2012 IndyCar Racing
Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon took to the cockpit at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the first of his 12 scheduled days of evaluation testing of the prototype 2012 IndyCar Dallara, which is powered by the first of the 2.2-liter turbocharged Honda V6 engines. Additional testing will take place on three road course and three ovals, IndyCar announced.
“It's a great day,” project manager Tony Cotman told IndyCar.com. “To see the work of many individuals in a very short amount of time out on the racetrack...it's the start of a new era for IndyCar.”
The new design – a Dallara rolling chassis that will feature different body coverings for ovals and road/street courses – was recommended to the sanctioning body by the seven-member advisory committee in July 2010 after it reviewed multiple manufacturer concepts. It will replace the chassis that came on line in 2003 and was originally designed exclusively for oval racing.
No times were announced from the test, which was closed to the public. IndyCar said the next test of the prototype will be conducted next month at Texas Motor Speedway, again with Wheldon at the controls.
"It's a lighter car, it has more horsepower and it has a lot less drag than the current car, so naturally on the right day it will go quicker and that's something that the fans have to look forward to," Cotman added. "I think it also will provide a different type of racing with different engine manufacturers, too. It will be interesting, it will be exciting and it will be a bit of a change."
Engine manufacturers, each of whom have ordered a next-generation chassis, will commence testing in early October with their respective aligned teams. So far, Chip Ganassi Racing, A.J. Foyt Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports have signed on with Honda. Team Penske is the anchor team for Chevrolet.
The race teams are scheduled to receive their first chassis in mid-December.
Upgrades incorporated into the 2012 IndyCar, based on recommendations by INDYCAR through its ongoing testing program, will increase the protection of drivers.
The cockpit is longer and wider than the current Dallara Automobili monocoque, which allows for additional padding to protect the driver upon impact. There is 3 inches of Expanded Polypropylene foam behind the driver’s seat and 1.5 inches under the seat. Also, a “floating headrest” works in conjunction with the mandatory HANS device attached to the helmet.
“What that means is that before the driver ever pours his custom fit seat they will already have an inch and a half of material that will protect them in a vertical load situation, which is what Justin Wilson went through at Mid-Ohio,” INDYCAR director of engineering Jeff Horton said. “Because of his height and the design of that car, he actually has nothing underneath him. He basically sits right on the floor so all the load that the chassis saw was transmitted to straight up his spine.
“With the foam in the new car, it potentially should prevent most of those types of injuries. In addition, we designed in 3 inches off EPP on the back of the car. Again, before a driver ever pours his custom fit seat he’s got 3 inches of protection, which our data shows will prevent most injuries.”
The wider chassis, updated to the FIA cockpit opening (21.6 inches) provides for extra foam along the sides of the driver that will protect them in a lateral impact. The additions complement the Zylon panels, which were extended, that are attached to the sides of the chassis that help prevent punctures.
“The car also has been made a little bit longer in that area so that a tall driver can be incorporated and not give up safety systems,” Horton noted. “On the current car, our tall drivers have to compromise something at the rear to fit in the car and get the pedals adjusted comfortably – they actually move them all the way forward. In this current car, the driver should be in a normal seating position.
“The headrest has been redesigned on our recommendations as well, with the addition of a thicker cross-section where the helmet will hit in a rearward accident. The current car (designed a decade ago) came about before the HANS was mandatory so to get the HANS to fit correctly we had to take some material out of the current headrest; that’s been put back into this car.”
According to Horton, Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) is the preferred material for the seat bottom/back and headrest over Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) because of its higher compressive strength. EPP is formed by individual plastic beads being injected into a steam chest mold, where the beads are fused under steam heat and pressure to form a semi-rigid and lightweight molded product.
“The nice part of the EPP foam is that it doesn’t have any glue in it,” he said, “so it’s considered a multi-hit foam. EPS deforms permanently because of the glue in it. You have to think of things like crew members and drivers climbing in and out of the cockpit and they put their foot on it. The EPS could be deformed and not perform properly in an accident.”
Trammel and Horton have advocated driver seats to be constructed solely of EPP, which would further increase protection. EPS seats are formed by mixing beads and glue, put it in a plastic bag and have the driver sit on it for a mold. After it dries, it’s covered with a fire-retardant material.
