2012 IndyCars Make First Public Appearance

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2012 IndyCars Make First Public Appearance

Postby mlittle » Thu May 12, 2011 2:04 pm

Speed Channel: Indycar--2012 Presentation Cars Unveiled


Tuesday, IMS and IndyCar officials released full-scale presentations of what the next-generation Indycars' will look like for the next couple of years, according to Speed's Marshall Pruett.............

----It's hardly a stunner, but it's not exactly ugly. It looks a lot like what fans expected, but it also looks a bit too much like the current Dallara--at least from the cockpit forward. And it has a little bit of current F1 design language added in for good measure.

Simply put, the 2012 car looks like a number of past and present open-wheel cars, but it also carries enough original styling cues to distance itself from the current car while providing a fresh take on Indy car architecture.

It might be a mutt, but--and this is a major league 'but'--the car unveiled by the IZOD IndyCar Series today on the Versus' new IndyCar Open Wheel Weekly show is also partly for show. Just how much of the presentation cars are display-only is unknown, but the slender, rounded cockpit profile is an accurate representation of what teams will have to work with next season.

"The front of the car won’t change," said Tony Cotman, project manager for the 2012 car. "The higher nose, the sculpted sidepods. That won’t change."

From the roll hoop rearwards, many of the shapes seen on the road course and speedway variants of the presentations cars could change, based on track testing.

Of the many complaints about the current Dallara's looks, the low profile of the tub has drawn the ire of fans. That design, predicated by moving the car's shock from the top of the chassis to the bottom--a pullrod arrangement--provided aerodynamic gains and an improved center of gravity to combat the rival chassis which was then offered by Panoz/GForce.

With the adoption of a spec chassis for the new 2012 regulations, Cotman and Dallara moved the shocks back to the top of the chassis--the more conventional pushrod style of suspension--but have maintained elements of the previous Dallara's low nose.

Cotman estimates 70 percent of what's seen from the cockpit forward will make it the final version of the 2012 Dallara, while the appearance of most of the side and rear bodywork, provided multiple aero kits are allowed in 2012, could look different.

While the two cars shown today are a close approximation of what open-wheel fans will see in competition next year, the man in charge of INDYCAR offered another reminder of how the cars should be perceived.

"It's a 'presentation car,' IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard told SPEED.com. "It's an update--a status report--on where we're at with the car. This isn't the final version, but it gives fans a look at the direction we're headed.

"Tony Cotman and his team have done a heck of a job to put these cars together for us to show at Indy, but now we have more work to do to get the finished product ready."

The rear of the presentation cars, similar to what's seen on an ALMS prototype, show the new philosophy in preventing wheels from interlocking, and in rear crash absorption.

A second rear wing element as seen on the oval car, placed well below the main element, appears to be designed to help extract air from the diffuser, but the blunt profile at the rear of the element suggests it could be a 'show' item, rather than the final wing destined for production.

Bodywork also protects the front of the rear wheels, and the floor, as shown in the original concept drawings from July 2010, extends outwards to act as a barrier to minimize interlocking of the front wheels.

The difference between more conventional Indy car bodywork on the road course car, with full sidepods, and the triangular, DeltaWing-ish oval aero kit was done on purpose by Cotman to illustrate the range of design options aero kit manufacturers have.

It's worth noting, though, that while the road course and oval kits look nothing alike, the differences would be more subtle when comparing two rod course kits, for example, from different manufacturers.

One area of the 2012 car that has limited appeal--at least for this writer--is the 1997-2011-era roll hoop.

Exactly where the 2.2-liter, turbocharged 2012 engines will draw air from is unknown, but it appears that Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus will receive air fed from above the driver's head.

The presentation cars maintain the appearance of the soon-to-be-old-style naturally-aspirated IRL cars which feed air to the engine through an overhead scoop.

Turbocharged Indy cars, at least from a traditional standpoint, tend to have open roll hoops, allowing air to freely pass through on the way to the rear wing.

With a field of spec cars, using solid or open roll hoops is nothing more than an aesthetic consideration, but it appears Cotman's team has chosen to retain a touch of 'IRL' with the 2012 car, based on how the engine cover is tied into the top of the roll hoop.

Venting can be seen at the base of the rear of the engine cover--as found on some F1 cars--but in this case, it could be used to bleed off excess intake air and to provide an additional escape for heat from the engine bay to pass.

Evaluating the rest of the bodywork for the presentations cars would be hard as many items are will change for the final kits, and some items--like the curled rear wing end plates on the road course car--are for entertainment purposes only.

Turning vanes--seen ahead of the sidepods on the road course car--would be a likely inclusion for 2012. Dual front elements on the road course car--yet another F1-inspired item--also makes sense for production.

The prevention of wheels from becoming interlocked is only expected to be seen in oval bodywork, which the oval presentation car shows with the large ramps in front of the rear wheels. the road course car--at least in presentation trim--not only lacks the anti-interlocking pieces, but also does way with the traditional wheel ramps that help to divert air around the big, drag-producing rear tires.

From an aerodynamic efficiency standpoint, some form of wheel ramps--like those seen on the current Dallara--would be a good call for the 2012 car in road course configuration.

Moving the mirrors back to the chassis and off of the sidepods makes sense, but the choice of molding them onto the tub is odd--especially if one needs to be replaced. I would expect that to change for the sake of serviceability.

The road course car features a rear wing with what looks like a half-dozen elements, and also bears a slight resemblance to the CDG rear wing that F1 considered implementing.

There are a number of aspects to the car, including proper, old-school venturi tunnels, that should improve the quality of racing. By moving a significant percentage of downforce creation to the floor, Dallara--and other aero kit designers--can utilize smaller wings on the ovals, while on the road courses, teams should have the option to make plenty of downforce without going to extremes.

The presentation cars offer a lot of promise while making a fairly clean break from the current IndyCar formula that dates back to 1997. Some portions of the 2012 car could use a slight makeover, but in general, Cotman's group has delivered a new chassis with a solid foundation for teams and manufacturers to work with.
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Postby mlittle » Thu May 12, 2011 2:07 pm

Photos From Tuesday's Presentation.........

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The Sci-Fi Station Come by and visit when you get the chance. :)
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