Dallara’s Concept Tease

By now, most of you have seen the concept photos of the 2012 Dallara for potential use in the Izod IndyCar Series. For those that have not, they are posted below. Click on them for a better view.

The Dallara is supposed to be the more evolutionary design. If this is the conservative approach to the next generation IndyCar, I’m now more curious than ever to see the Delta Wing car that is scheduled to be unveiled next Wednesday. It must really be out there.

Slide1 Given these three concepts, I have to say I like concept one the best. It is a very sleek looking car and is much better looking than the current Dallara. My only complaint about it is the re-emergence of the dorsal fin over the rear cowling.

The dorsal fin was first seen in 1994, when Roger Penske introduced them on his three Marlboro cars for the second race of the season at Phoenix. After Emerson Fittipaldi and Al Unser, Jr. gave The Captain a respective one-two finish; two races later at Indianapolis – probably half the field was sporting dorsal fins of varying degrees. Some were small and discreet, such as Robby Gordon’s Valvoline car; while others like Bobby Rahal’s Miller Genuine Draft car looked like a sail. That car did not qualify however, as he abandoned his Lola-Honda for a Penske Chevy, lest he fail to qualify for the second year in a row.

The dorsal fins showed up on the IRL cars in 1998. They looked ridiculous behind the air box. They served as a place to place the car numbers. They mercifully disappeared when the next generation Dallara and G-Force chassis were introduced in 2000. It was always debated if the dorsal fin served any real function beyond being additional real estate for sponsor decals. I think if they were truly effective they would be on every car today. Of course, if you really want to get technical – you can trace the dorsal fin much further back than 1994. George Salih’s Belond Exhaust Special, which won the 1957 and 1958 Indianapolis 500’s had a dorsal fin directly behind the driver. It looked much more sleek on that car than the rear-engine cars of the nineties.

Concept 2 is a little more compelling. It’s still better lookingSlide2 than the current Dallara, but it has just enough funky elements to make it interesting. To me, something about it reminds me of the Champ Car DP-01 – although Champ Car loyalists will probably strongly disagree. I don’t give it much hope in its current configuration, however. There isn’t much room or visibility on the sidepods for the all-important sponsor’s name.

The third design is where we cross into the bizarro-world. It is  a conglomerate of several cars over the years. It has the front-Slide3 end of AJ Foyt’s 1977 Coyote, the back-end of Little Al’s 1983 Eagle and the side-pod treatment of a 1998 F1 Ferrari; with the only complimentary feature of those three being the Ferrari. For an old goat like myself, that one is just a little over the top. On last night’s show, Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee both said that they thought a casual fan would look at that and say it was an IndyCar. I disagree. At first glance, it resembles an ALMS car more than anything to me – but that is just my opinion. Opinions of these three cars have been flying with full-force among the blogs since these pictures first hit.

Of course, this is just a tease for the much more anticipated unveiling of the Delta Wing next week. Dallara was wise to release these pictures beforehand. Had they waited until after we had seen what many are calling “radical”, it would have been rather anti-climactic to see something that will probably look very tame compared to the Delta Wing.

So what are my thoughts? I like concepts one & two; concept three – not so much. Removing the dorsal fin from the first one would make for a very graceful and slick looking IndyCar. I am not opposed to the second one either. Quite honestly, I would like to see some sort of hybrid come from morphing those two designs together. The sidepod inlets are about the only feature from the third design that I would like to see incorporated into their final design.

So here we have three concepts from Dallara. It’s my understanding that we’ll only see one Delta Wing concept in Chicago, but maybe I’m wrong. I know that this has certainly piqued my interest in the Delta Wing even more. It is now clear that we will see something very different looking on the track in 2012. This is a good thing. Contrary to popular belief, I am not opposed to change. I think cars should evolve and look different over time. Remember…I was at Indy in the sixties. I’m not sure the cars ever changed as much from the beginning of a decade to the end of one, as they did in the sixties.

As I’ve said before, my only problem is the mandating to all teams that they will be forced to run whatever chassis is ultimately chosen. Curt Cavin said last night that he sees no reason to run more than one exclusive chassis. I like and admire Curt very much, but again I must disagree. Variety and innovation is what made the Indy 500 and open-wheel racing great. Most people I talk to and hear from say that spec racing bores them to death. Other than the engines, NASCAR is a spec series now and their ratings are tumbling. If they are really looking to spice up the series, have more than one chassis. If they look so much different, that will be apparent even to the coveted new fans.

