In a sport based on speed, no one likes to wait. For Verizon IndyCar Series fans thirsting to see new designs, the need for patience had once gotten so far out of control that it took nine years to change chassis.
Today, however, marks a departure: just three seasons into the Dallara DW12’s run, the next generation IndyCar has been unveiled, giving a first peak into the immediate future of the sport.
Revealed was the 2015 challenger for Chevrolet teams, dressed up in its high-downforce package that will be used on road and street circuits, as well as on short ovals like Iowa and Milwaukee. Another edition of the Chevrolet (for speedways), along with two Honda styles, are to be seen at a later date. The old bodywork will be eligible, too, though no team has committed to using it.
Boldly announcing the car during NASCAR’s Speedweeks, IndyCar has put itself back in the motorsports news cycle after a winter that ranged from silent to disastrous. Boldly touting winglets and aggressive aesthetics, the new car puts IndyCar back as a series of enviable, exciting machinery.
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With both engine suppliers providing aero kits, the Chevrolet and Honda rivalry should intensify in 2015. Honda has two wins to Chevrolet’s one in the last three Indianapolis 500s, while Chevrolet reversed that score on Honda in the season championships category. Now, they’ll look to outfox each other not only on power units, but also on aerodynamics.
That kind of differentiation isn’t new to IndyCar, but may only be remembered by traditionalists. The real development wars ceased as CART, an IndyCar predecessor now part of its record book, declined. Dallara and Panoz raced in a dually-sourced IndyCar in the mid-2000s, with individual teams allowed some small freedoms in innovation.
After three years of close racing with the DW12 — eight winners in 2012, 10 in 2013, and 11 in 2014 — it remains to be seen if IndyCar’s new era will be as competitive. With differentiation comes advantage, and from there, dominance may follow. Even among teams with the same equipment, worries about how well the cars will race also exist; Formula One banned winglets like those on the Chevrolet for the air disturbances they caused to trailing cars, making it hard to follow closely or plan an overtake.
Despite those questions, aero kits mark an important step for IndyCar: balancing costs for participants with the desires of spectators, many of whom are enthusiastic about cars and the pursuit of performance.
Speeds, particularly on road and street courses, are expected to increase, adding to both the challenge and spectacle of IndyCar racing. With higher downforce, physical fitness should be critical for driver success. Concerns about the on-track product may be tempered by an increased willingness to take risks that will come from a better union between driver and her or his well-handling car.
The new vehicles first race on March 29 in St. Petersburg before embarking on a 16-race season.
There, the green flag will wave on a new era, one started today by a faster reveal for a faster car. Waiting for evolution now an artifact of IndyCar’s past, race fans are left to anticipate just one thing: racing these new cars.
In the sometimes frustrating world of IndyCar, that’s a welcome shift.