IndyCar: A Shape Only A Fan Could Love?

When the DW12 was announced as Indycar’s new chassis the overwhelming fan reaction was, “God that’s ugly.” While that drumbeat has subsided a bit there is an underlying current that maybe the car’s shape is unfortunate. The most recent critique came from Bruton Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc.

See, it totally looks better in person. Photo by Matt Schafer 

You ever pay attention to when they announce those races? The announcer doesn’t know who it is,” he said. “He’ll say, ‘The red car is coming out of the fourth turn.’ I’d like to know who’s in it: Tom, Dick or Harry? But they don’t know, they can’t read the number. The numbers are much, much too small.”

He has a point, and his opinion matters because SMI owns Somona Raceway — a solid stop for the ICS — and a number of other tracks Indycar fans would like to race at. His points about numbers is somewhat valid because NASCAR has made an effort to tie the driver to his his/her number, but it’s never been a big thing in Indycar.

His larger point, that the cars need to have more “Billboard appeal” makes more sense. The DW12 did away with the sidepod design that Indycar had featured, and some teams and sponsors have done a better job of using the bulbous shape to their advantage than others. Some good examples are Marco Andretti’s RC car and Sebastien Bourdais’ black and gold Lotus car. Other teams, like HVM, just missed the mark last year, and while the Go-Daddy green stands out on James Hinchcliffe’s car stands out on the track the logo isn’t the easiest to read.

My feeling is the car looks better in person. The picture above is from Barber, it’s the closest I could get, but sadly the wing wasn’t on it.

With former CEO Randy Bernard’s departure, the fight about the ICONIC Committee, and the row about the price of parts I don’t think the DW12 will last all that long. Given the costs involved in buying a new chassis it will probably take three or four years, but I would expect to see a change within the next five years.

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