If you’re one of the few remaining fans of American open wheeled racing, here’s some good news: starting in 2012, IndyCar won’t be a spec series any more, and may actually feature cars with different engines and unique aerodynamics packages. No, it isn’t the glory days of homebuilt chassis’ running old school bus motors, but the new rules should breathe some life back into the stagnant series.
Autoblog tells us that IndyCar has chosen Dallara as the 2012 chassis supplier to the series. Since they supply the current chassis to all IndyCar teams, this news isn’t exactly surprising. However, the 2012 design allows for the use of third party aerodynamics packages, which should allow the better-funded teams to develop unique (and, presumably, more competitive) race cars.
The new Dallara chassis is said to be lighter, safer and up to 40% less expensive than their current offering. Keeping the cost of competition in line has long been a goal of the IndyCar series, but there’s still a huge difference in performance between the well funded teams (Target Chip Ganassi and Penske Racing) and those with less resources (Sarah Fisher Racing, Dale Coyne Racing). The new engine and chassis rules may help, but it’s unlikely the series will see any true underdog successes even after the new rules are in place.
The real winner here is Dallara, who announced plans to build a chassis manufacturing plant in Indianapolis, in support of the series. If it creates jobs and makes open wheeled racing more interesting, I’m all for it.