Crain News Service report
DETROIT (June 4, 2013) — IndyCar has targeted the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016 as the place to break a record that's stood since 1996.
That point was driven home June 2 as Derrick Walker, IndyCar's new president of competition and operations, laid out a gradual plan to get speeds at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 237 mph bracket, which would break Arie Luyendyk's single-lap record of 237.498 mph.
IndyCar wants aero kits to debut in 2015 because Mr. Walker said the series first must address the flat-bottom nature of the series' cars. A program is under way to reduce the opportunity of lift when a car breaks downforce.
Once that is solved—hopefully in time for next year, Mr. Walker said—aero modifications can begin. The full 2015 season will have aero kits, he said.
The most variables for the manufacturers will be in the superspeedway kits, where all sorts of bodywork modifications will be in play. The road course kits will be limited to front and rear wing allowances.
As a compromise to team owners and manufacturers who have concerns about the cost of the program, Mr. Walker, himself a former team owner, said there will be the right steps taken to prevent running people out of business. He predicted the manufacturers will spend $5 million each on kit development.
"The brunt of it," he said.
The other compromise will come in the form of allowing teams to design, build and develop some of the components themselves, something the team owners have been asking for in recent years as a cost-saving initiative.
"This is the first step in making the incremental changes to our cars toward further enhancing speed, innovation and safety," Mr. Walker said.
Initiatives outlined as part of the IZOD IndyCar Series long-term strategy include:
• 2013—IndyCar and Dallara look to reduce the surface area of the underbody of the current chassis to reduce the potential for lift in preparation for the addition of various aerodynamic configurations in 2015.
• 2014—Engine upgrades as part of the current homologation process; downforce adjustments to enhance racing, overtaking as well as safety at various racetrack configurations, as needed.
• 2015—Aero configuration components introduced for the full Izod IndyCar Series season in conjunction with potential enhancements to the underbody.
• 2016—Opportunity for tire development, if needed, with Bridgestone's Firestone race tires, as well as engine power enhancements as required.
• 2017—Possible aero configuration kits and engine upgrades. Potential for areas on cars to be opened for team development.
• 2018—Competition enhancements made based on performance of 2017 package.
• 2019—Potential introduction of new body style and engine formula.
• 2020—Competition enhancements made based on performance of 2019 package.
• 2021—Possible aero configuration upgrade.
"Our long-term competition strategy is designed to build on the foundation of our current package with progressive and methodical enhancements in conjunction with our manufacturers, teams and drivers," Mr. Walker said.
"Always with an eye towards safety, our timeline will build on our already exciting product and create opportunities for us to move the performance barrier forward through enhancements designed to balance the longevity of our current car-engine platform as we build toward the next generation IndyCar package."
This report appeared on the website of Autoweek magazine, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.