But as for today, I’ll study these concept drawings a little more closely and eagerly await the unveiling of the Delta Wing on Wednesday. Then all of the speculation over what it looks like can stop. Then the real debate over which one to choose will start and probably carry right up to the Indy 500. It should be a lot of fun.

George Phillips

20 Responses to “Dallara’s Concept Tease”

  1. George,
    I agree, it was a smart move for Dallara to get their designs out in front of the DeltaWing unveiling. I thought I had read in Barnhart’s comments that Dallara was working on both an Evolutionary & a Revolutionary design, but I could be mistaken. If so, 1&2 are certainly evolutionary, and 3 is their revolutionary one.

    Aside from the dorsal fin, #1 really reminds me of the look of the 2000-2001 era Riley-Scott chassis. Maybe it’s the rounded sidepods, and rear wheel ramps. #2 is definitely DP-01 ish. As for #3, well, the less said the better.

    I was also surprised to read in yesterday’s press release that Swift and Lola are also submitting concepts. If so, this will be a lot of fun for all of us over the next 3 months, debating the merits of as many as 5 different concepts.

  2. I have a feeling the Delta Wing could end up looking awfully similar to No. 2.

    And in regards to Dallar’s design No. 2, I’m not sure ads would go on the smaller sidepods as much as they would go directly above it.

    Overall, No. 1 strikes me as being an “Indycar” more than the others.

    Actually, instead of just one chassis maufacturer, I’d prefer to see multiple manufacturers, but I think Dallara is holding onto a trump card that they will drop in order to land the bid.

  3. These illustrations look like Hot Wheels cars. The front wing end plates on 1 and 2, although seeming thick, seem able to trash rear tires of followed cars. And imagine the front tire fairings of #3 snapping off in altercations.

  4. I’m very pleased with these concepts and I’m ready to see them moving on a track. I say pick the fastest one. I was suprised to hear that Swift and Lola were submitting designs also. That’s great. Can’t wait to see the spaceship next week…

  5. I like the maroon one. And that’s not NOT because of the gold wheels either.

  6. It seems like most folks like the maroon one so far. I think that that’s probably because it most closely resembles what people are used to, and seems kind of like a throwback to ’95 to ’98 or so CART cars. For the same reason, I probably like that one the best, but I could easily get used to #2 or #3.

    Oh, and the dorsal fin isn’t dead in F1, George. Most of the 2010 cars have one, as did the Red Bulls and Renaults last year, and a couple of the cars (McLaren, especially) have a fin that extends all the way to the rear wing. The stubby ones that the IRL cars used were mainly cosmetic, and the ones that CART cars had were probably not allowed to extend as far as would have been most effective. Any way you slice it, I don’t really mind them.

    • I agree with speedgeek: if the dorsal fin was so ineffective, why would EVERY F1 team halve one in varying degrees for 2010? Maybe it’s just better for road courses then ovals, which would explain it’s falling out of favor at Indy, but still, it must help somehow. And an extra large area for a car # or a sponsor CANNOT hurt!!!

      • The dorsal wing in F1 works in conjunction with the current rear wing regs as far as I’m aware. A couple of teams also tried it in ’07 and/or ’08 and it wasn’t quite as successful, but the F1 designers seem a lot more keen on it now.

  7. Mike Silver Says:

    I like the yellow one best, with maroobn a close second. Your comments about #3 resembling an ALMS car was the first thought I had when i saw it. it looks like the tops of the fenders were shaved off.

  8. George,

    Realistically, I think Car #1 will be Dallara’s entry. It looks like it’s set up for the possibility of turbocharged engines being in league specifications for 2012. It also fits in with the “evolutionary, not revolutionary” approach, as it has visual design cues from Dallara’s current chassis.

    I see car #2 being more “road/street course” friendly. However, with those chunky early 1970’s style “Park Bench” wings, I can’t see it pulling 220+ at Indianapolis. The rear bodywork of car #2 in front of the rear wing looks like it would send the airflow flying off six ways to Sunday before it ever got to the rear wing.