“It’s up to our standards, but the thing is it’s a one-hit seat,” Horton said. “The glue in the beads will deform permanently when impacted hard.”
Creating an EPP seat takes a few more steps – an EPS seat if formed, scanned and then machined out of an EPP block. Combined with the added EPP foam in the bottom, back and headrest, protection has been significantly increased.
“If a driver happens to take multiple hits in a single accident, like Simona (de Silvestro) at Milwaukee, the 3 inches of material will protect them much better than the current car,” Horton said.
INDYCAR, using sled testing with its crash test dummy THOR, will focus next on improvements in frontal impact safety.
“We’ve been very lucky in this series that our tubs and chassis have been very safe,” Horton added. “We’ve been able to nitpick at stuff like the headrest design, and this new car incorporates what we learned in seating. In IndyCar, some of our big injuries have been in frontal. We’ve done one round of sled testing and learned a great deal. Once we learn and validate more that can be of benefit, it will be incorporated in this car.”
To a casual observer visiting Barber Motorsports Park on Friday the sleek, black car speeding around the track probably looked like a cross between a stealth fighter and the Batmobile.
It definitely would not have looked like any Indy car that has ever raced at the 2.38-mile road course.
A technical crew from the IZOD IndyCar Series leased the track Friday for a closed test session for the new car that IndyCar will use in 2012, bringing along Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon to drive it.
"Obviously from a visual perspective it's incredibly different," Wheldon said. "It's very eye-catching."
The new car will have a completely new chassis and Dallara-designed outer shell, known as an aero kit, as well as a new engine. It will be the first new car for the series in almost a decade.
"IndyCar has so much momentum it's important to continue that," Wheldon said. "We've had the same car for a long time."
And Wheldon said the car should be a big hit with fans.
"They'll like the fact that we have a turbocharged engine," he said.
In fact, the car will have one of three different engines. That's a big change from the current car, which uses Honda engines exclusively. Starting in 2012 three manufacturers -- Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus -- will produce IndyCar engines.
One of those new engines was provided by Honda for Friday's test at Barber, prompting the need for closing the test session. Honda doesn't want photos of the engine or technical data derived from it made public.
"We're respecting their request to keep it under wraps," said Will Phillips, IndyCar's vice president for technology.
Friday's session at Barber was the second test for the new car, Phillips said. It went through a brief shakedown at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course before coming to Barber. And over the next month it'll be tested at all the different tracks that IndyCar races on -- mile-and-a-half ovals like Texas Motor Speedway, short tracks and road courses.
After that, manufacturers will be given cars to do their own testing with their engines. By 2012 teams will have to replace their current cars with the new cars, which will cost $385,800 each, engine not included.
That will require a substantial investment up front but in the long run it's intended to save teams money. The new car costs 40 percent less than the current one, Phillips said.
What happens to the current cars -- can they be used in another series or will they end up as museum pieces? -- is still undecided.
"We're working on that," Phillips said.
The new car also sports substantial safety improvements. Extra foam padding has been installed behind and underneath the driver, improvements that Phillips said would have prevented the type of injuries that Justin Wilson sustained in a crash this year.
It will also do away with the clutch pedal and move the shifting function to the wheel. And side pods enclosing the rear wheels will make crash-inducing, wheel-to-wheel contact during a race less likely.
But mostly it's intended to give the series a new look. It was actually supposed to give the series multiple new looks and get IndyCar away from being such a spec series with identical-looking cars.
Different aero kits for the car with different designs from each manufacturer were supposed to be introduced in 2012 along with the new engine and chassis.
But that change has been delayed a year in order to spread the cost out for teams. The 2012 car will only use the Dallara aero kit.
"It's proven to be very fast and very confidence inspiring," said Wheldon, who travels with the test team and may only drive in a couple more races this year. "I'm very much focused on this."
INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips said the Sept. 1 test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the most valuable yet in validating the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series chassis, which is the purpose of the initial INDYCAR program.
Test driver Dan Wheldon put almost 400 miles on the Dallara Automobili-built chassis, running clockwise on the Grand Am/former Formula One course that incorporates tight and sweeping corners along with Turns 2 and 1 and much of the frontstrecth of the oval.
