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IndyCar officials announce preliminary details of return to innovation

May 23, 2013, 7:00 PM EDT


Set against a backdrop of the historic cars that have graced Indianapolis Motor Speedway for more than a century, at the IMS Museum, IndyCar’s new leaders described the preliminary plan for innovation to return to the series.

The key word here is “preliminary.” Specific details were hard to find in the formal remarks made Thursday by Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, head of IndyCar’s parent company, and IndyCar’s new President of Competition/Operations Derrick Walker, who will take his new post after the month of May concludes.

The official line from the sanctioning body is that IndyCar will open the door to increased technical innovation in its cars and safety, with Walker directly responsible for identifying specific improvements and guiding their implementation.

Miles wants to see big speeds return to the Speedway – pun intended. Arie Luyendyk has the four-lap track record (236.986 mph),  the single-lap record (237.498 mph) and unofficial practice lap record (239.260) at IMS, all set in 1996 with a previous-year Reynard-Ford Cosworth IndyCar.

“We want to step up our game,” Miles said. “We’ve achieved a great car platform, so now we can move forward to explore what’s next.”

Ways to do so, at least with the current Dallara DW12 chassis and the 2.2L V6 turbocharged engines from Honda and Chevrolet, include the long-discussed but not-yet-finalized introduction of aero kits, and the plea from drivers, teams and fans alike for – as “Top Gear’s” Jeremy Clarkson might say – more power.

Walker said aero kits are more likely to see the light of day first, before manufacturers agree to a horsepower increase.

“The first bit will likely be aero kits,” said Walker. “There is room for the cars to advance aerodynamically.”

There’s a fine line to ensure innovation returns and the solid nature of the current IndyCar on-track product isn’t affected as a result, Walker said.

“There is plenty of speed in this car if we want to let it go, and if we can manage it,” he said. “To get where we want to go, it will take time. It will take a very careful structuring.”

In March, IndyCar announced the formation of an 11-member advisory Competition Committee. Members on it include Walker, officials from Dallara, HPD, Chevrolet and Firestone, other IndyCar senior officials and two drivers (Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dario Franchitti) and two team representatives (Tim Cindric, Penske and Bryan Herta).

  1. midtec2005 - May 23, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    I think 3 things need to happen:

    Reduce the downforce produced by the underwing, to help prevent pack racing.

    Raise the engine rev limit to something like 16000 or 18000, this would increase power and make a better noise! If not this, then think of a completely different engine formula that interests manufacturers.

    Introduce aero kits.

    Pretty simple ideas. I was at Pole day, fans were really hoping for a 230 mph lap. The speeds will bring people in, there’s no doubt.

    • genescanlon - May 23, 2013 at 9:05 PM

      Current engines can’t reliably rev that high. Pneumatic valve trains are needed to go much past 12000rpm. F1 uses such a system.

      The current engine formulation is the most interesting formula for manufacturers. 12,000 rpm, direct injection/port injection hybrid, high boost, low displacement. ala Ford ecoboost. F1 is FOLLOWING Indycar and going to this technology next year.

      • midtec2005 - May 24, 2013 at 12:23 AM

        Yeah I figured new designs would be needed to rev that high, but Indycars did it all the way back in the early 90s. But it would be a big cost outlay for the manufacturers, so your right, it’s probably not reasonable. Just wishful thinking I guess. That’s why I said or something that would raise manufacturer interest. Like using stock parts in some way. One thing for certain is they need more power. If they can make that happen by modifying the current engine package then that is fine by me.

  2. f1fan1 - May 24, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    The areo kit concept is a bad joke and typical of the IRL way of half-assing everything they do. New “barbie clothes” on a single, spec chassis and simply increasing HP via boost in the existing engine spec isn’t going to do anything meaningful.

    If they want to allow true innovation, dump the current specs, open up the damn rulebook and allow multiple chassis and engine manufacturers. Ideal HP should be in the 850-900HP range that scream at 15-18k RPM

    Make the cars powerful, beautiful beasts that few have the skills to master, unlike today’s overly-downforced POS that almost anyone can come in and drive competitively with an hour’s practice.

    Of course, if all they do is continue to go from city to city trying to empty various city coffers by pimping their slow speed street race/festivals, it won’t matter one bit anyway.

    Today’s version of H-G owned Indy car is something like a turd being flushed in a plugged up toilet. It hasn’t dissapeared completely, but the plunger is just a foot away.

    • moezilla - May 25, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      …If they want to allow true innovation, dump the current specs, open up the damn rulebook and allow multiple chassis and engine manufacturers. Ideal HP should be in the 850-900HP range that scream at 15-18k RPM…Well, I guess F1Fan1 suits you…any reason why you’re not commenting on an actual Formula 1 article? The reason Indy Car is as popular as it is,and it’s not that popular, is that it hasn’t turned into a “big money” monster like F1 has become. I’ll take high end spec racing all day long….feel free to improve the aero or bump up the HP but keep it within levels attainable for as many teams to compete as possible…yesterday’s 4 wide finish in the Indy Lite race at Indy is a perfect example…

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