    Car #3, well, it looks like someone said to the designers “OK, gimme’ somethin’ RADICAL!” The design cues seem to be at odds with each other, although BACK OFF dissing the 1980 – 84 Eagles, pal! (The reason those era Eagles “Had Back”, as the kids say, was due to Boundary Layer Adhesion Technology [BLAT] that Gurney and his designers claimed removed the need for full length ground effect tunnels. Perhaps we’re going back to flat bottomed cars for 2012, and Dallara found that everything old is new again.)

    • It’s occurred to me, too, that the Delta Wing might be doing something in the BLAT arena to generate downforce. If they’re shaving the wings off, the cars have to generate downforce some way, and that’d be one way to do it…

  9. tim nothhelfer Says:

    Lets run something different……
    If three is more function over form, I say let it roll.

  10. I can’t say any of these excite me. 1 doesn’t look good at all to me. 2 is nice, and if Dallara has to be the chasis, then I guess that will work. 3, that one sucks. It’s not that revolutinary, unless they want revolutionly ugly. And it doesn’t look like an ALMS P1 car, that would be an improvement. It looks like a Grand Am car mixed with a Dallara, ie a piece of sh…

  11. James Boulton Says:

    I do not like any of the three. All three designs will produce enough turbulence that drafting and overtaking on an oval will be difficult. The designs will not solve the on track racing issues brought about by winged cars as seen in recent years in both IRL and F1

  12. Flintstone Flyer Says:

    Admittedly, design number 3 is a bit out there. But so were roadsters vs. uprights, or rear engine vs. roadsters. Evolution is often revolutionary. And I have to say I like certain characteristics of number 3 – especially the protected rear wheels. This would certainly help keep these critters on the ground and upright. However, the design seems to lack a lot of the energy-absorbing side pod structure that we currently have and that has proven so important in crashes. What I’s really like to see is a combination of 1 and 3.

  13. Doesn’t #3 look a bit similar to what Bruce Ashmore advocated for what the new car should look like? I remember reading a bit about it on Gordon Kirby’s blog.

  14. Adding my two cents, I like all three designs, although it is fair to point out that I am not a mechanical engineer-just a plebian fan-and ultimately it is IndyCar management’s decision based on the criteria they have supplied to decide what is the best chassis design, and I trust that they will do so.

    In regard to multiple chassis, this was asked of Curt Cavin in his “Ask the Expert” column in the Indianapolis Star and at IndyStar.com-I apologize for not knowing how to do links, but you can go to the site as I do daily and see the previous Q and A sessions. Cavin was asked about multiple chassis makers and he says that its his understanding that the constructors are the ones who want to supply the entire field, as they don’t feel they can make enough money supplying 1/2 or 1/3 of the field.

  15. Hi George,
    I commented about this on Pressdog’s site the other day, so this feels a little vopying and pasting…

    The thing is unless we have all suddenly become experts on the designs of these cars and can decipher the aerodynamic and mechanical grip numbers, then surely what it looks like is quite irrelevant.
    Pretty cars do not always make for good racing and for all we know the ugly third design could be the best racer of the lot; which brings me to my main worry.

    There seems to be a few in the racing community that appear to be more concerned about where sponsors are placed as opposed to how the cars race and ultimately that is completely the wrong way to approach any potential chassis design.
    If they bring out a car that cannot race well and produces boring events, then regardless of how much space a car has, the sponsorship will be hard to sell, because fewer people may end up watching.

    However, if a chassis is chosen that allows exiting and competitive racing where drivers can get close without losing the front end in an aerodynamic wake, then people may be more aroused about the product.
    More eyeballs may make marketing the series and obtaining sponsorship a little easier regardless of how cars look.

  16. After reading http://ow.ly/16vtKw

    It looks like the meeting of the minds has already happened-
    even before the auto show?

    A concept car to production would take 2 years at least, it looks like Indy cars are either going to be stuck with Dallara (Safety first) or the Delta Wing guys may have a new series started.

    I like the older racing cars better and the older American business values.

  17. Thank you, Leigh. You bring up the most valid point. We are not talking about Miss America-that was last weekend. This is not a beauty contest. Let’s remember what a IndyCar is, basically a land rocket, hurtling people around race tracks at speeds that would make most of us black out or crap our pants-sorry for being graphic. Physical beauty is on some level important, but the goal is to produce a car that is safe-as safe as a race car can be-and produces good racing. I believe that IndyCar management will decide which design or designs that best fit their criteria.

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