“The test on the road course was good because we really wanted to get high mileage on the car, consistently get the car hot and keep it hot for a long period of time,” Phillips said.
“There was really good loading on the car, a lot of full-throttle time, which gave us a lot of ability to get aero numbers off the car by running up the straight. We could run at various speeds, picked different aero levels out, so that was very helpful. The loading, the G forces on the car, were reasonably high so we got high temps and put enough load on the car so we can now crack check and test all the suspension prior to giving us the confidence we want going to any oval.”
Wheldon was impressed with the car’s consistency through the day, particularly the brake pedal that didn’t “get soft” running that much mileage in one day.
The previous test was conducted at Barber Motorsports Park, and the interim days were constructive for Dallara to “finalize little bits and pieces of wiring and plumbing, to do some calibrations of sensors and that type of thing,” according to Phillips.
Next up is three days on the Sebring International short course.
“It’s a great place for finding out if any component is going to break because it’s very bumpy, it’s hard work on the car and it’s hot. Even though it was almost 100 degrees while on the Indy road course, there were no issues with gearbox, water or oil temperatures, so all those systems are working very well. Sebring will continue to prove that and we’ll vibration check the car and then we’ll move on to a series of oval tests.”
INDYCAR testing will continue through September, with the three engines manufacturers (Honda, Chevrolet, Lotus) commencing their testing in early October. Teams are schedule to take delivery of their first chassis in mid-December and team testing will start early in 2012.
In two days of testing the 2012 prototype chassis, Dan Wheldon drove almost the equivalent of an IZOD IndyCar Series race each day on the .875-mile Iowa Speedway oval.
It was time well spent, according to INDYCAR vice president of technology WIll Phillips, as the car went through a battery of short and long runs for the first time on an oval. Four road course tests preceded the time at Iowa Speedway, where the IZOD IndyCar Series will compete next June.
“I'm very pleased with how it went,” said Phillips, who is overseeing the initial phase of the testing program. “We put in good mileage with no issues at all. We ran all sorts of aero configurations."
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will play host to the next oval test of the 2012 car next week. Engine manufacturers will commence with their own on-track testing program in earnest in early October, and teams are scheduled to take delivery of their first chassis in mid-December.
“The tests are very disciplined with everyone involved," said Wheldon, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion. "We have several different manufacturers here that are testing their products: Honda, Dallara, Xtrac and several more so this makes for lots of different components that we need to test during our runs.
"Because this is the first test on an oval, there are measurements that have to be done. Things have to be tested and looked at after each given run so it is always good to be doing stuff like this. This program is very rewarding. The people involved in it, Bryan Herta Autosport team, has done a phenomenal job. The car has really evolved from our first test.
"We have some great manufacturers with a common goal to not only impress the fans with a new car but also build excitement.”
Wheldon, who will compete in the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships on Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, said though not all the in-car tools have been at his disposal yet all the drivers will appreciate the additions and safety features.
“INDYCAR has a great momentum right now. One thing I keep saying in the debriefs is that it is going to be difficult to improve significantly with the on-track product," he said. "The races this season have been phenomenal, whether it has been on a road course or an oval so that will be difficult to beat. But we are certainly working on that.
"This is a fresh look and it's more modern with a lot of great things about it. It has only two pedals in the car because of the hand clutch. It has a turbocharged engine. We are going to have multiple engine manufacturers involved, and with all of these changes comes a lot of excitement.
"I think when the team owners receive the 2012 car, they are going to know that Dallara has made every effort to improve on the current car. It’s exciting from a safety aspect. There has been a lot of effort that has gone into that. This has been a great program to be involved with and I hope it gives me a leg up for next year."
Brembo has been named the exclusive supplier of brake systems for the IZOD IndyCar Series car, which debuts in 2012.
Brembo will initially deliver brake systems directly to Dallara Automobili, the manufacturer of the new chassis. Brembo’s North American racing operation headquartered in Mooresville, N.C., will provide parts and support to the teams throughout the season. The agreement runs through 2015.
Brembo’s design of the new brake system was based on the IZOD IndyCar Series’ requirements for a reliable, strong yet lightweight system that yielded high performance at a competitive cost. The sanctioning body also wanted the same brake system to be used for both ovals and road/street courses.
