The Delta Wing Racer Indy car concept soared into the Chicago Auto Show this week riding currents of outrage rising off Indy Car racing fans. It’s been called heretical, toy-like, Batmobile, and just plain ugly. But I think it’s amazing. Here’s why:
1. It looks like a spaceship.
I’ve been waiting for a chance to fly a Wipeout-style antigravity racer since the ’90s and the Delta Wing is probably as close as I’m gonna get. And those spectacular spaceship looks serve a purpose. The thing is designed like an aircraft for extremely low drag and tons of downforce just where you need it. See how the back end is shaped like the space shuttle? That puts maximum downforce on the middle of the car, providing supreme stability at speed. The shape is so slippery and stable it can conceivably hit 236 miles per hour at Indianapolis Speedway.
2. It weighs less than a bicycle.
Not quite. But the Delta Wing only weighs 1,000 pounds wet. That’s half the weight of current Indy race cars, which means lightning fast reflexes and stellar acceleration and braking. The Delta Wing engineers accomplished this with liberal use of carbon fiber and recycled polyethylene. That means the Delta Wing is just as fast as current Indy cars even though it has half the horsepower (300 horsepower) and uses half the gas.
3. It’s cheap.
It looks like a government-contract stealth fighter made with $1,000 bolts, but the Delta Wing will sell for half the price of current Indy cars. That means I just might be able to afford to rent one for a flight around a track. It also means more races and more opportunities for up-and-comming drivers.
4. It looks like a spaceship.
Seriously. The Delta Wing is a major aesthetic leap forward in race car design. It’s like one of Daniel Simon’s arresting concept vehicles brought to life. Some say the Delta Wing is taking racing in the wrong direction, that race cars should look like real cars so people can relate. I don’t think so. I think the Delta Wing delivers a crucial injection of sci-fi futurism to a sport that is and always has been about technology. I sure as hell would watch a few dozen of these things battle it out at 236 miles per hour around a track. Especially if they held night races. And the cars were festooned with electroluminescent logos.