCar teams, the owners are concerned about how this might build up if there is a need for separate kits for street and oval tracks, and for each car in a multiple-car team, plus costs for back-ups, spares and replacements following on-track damage.