Brembo engineered a six-piston, monobloc aluminum caliper machined from billet with titanium-radiated pistons. The system will be used on all four wheels of the new chassis. Brembo’s six-piston caliper will increase stiffness and performance of the system without comprising weight requirements.
The new system will incorporate lightweight carbon-carbon discs -- similar to rotors used in Formula 1 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans -- and carbon pads. These components will allow teams to run the entire season, optimizing the quantity of components needed.
The occasion was a three-day superspeedway validation session of the Dallara Automobili-built chassis before engine manufacturers begin their testing in earnest Oct. 4-5 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with drivers Scott Dixon (Honda) and Will Power (Chevrolet) in their own chassis. Teams are scheduled to take delivery of their first chassis in mid-December and commence testing after the first of the year.
“We have to manage our expectations," Wheldon said. "I know everybody wants to see huge speeds, but it’s about doing what’s right for the car. This is our final test and it’s important that we learn enough so when the customers get their cars we feel we’ve given them something they’ll be very happy with.”
Overall, the six weeks of on-track validation with the prototype chassis, working through issues and modifying appendages, has been fruitful and will be beneficial in the long term. INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips said that the sanctioning body next will work with the manufacturers during their test period of the 2.2-liter, V-6, turbocharged engines.
“We’ve gone through all the different types of circuits but one (1.5-mile oval, which will be addressed during the manufacturer test phase) and validated the aero configuration against the speed that we intend to have for next year,” Phillips said. “It’s really been a good collaboration from Bryan Herta Autosport, from Dan and his previous experience and from Dallara.”
Aerodynamic and mechanical information has been collected into a Dallara “megabook” – a spreadsheet – that will be delivered with base information to teams. Dallara Automobili has begunn assembling chassis at a temporary facility in Speedway, Ind., until their North American headquarters across the street is completed by the end of the year.
“It’s been very good to be part of the process – to learn about the car, to be at the track and help in the initial testing and development of the car,” team co-owner Bryan Herta said. “Some things take a bit getting used to, but I would say this car represents an improvement in almost every area and that’s what we’ve been doing. It’s lighter, safer, faster and we’ve worked to validate the mechanical reliability of the car and making sure the way Dallara has designed and engineered the car to perform that the wind tunnel numbers are matching up on track.”
The program on the 2.5-mile oval also includes a Firestone tire test. Next week, Wheldon will return with three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves and Graham Rahal for tire testing in the current Honda-powered Dallara “to get a good back-to-back comparison,” according to Firestone Racing senior project engineer Dale Harrigle.
The 2012 car is lighter and its oval and road/street aero packages will produce different tendencies than the current chassis. Tire testing on ovals and road courses will be built into the manufacturer test period through mid-December.
“We’re doing our due diligence to make sure we don’t have any issues,” Harrigle said. “We’ve been working with Dallara and with INDYCAR to confirm the changes to the car, but still nothing beats track testing to make sure we’re in good shape for next year’s Indy 500.”
Spectators, INDYCAR director of engine development Trevor Knowles predicts, will be able to distinguish which manufacturer “is coming by just by the sound of the engine” during the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
He’s among the few to have heard on the dynamometer the developmental 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6s of Honda and Chevrolet that will power the new Dallara Automobili-built chassis, and will be able to decipher more during the 10-week manufacturer development program that commences Oct. 3-4 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Chevrolet (Will Power driving) and Honda (Scott Dixon). Lotus is expected to join the process soon.
“Even though the engine configuration – V-6, same capacity, same engine speeds – (is the same), the three engines are quite different designs,” Knowles said. “I’m not sure how much of that sound difference is single turbo and the other a double turbo or how much is just inherent to the engine design and the variations of the exhaust systems.”
INDYCAR and Dallara, in conjunction with Bryan Herta Autosport and driver Dan Wheldon, completed seven weeks of on-track validation of the prototype chassis Sept. 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It also zipped around the .875-mile Iowa Speedway, Barber Motorsports Park, Sebring International and Mid-Ohio, though speed records weren’t the goal.
“The purpose of this test is to prove the chassis performs as it was predicted by the simulations and Dallara carried out in design and constructing it, and for that reason we don’t need to be going 230 mph,” Knowles said.
