Ben Bowlby's New Safer Delta Wing Concept Beats IndyCar Dallara
The Delta Wing concept car, designed by Englishman Ben Bowlby for a consortium of team owners and investors, including Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi, is supposed to address all the shortcomings of the existing, outdated Dallara, while improving safety and efficiency. A possible 2012 car was revealed today at the Chicago auto show.
Three other chassis constructors, Swift, Lola, and Dallara, have offered proposals for the next-generation IndyCar chassis for the 2012 IndyCar Series season. All chassis constructors aim to meet the design criteria laid out by IndyCar management.
Criteria for New Concept Car
The new chassis must meet existing safety standards while exploring new technology to improve safety in all aspects of the car, must continue to produce exciting racing while not affecting other cars on track (i.e. less sensitive to the turbulence) and must have a price point that lowers cost for the teams.
It should also be built in the U.S., preferably at an Indiana-based facility and use a lighter chassis with less mass that produces the same aerodynamic effect in an efficient way.The new chassis should use technology relevant to the future of the consumer auto industry.
Finally, the car should have more space for sponsor logos, and be easily identifiable and environmentally friendly. The Delta Wing is the only full-scale mock-up produced by any of the four competing companies.
Revolutionize IndyCar Racing?
With enough ingenuity in the design (and ground effects), one can eliminate team engineers at the track - that would be a competitive loss for a team sport.
Today marks a fundamental shift in how race fans and the general public will view all racing cars in the future; this is a game changer" DeltaWing CEO Dan Partel said on the IndyCar Web site. "This radical prototype takes open-wheel racing to a new level from both an engineering standpoint and the overall spectator experience.
Delta Wing Design
The new chassis, unveiled for the first time at the Chicago Auto Show, is a radical departure from previous open-wheel designs. The car features a rocket-like fuselage, a narrow front track, a very wide rear end, and no wings, front or rear.
The wheels are almost entirely enclosed, which drastically reduces drag and also increases safety. Open wheel cars in traffic sometimes launch in the air after their tires collide, because the tires spin with so much force.
The tires on the Delta Wing are only half as wide as on the current car, which will also reduce drag, but will also affect traction. The car supposedly generates all the downforce it needs through underbody ground effects, and is designed to be able to follow closely in traffic, a problem with the old chassis which prevented close racing.
IndyCar Drivers Rate the Delta Wing
IndyCar drivers, including current champion Dario Franchitti, former champion Scott Dixon, and rising star Graham Rahal were on hand to see the new concept car. Dixon gave the car high marks, while Franchitti said he was “ready to drive one,” according to IndyStar.com.
Rahal, quoted on the IndyCar site, said, "The design is revolutionary. We have never seen an open-wheel racing car that looks like this. Is it going to be newsworthy? Yes. Is it going to catch eyeballs? Yes. Plus, there's good space for sponsors on it. From a driver's point of view, from all the simulations I've heard about, the performance of the car is not going to be a concern at all.
DeltaWing chief technology officer Ben Bowlby, chief engineer for Chip Ganassi Racing and a former Lola chief designer, said the car’s reduced aerodynamic drag and lighter weight would offer high performance on the racetrack with only half the engine power of its recent predecessors, and thus increased fuel efficiency. Bowlby said he expects to "sell a complete car, including engine, for approximately $600,000."
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