n Hollywood, actors want to be
musicians; musicians want to be actors.
And if you’ve seen or heard any of their
fish-out-of-water attempts to straddle two
worlds, the results aren’t always so great.
The IZOD IndyCar Series has followed a
similar path with the Dallara DW12 in its
attempts to blend two very different,
non-complementary realms, and the
product’s suffered the same mixed reviews.
Taking the unprecedented step to
combine open engine and aero kit
competition with a spec chassis – the
scourge of modern racing – the series has
managed to achieve a balance where the
likes of Chevyrolet, Honda and Lotus have
joined the fray with variations on the
2.2-liter, turbocharged V6 theme and,
looking ahead, all three have announced
their intent to produce aero kits for 2013.
At least through the first half of the
2012 season, IndyCar’s new controlled-freedom formula produced great racing,
but it’s hard to ignore the inherent
Catch- 22 that was created. Like trying to
bring oppositely charged magnets
together, can the series genuinely claim
to embrace modern technology while
holding firm to its spec-car ways?
The early read on the situation reveals
that for those who have a product to sell,
there’s a small platform to express their
creativity. But for those who are coming
out of pocket to purchase or lease these
items, switching to new cars and engines
has been little more than a paint-by-the-numbers exercise.
f. peirce Williams/lAt
”Bolt it together, put some stickers on
it and then don’t touch the damn thing,”
is the most commonly held view in the
garage, according to a veteran crew chief.
Cost containment has driven a rather
unique and somewhat conflicted
approach to what teams can do with the
D W12. While engine manufacturers and
despite the variety in
engine makes, 2012
indycars are outwardly
differentiated only by
their paint schemes.
that should change
next year, when the
introduction of new
aero kits mean it’s not
just honda and chevy
logos (left) hinting
at the differences
under the bodywork.
“the responsibility rests with the
manufacturers to work within their
own limits to achieve their goals”
future aero kit producers will be given
leeway to express themselves, the folks
who own the cars have been told to leave
their inventive ways at the door.
“Our challenge was to provide an
environment where a new chassis with
modern safety advancements was made
available at a reduced price, while inviting
engine competition at a level where the
investment required was both reasonable
and achievable by a variety of
manufacturers,” says Will Phillips, the
IndyCar Series’ vp of technology. “This
is reflected in our rule book, which acts as
a filter to place the emphasis on making
IndyCar racing more affordable while
preventing the teams from straying into
areas they would like to, but which
ultimately drive up the cost of
competition beyond reason.”
While the efforts to limit costs have
been somewhat successful, the controlled-
freedom experiment has failed to deliver
in one major area on the public stage.
Other than the artistic license taken with
paint schemes, the average fan can’t
distinguish between the cars powered by
the three manufacturers on television. In
person, the unique exhaust note from
each engine improves the situation only
slightly. From the grandstands, until aero
kits appear, diversity is more of a veneer
TECH MELTING POT
the 1964 indy 500 will
always be remembered
for tragedy, but the
relatively free rules of
the time meant it was
also a race when one
era of design had its
final hurrah, a new one
asserted itself and
original ideas (not always
successful) were still rife.
A. J. foyt’s winning Watson-offy
gave the mighty, era-defining
roadsters one last day in the sun,
before the rear-engined revolution
consigned them to history.
mickey thompson’s lowline Sears
Allstate Specials ran a streamlined
body. their large fuel capacity
would be a factor in the severity
of dave macdonald’s accident.
famed innovator Smokey Yunick’s
hurst floor Shift housed the
driver in a “sidecar.” it reached
150mph in practice, but Bobby
Johns crashed it before qualifying.
colin chapman’s graceful,
ford-powered lotus 34 took the
pole with Jim clark, dominated
the early laps, but retired with a
collapsed rear suspension.