Honda, the sole engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series since 2006, provided an early development 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6 for use in the chassis validation program.
“On the dyno back at HPD we’ve made significant progress with the engine compared to where we are here,” Honda Performance Development technical director Roger Griffiths said. “What we’ve fundamentally concentrated on here is providing INDYCAR and Dallara with a reliable and stable package. We’ve not been doing any engine development work at the track. We’re not running the ECU that is the series spec. That will come when we do our own testing. That’s when the development program will accelerate rapidly.”
That testing period covers a variety of speedways and road courses. GM Racnig director Mark Kent said he's eager to hear the engine on the racetrack.
"After months of testing the Chevy V-6 IndyCar engine on the engine dynamometer, it is very exciting to move on to the in-vehicle testing phase of the program,” he said. “The Chevrolet test team, consisting of representatives from all of our Chevrolet IndyCar teams, Ilmor Engineering and Chevrolet, has worked tirelessly during the past few weeks installing the Chevy V-6 IndyCar engine in the new chassis and preparing the car for the Mid-Ohio test. We're looking forward to the first official vehicle test.”
INDYCAR has established parameters of 550 horsepower for ovals and 700 horsepower for road/street courses. The speedway number is derived from less drag on the 2012 car compared to current Dallara chassis that’s been in use since 2003, while the road/street circuit high end is for acceleration out of corners.
“We know how fast we’re able to go and so with that and the drag we know what power we need to get there,” said Knowles, who will work with the manufacturers during the development period through mid-December.
From design to dyno is one phase, with the “real work” done at the track, according the Griffiths. With an early January delivery date to teams for their own testing programs, going back to the drawing board isn’t an option.
“It focuses your attention,” Griffiths said. “We have a mind-set of the production element of this engine because we can’t wait until the week prior to the first race and say, ‘OK, now we have our spec, let’s go make stuff.’ We have a plan. We have to get our development done early enough that we can press the buttons and make the orders and supply engines for the teams.
“The engines that the teams will be getting in January will be late-stage development engines, but they still won’t be the final spec. We have to homologate the engine 30 days before the first race so we’ll need to meet that time frame, and that’s when we’re committing to our Race 1 spec.
“During the course of the season there are a number of open development items on the engine that will allow us to continually evolve the engine through the course of the season. It’s not we’re going to put our feet up and stop working 30 days prior to the first race.”
Honda, which committed to the 2012 car project early on, has advocated manufacturer competition since it joined the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2003. The 2012 engine specs were announced in June 2010.
“We’re all engineers and get excited by this kind of stuff,” Griffiths said. “We didn’t come to work for HPD to build spec engines; we came to go racing. We all want to go race in competition and see what we can do. We love the challenges; we love the fun and fight. There will be high periods and low periods, and it’s the combination of both that keeps driving you on.”
Driving the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car the previous seven weeks of validation testing, in which the sightlines are broader because of driver positioning and chassis architecture, gave the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion a keen perspective.
“Safety is something we’ve worked hard to make a lot better, which includes the driver’s seat and padding underneath and behind them,” said INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips, who oversaw phase 1 of the test program. “We’ll learn more as we start to fit more drivers into the car and we’ll get more feedback as new drivers start the manufacturer phase.”
That 10-week block began in earnest Oct. 4 as Honda (Scott Dixon driving) and Chevrolet (Will Power) transitioned from testing the 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6 engines from the dynamometer to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in their own Dallara Automobili-built chassis. A second two-day test is scheduled for the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway following the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships Presented by Honda on Oct. 16.
"It's a lot lighter, it's more nimble and to me, it's more up to date," Dixon said after the first day.
In the meantime, data gathered during the chassis tests at three road courses and two ovals will be digested and assimilated in the first production order scheduled to be delivered to IZOD IndyCar Series teams in mid-December. They’ll start testing with associated manufacturers after the first of the year as the series will have engine manufacturer competition for the first time since 2005. The season opener is March 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Phillips, 2012 car project manager Tony Cotman and INDYCAR director of engine development Trevor Knowles watched Wheldon ease the new car off of the Mid-Ohio pit lane Aug. 8 during its maiden on-track activity. They would have liked seven months instead of seven weeks for the homologation.
