a REaSON tO bE diffERENt
engine, but when it comes to something
as nuanced and unfamiliar as aero kits,
costs and value are hard to define.
And at a series-mandated purchase
price of $75,000 per kit, it definitely won’t
be a profit-making endeavor for the
manufacturers. “It ain’t cheap,” says Chevy’s
IndyCar program manager Chris Berube.
“I won’t say how much, but it’s millions.”
“It’s not just, ‘We’ll put a Chevy or a
Honda logo on the side of the car and
we’ll say it’s an aero kit,’” adds Walker.
“There is real engineering going on, and
that’s a considerable investment. It’s
thousands of hours of work just to create
the final design. It’s going back to when
Indy cars were continually evolving. And
once the first kits appear, there will be
The giant workload was spawned by
IndyCar’s thin aero-kit rulebook. The
new-for-2015 floor from Dallara (which
induces a 300lb downforce reduction),
nose, shock cover, mirrors, roll hoop
shroud, internal ducting and rear wing
main plane are the only significant
bodywork items that cannot be modified.
From the current car, it leaves everything
that attaches to the nose, all that mounts to
the primary rear-wing element, the
sidepods, engine cover and rear wheel
IndyCar has established a defined
schedule for aero kit testing,
homologation and introduction –
although the manufacturers have
been afforded an exceptional amount
of leeway to keep their prized shapes
hidden from the competition.
Where spy shots of their respective
engines would tell only part of the tale,
photos of the Chevrolet or Honda aero
kit captured during pre-homologation
testing would give both sides time to
model and possibly steal ideas, leading
to a virtual and real-world lockdown
until the last possible moment.
“We’re in no rush to let our work be
seen,” says Honda Performance
Development VP Steve Eriksen.
Oct. 6 was the official opening day
for on-track aero kit testing, and it
came after thousands of miles
completed by drivers secreted away
on simulators. Manufacturers have
until Jan. 17, 2015, to complete six
days of their choosing with the aero
kit prototypes, and must submit all
parts for homologation by the 18th.
Benchmarking both aero kits will
take place in the digital realm before
IndyCar can gauge their relative
performance on the race track.
“We’ve started with sims and await
more numbers to be able to compare
them; manufacturers are required to
provide IndyCar with their
performance estimates and IndyCar
will attend the manufacturer tests and
gather data,” says IndyCar president
of competition Derrick Walker. “Lastly,
we may well do a full-size wind tunnel
test to see for ourselves.”
The question of when fans will get
their first chance to see images of
aero kits is still under negotiation
between Chevy, Honda and the series.
“If it’s agreed upon by the
manufacturers, I’ve asked our media
department to work with the
manufacturers to try and facilitate
something for the fans to see where
we are heading,” says Walker.
Pratt & Miller, makers of Chevy’s
aero kit, and Wirth Research, which
leads Honda’s project in collaboration
with HPD, will have very little time to
produce their wares with a March 1
delivery date. IndyCar’s Spring Training
will take place beginning March 16 at
Barber Motorsports Park, where both
kits will share the track for the first
time. Two weeks later, the race debut for
aero kits will be St. Pete, March 30.
NOt SHOWiNG tHEiR HaNdS
bEhind ClosEd dooRs
Similar to recent
LMP1 and P2 sports
car designs, HPD is
working with Wirth
Research on its
2015 IndyCar aero
kits. Wirth’s emphasis
on virtual design
seems well suited
to the challenge.
Chevrolet’s 2015 IndyCar aero kits are
being designed and developed in
conjunction with its long-time racing
technology partner, Pratt & Miller.
WiRTh ThE WAi T
Ed Carpenter celebrates
winning the 2014 indy 500
pole. his average speed over
four laps was 231.067mph.
Using Carpenter’s pole speed
progression as a baseline, the next
significant engine performance
upgrade comes in 2016, meaning
that aero kit manufacturers will
need to find 3.9mph through
efficiencies to meet IndyCar’s
desired goal for 2015.
The series wants to hit 237mph
in 2017 through more power and
tire development, and the process
could start anew in 2018 when
the successor for the DW12 is
expected to be introduced.
(bElo W) detroit
Walker, lays out
the framework for
of manufacturer-designed aero kits.