December 14, Indianapolis – The IZOD IndyCar Series unveiled new chassis and engine packages for the 2011 series. The long awaited announcement was met with fanfare and hoopla at a 2 hour press conference at the IICS headquarters. The announcement puts to rest months of rampant speculation and wild rumors concerning the specifics of the new spec for the league that features the Indianapolis 500 as its signature event. The new car and engine specs replace the existing formula that had existed since the 1936 season.
The new chassis is comprised of a large tub or block of organically produced, carbon containing fibre from near a forested region of Brazil. Teams will be able to use this block as the starting point for car development. Participants will be able to sculpt a vehicle to exact specifications required at any one of the diverse circuits the series races on. The hard rubber compound Firestone Firehawk tires will be independently attached and suspended from the tub via four polished suspension pieces that penetrate the side of the chassis tub.
President of Competition for the IICS Brian Barnhart hailed the new chassis spec as a turning point for the series. “This new chassis package delivers on everything that our constituencies were looking for in a new car design. Spectators were looking for creativity, innovation and variety in car design, while at the same time keeping costs low was important for all teams and participants. We feel that this new spec allows for just that. Within a few regulations concerning dimensions, teams will have a completely free hand in creating the car that they feel will bring them the best opportunity for success. We believe spectators will derive a great amount of pleasure in seeing the variety of designs that will be on the track from race to race.”
Barnhart also mentioned other benefits to the new spec. “We believe we have figured out a way to bring real affordability to the highest form of motor sport. This new car will allow all teams the opportunity to compete regardless of budget. We also are hopeful that the spec will attract new teams and participants to the series.”
In addition to the new cars, new engine specs and manufacturers were announced. The new engine specs allow for single cylinder engines that utilize state of the art dry cell powder based propellant propulsion. Representatives from Honda, Audi, Mazda and Toyota were all on hand to announce their participation in creating engines for the series. Toyota representative Yukio Wasamata was quoted as saying”私達は今回悪い状態をそう吸わない” His accompanying translator related that “We really like the affordability of the current engine spec program and that the level of technology allowed Toyota a real opportunity for success”
Barnhart commented on the new engine specs saying “I think our drivers will be really excited with the engines next year. We think that they will be driving cars that are real rocket ships compared to what other prominent series race on a given weekend.”
When asked how he expects the new chassis and engine combinations to translate to on track performance and safety, Barnhart was quoted as saying. “I think the cars seem pretty well put together. Since they have fewer parts, there seems to be fewer things to break and go wrong.” He added, “During our crash testing program we discovered a tendency for the chassis to catch fire near the end of a run. We experimented a bit and discovered that wrapping the front end of the engine with a thin layer of flexible aluminum material cut down on that tremendously.”
When asked how he expected the competition to play out given the huge window for innovation and customization, Barnhart conceded “That is a real concern for us as a league. Our fans really want to see innovation brought back to the league, but on the other hand they have grown accustomed to close, wheel to wheel photo finishes. Our response to this seeming dichotomy is to create the Fairness and Competitive Equality committee. Each year the committee will review the relative performance of the teams and manufacturers from the previous season and will aim to pair teams and manufacturers in such a way as to encourage competitive balance.” When asked if there was any precedence for such a committee, Barnhart replied. “It worked pretty well in 2004 and 2005.”
When asked how he felt about the new car and engine combination, Tony Cottman who served on the development team was quoted as saying “It was a real cluster…um...challenge trying to balance the demands of all constituents to the process. In trying to heed the importance of all opinions and while … Ah hell, it was the best we could do.”
The process to create a new car for the IICS series was a 15 year process that involved input from many diverse sources, many of which are not typically employed in the creation and engineering of professional racing cars. Les McTaggert, lead development engineer on the team was quoted as saying “The involvement of the art students was particularly helpful. The art students from Mrs Barnharts third grade class did a wonderful job of creating images that provided our bloggers opportunity for pointless speculation while at the same time offered our teams the opportunity to by inspired by some really creative color and paint schemes.”
At the press conference, Terry Angstadt, the President of the Commercial division at the Indy Racing League was quoted as saying “We are really happy with the expanded coverage we are receiving at Versus. I think these new cars will keep people watching the entire 18 hours of air time each race currently receives. This engaged involvement of our viewers on Versus will insure that our audience will have a numerous opportunities to see our sponsors’ ads during a broadcast creating a synergistic burn in effect for the messages these ads convey.”