“Quickly the collaboration between INDYCAR, Dallara, the test team, Bryan Herta Autosport, and Dan was established and has done a really good job,” Phillips said. “He’s focused on what’s been needed from him to provide the feedback to Dallara and be consistent and concise. You couldn’t have asked for more in that respect.
“Have we achieved every single goal? Most of them. Have we achieved the speeds at each track that we wanted to? No, simply because it’s so early in the development of the engine program and the car itself. Are the indications good on what we’ve done? Yes. We’re happy that the car has the potential to meet and or exceed the expectations that we will have. Do we expect lap times to be quicker on the road and street circuits? Yes. On the short ovals? Yes. Indy is the hardest one to predict where it’s going to be, but we were very pleased with the test there.”
Three days were dedicated on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – a capricious 2.5 miles of asphalt that has tested man and machine for more than 100 years – last week.
“Our first goal was to go out and get the car flat and make sure the car was capable of doing that,” Phillips said. “Once we did that, we started to trim the car a little bit and then went up and down various aero levels to give us more than one data point. We didn’t try to do anything to make us go faster than we were. We were running around 211 mph as the average and were looking at our top speeds were and what our deltas were between top speed and corners and comparing that to the current car.***8232; “So it wasn’t out there to set a particular time; Honda is six months away from their race engine.”
Weather, production schedules and track availability during the validation period conspired to erase a few items that were on the checklist.
“Some of the instrumentation we’ll be using to monitor boost and engine functions we still have a test program that we’ll work with the manufacturers in Phase 2 of the testing to run those and collect the data so we’ll know we have the resources in place to effectively monitor and control what we need to do as the series,” Phillips said.
Also included in the Speedway program was the placement and functionality of four HD camera mounts on the car for 2012 – the rotation camera on top of the roll hoop, one on the right rear wing endplate, another on the right intake duct looking through the suspension and another in a rearview mirror looking back at the driver.
“If one car is using the camera, every other car will be running a dummy camera,” Phillips noted. “We needed to check that there were no vibration issues, safety issues.”
Overall, Phillips said he’s pleased with the program, which is on schedule as laid out in July 2010, though there are many long days ahead.
“The process I think we went about it the right way, working with Dallara very closely in trying to make sure we ran through all the different aero configurations that potentially we’re going to race and the boost levels that are required to set those aero levels at each of the circuits,” he said. “As we’re aware, we didn’t run at a one-and-a-half-mile oval and that’s just a variance of the test program and track availability. We’ll go back with the manufacturers as they go there post-Vegas for example. We have the basis to go forward and start filling in the holes we have.
Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President for Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, and GM Racing Director Mark Kent joined principals of the three aligned teams in providing an update about the engine program at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“It’s exciting because racing has been part of our heritage and history,” said Campbell, who was flanked by Team Penske, Andretti Autosport and Panther Racing representatives. “In our recent open-wheel racing history we have had a lot of success. We have looked at the engine rules laid out by INDYCAR and they align well with our production side, including biofuel and turbo-charged engines.
“What we learn on the engine development side in racing will help make our production engines better.”
Chevrolet and Honda on-track development/testing commenced last week at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and will continue next week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Chevy, and Scott Dixon, Honda, driving) and through mid-December when IZOD IndyCar Series teams receive their first new chassis from Dallara Automobili. Teams will begin testing after the first of the year, and the 2012 season opener is March 25 at St. Petersburg, Fla.
INDYCAR validation of the next-generation car was completed two weeks ago at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The new engine will be a 2.2-liter, turbocharged, direct-injection V-6 fueled by E85. INDYCAR will be able to adjust the boost level to provide appropriate horsepower to the wide variety of racetracks on which the IZOD IndyCar Series races. Chevy’s engine is a twin-turbo supplied by BorgWarner.
“Chevrolet and its technical partners have met all of the development targets for the new powerplant,” Kent said. "In our last media briefing before the Indianapolis 500, I said that the new Chevy IndyCar V-6 would be up and running in June. I'm pleased to report that the engine fired up for the first time on June 16, and dyno testing began immediately.
“Since then we have focused on power development and durability testing to achieve the series' goal of 2,000 miles between rebuilds.”
