Once teams have persevered through
the 2017 freeze – a treading-water season
that Chevy-equipped teams may find more
palatable than Honda’s runners, perhaps?
– the reintroduction of spec bodywork for
the ’ 18 campaign will bring a full stop to
the custom aero experience. Knowing a
change is on the horizon, Kent isn’t
particularly concerned about Chevrolet
losing one of its biggest advantages, and
sees a universal kit as the perfect
enticement to attract new manufacturers.
“We won three Manufacturers’
Championships without the aero kits –
and then, when they were introduced in
2015, we captured our fourth [and fifth],”
he says. “So, we’ve had great success
with and without the aero kits, and
hopefully as we go forward to ’ 18, too.
“As IndyCar looks to continue to move
the series forward with its long-term vision
of moving back to a common kit, that will
hopefully make the sport more interesting,
not only for new fans, but also for a third
manufacturer. If you eliminate the aero
kit part of it, it will hopefully be more
attractive from the pure engine side.”
Viewing it with the benefit of hindsight,
it would be generous to position aero kits
as anything other than an educational
process for Chevy and Honda that carried
Less complex than road-course aero kits,
speedway kits center on high-speed stability
and trimming a car, rather than downforce.
sold out 100th Indianapolis 500 in May
was down to history, not aerofoils), might
IndyCar’s aero kit era be remembered
for anything positive?
“I believe that the aero kits have
moved the series forward,” says Kent.
“I think that they’ve moved the
performance level up; I think we learned
some things around safety as well, and I
think the goal is that, as the 2018 kit
comes together, we’ll take those collective
learnings and make the 2018 kit
something that is very attractive for the
participants and for the fans, too.”
Criticizing IndyCar for pressing ahead
with aero kits is easy, and likely deserved.
Lost in the conversation about aero kits,
however, has been the willingness by its
manufacturers to make an eight-figure
leap of faith to try and move the needle.
“Why would we do aero kits in the first
place?” muses St. Cyr. “HPD has been in
North American open-wheel racing
consistently for 22 years; we’re the only
manufacturer that has made that
investment, and we want to do things to
grow the IndyCar Series. We are a big
supporter of trying to grow the sport and
its appeal, and this was something they
wanted to try. In the end, you can argue
who has more desire to do that or not.”
of racing, Mark
Kent, fell in love
with the sport when
his dad took him to
the 1972 Indy 500.
to the Bowtie’s
graduate worked for
an outrageous price tag. Track records fell,
thanks to obscene downforce levels, but to
get there, steep investments were required
and the experiment pushed manufacturers,
and their teams, to budgetary extremes.
Absent the big upturn in TV figures and
attendance over the last couple years (a
The 100th Indy 500, won by
rookie Alexander Rossi (ABOVE)
came down to strategy and
eking out fuel, not aero prowess.