GM Racing is using a cooperative team strategy to accelerate development of the engine.
"The test team is made up of individuals from each of our key partner teams, and we are operating as Team Chevy," Kent said.
It also is creating the infrastructure to support its IndyCar effort.
"Many of the components of the Chevy IndyCar V-6 require long lead times to manufacture, and these parts are now in production," Kent said. "Our technical partner, Ilmor Engineering in Plymouth, Mich., has plans in place to distribute and maintain Chevrolet engines for our IndyCar teams."
Power, who will contend for the IZOD IndyCar Series World Championship Trophy on Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the season finale, said the power behind the new chassis was impressive during the two-day Mid-Ohio session.
“It was awesome driving out of pit lane for the first time and feeling the turbo engine,” Power said. “The test went flawlessly, which shows you what kind of job Chevrolet and (partner) Ilmor Engineering have done. We will continually ramp it up and work on making the engine better.
“It will be a great year in 2012 having turbo engines back in the series.”
Las Vegas Oval Test
Indy Oval Test
Will Power made his IndyCar test return in the new Dallara DW12 chassis. He completed more than 100 laps in a private test at Barber Motorsports Park. Power was able to get an early gauge of the new Dallara chassis and said the test made him positive about the car and the forthcoming season.
"It [the new chassis] is definitely faster," he said. "Around this track it's really hooked up. It's got incredible grip.
It has better grip because it makes better use of ground effects due to the under floor's tunnels and greater area for the negative pressure to act upon.
Penske Racing Shocks is excited to announce that the all new 2012 Indy Car will be on display in their booth at the upcoming SEMA Show held at the Las Vegas Convention Center from November 1-4, 2011.
A world leader in suspension technology, Penske Racing Shocks has been working side by side with Indy Car and Dallara on the development of the new chassis design for 2012, and has recently released a new shock line engineered specifically for the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Penske Racing Shocks and Indy Car couldn’t think of a better way to show off this awesome vehicle up-close for all of its fans to see than to display it at the SEMA Show, the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world.
Penske Racing Shocks Director of Competition, Aaron Lambert, added, “Penske Racing Shocks is very excited to have the opportunity to display the 2012 Indy Car. Over the past 6 months we have worked alongside Indy Car and Dallara on the suspension components and have been pleased with the results. The Indy Car market has always been and will continue to be a key market for Penske Racing Shocks and is a test bed for technology that ultimately finds its way to Grassroots racers.”
Penkse first helped to develop J-Dampers or Cambridge inerters with McLaren F1 in 2003-2004 and has since licensed the technology from Cambridge to bring it to other forms of racing.
In recent years Penske has become the preferred shock for the majority of the Indy Car paddock. The new damper has been designed specifically with the new 2012 Indy Car in-mind. All of the technologies incorporated in this new damper have been recently raced in F1 according to its makers. It utilises the current 45mm bore size, so current Penske 45mm pistons and builds will carry over. The design will allow conversion from a mono-tube (8780-M), to thru rod (8780-T), to hybrid inerter (8780-H), without a complete new shock needed for each because the core components of the shock are interchangeable.
The damper can also be outfitted with Penskes 3000 Series Active System which expedites rig and track development. The 3000 system allows teams to electronically develop curves, save them to a data base, and easily upload them with the push of a few keys.
I'm waiting to see articles on the 3 new engines. Too bad the rules will not the turbo(s) to be mounted in the valley of the engine with reverse intake and exhaust valves like in the LMP1 LeMans and ALMS cars.
Xtrac has been selected as the sole gearbox supplier to Dallara for the 2012 Indycar. For the new car the English firm has developed a new transmission dubbed the 1011. Engineer Adrew Heard reveal more about the new cars gearbox.
We are adding more tuneability, if there is such a word. Expect there to be a few more options that will allow the engineers to tune the transmission more with more options in set up. We are also incorporating into the design many of the features that have been added onto the design of the current gearbox since it was first introduced. Key things that have happened since 2003 is that a differential was added for road course racing and then a paddle shift system was added. Reverse was the most recent thing to be added. All these features have been designed in since the initiation of the project, which allows for nicer packaging with less add-ons.
We have designed it for slightly higher torque capacity. We are trying to keep the weight down but maintain the safety record as well in terms of such as tethers and lights on it. We have had a good track record there and we do not want to be moving backwards.
It is still a six speed plus reverse and the differential will be adjustable.
The main Megaline GCU is a carry over from the current car but there will be firmware/software updates. It will be communicating with a new ECU. The new cars will have drive by wire throttle, as opposed to a pneumatic blipper so the GCU needs to communicate differently. The valve block is similar in operation but we only need two valves instead of three because there is no throttle blipper. We are integrating the actuator into the casings rather than being a bolt on part.
Paddle shifters undoubtedly bring cost savings to the teams in terms of gearbox inventory. Taking the driver away from direct control of the gearshift is good. However good the drivers are, errors still used to be made and you got damage to the transmission. We have seen over revs of the engine go to zero. I understand that avoiding one over rev rebuild pays for the paddle shift system.
Chevy drivers from Andretti Autosport, KV Racing Technology, Panther Racing and Team Penske had the opportunity to get behind the wheel during the development program that began in early October at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Lotus is scheduled to join on-track testing Jan. 13. HVM Racing is expected to take delivery of the Lotus chassis before Christmas as the host team for the engine program, according to team manager Vince Kremer.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing, A.J. Foyt Racing, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing and Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing are aligned with Honda.
The three days of on-track experience before the holiday break was encouraging, according to Honda Performance Development technical director Roger Griffiths.
"It was our first opportunity to use the new McLaren electronics package we will all run in 2012, so a lot of very basic calibration runs and work with the basic engine and gearbox controls had to be completed," he said.
"It's all about learning and systematically exploring the capabilities of the new software and the way it controls the engine. "It was a very encouraging start, but we know there still is much work to be done and we expect development to continue from now until the start of the season.
"Takuma Sato made his first runs in the car, and they were his first laps in a turbocharged race car. He exceeded all of our expectations, both his performance behind the wheel and technical feedback were excellent."
Dallara officials said the company will absorb the costs associated with producing new suspension components for the DW12 in an effort to optimize the weight distribution of the new car, especially for superspeedways.
"As requested by INDYCAR, Dallara will design an alternative set of suspensions to move back 2 inches the front wheels and 1 inch the rear wheels,” head of research and development Andrea Toso said.
“Both front and both rear suspensions will be available for the teams from the catalog and can be utilized in any combination front to rear at all the events. Teams will take delivery of their cars with the current set of suspensions and, should they decide to start the season with the alternative set, they can get free of charge replacement based on the return of the current set."
Also, wind tunnel testing will be conducted in early January -- comparing data from the 2011 Indianapolis 500 car of Target Chip Ganassi Racing and the new car – in an effort to resolve superspeedway aerodynamic drag issues exhibited in the chassis validation and engine manufacturer development.
Fifteen teams picked up their first chassis Dec. 15 at the new Dallara facility on Main Street in Speedway, Ind. The cost of the car (minus engine, wheels, driver’s seat and steering wheel and battery) is $385,800. Dallara is expected to produce 60 chassis before the start of the season March 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The next 15 will be ready for pick-up Jan. 15.
The universal chassis were shipped from Dallara Automobili's facility in Parma, Italy, to its temporary building in Speedway, Ind. -- across the street from its new technology center. Entrants not based in Indiana -- A.J. Foyt Racing, Team Penske, Michael Shank Racing and Rahal Letterman Lanigan -- will take delivery in the morning. Others will follow in the afternoon.
Dragon Racing is moving from Indianapolis to Marina del Rey, Calif.
Penske said the two-car team -- drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Katherine Legge with backing from Lotus -- is moving into a custom-built 12,000-square-foot glass building that will showcase the IndyCar effort.
"It will be much easier to facilitate sponsorship and get people to come see your shop," Penske said. "Once they see this thing it's going to be pretty good."
Penske said the reorganized team is getting help from three West Coast teams: Pacific Coast Motorsports, Dan Gurney's All-American Racers and PPI Motorsports. Some aspects of the team will remain in Indianapolis, where the bulk of the sport operates.
Team sponsorships are still to be announced, but Microsoft and McAfee will be involved. Legge has ties to TrueCar.
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