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36 Franck Montagny 8
We drive the Delta Wing SIM

by Scott Morris
Saturday, May 29, 2010

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Delta Wing on display at the Speedway Friday
Mark Cipolloni/AR1.com
As our readers would have noticed, we have featured a lot of articles and information on the Delta Wing car. This is not that we think the other cars are inferior or from less than stellar manufacturers. But none of them represent the jump that the Delta Wing presents to the sport. Now, this might be too big a jump for some fans, or it might not. We leave that up to you. However, from what we know of the car, it presents a whole new face and style of racing for IndyCar, on many levels.

The biggest factor in question is the raceability of the design. Many very knowledgeable people still would bet one of their limbs that the car simply is not going to turn.

In reply to this, we can agree that might be a problem. After all, a racing car that cannot turn, is not much of a racing car.

Much has evolved in the world of computer simulation; to such an extent that many cars and other vehicles are being designed entirely in a virtual world, from design to performance testing.

Racing cars are making particularly extensive use of this simulation technology, with very consistent and reliable results. So much so, that F1 teams have elaborate simulators for their teams and drivers to prepare in advance of arriving at the track.

So when I saw the videos of the Delta Wing on their website, I was a bit skeptical, as one could simply model it as a body with the underlying data being the same or similar to a current traditional car. However, it struck me that this would not be of benefit to anyone. After all, why would Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske invest their money, and more importantly, their reputation on something unless they had very convincing evidence that it would work? After all these are not two guys that just come to the races to look sharp in a headset and crew shirt.

So I have been harping at the Delta Wing people to release their rFactor mod that they created for testing the car in virtual space. They stuttered a bit when responding, telling me they might like to do that, but had reservations.

So instead, I pestered them until they let me into their shop to drive it there. They took my fingerprints and made me sign a contract that would allow them to harvest my organs after they killed me if I took pictures of anything or said too much about what I would see there.

Well not really, but it makes it all sound much more covert and exciting.

What I can say was exciting was experiencing how this car handles. I drove the car on a Mid-Ohio sim track, and have driven that same track with numerous other cars. I find that sim racing can drastically reduce my own racing expenditures, and does seem to increase my performance and improvement curve on the real worlds tracks. In fact I find sim racing to be harder than real world racing in many respects, as you are lacking the real-world sensory inputs that many drivers rely upon.

Driving the car at the Mid-Ohio track was enlightening. The car has no hesitation to turn-in at all. In fact, I can say that it turns in so quickly and cleanly that it took a little adjustment at first. If you are used to driving sports cars or a lot of other cars in simulators, this car would be a dream to drive. I quickly found that I could steer the tail of the car with the throttle very predicatably as well. Braking the car was very stable, and reminded me a lot of a go-kart really, in that with most of the braking coming from the rear, you could get really deep into a corner with it if you had to (though not the fastest way through a corner) without locking a front wheel and washing out the front.

I intentionally (and admittedly unintentionally) got the car very deep and out of shape into the keyhole and was able to gather it up very easily.

I was trying to spin the car at some points, just seeing what it would do. It was not entirely simple to spin the car around, but it was really easy to be slow in the car. So essentially, the car has a lot of handling latitude for the driver, but rewards their skills of precision, braking, and power application.

I did not get a chance to experience any drafting or play with the nose-tail racing aspects of the car, but I look forward to doing so when they release the mod for the general public.

Short of some sort of computer anomaly, I can tell you that the car works...at least in the virtual world.

Feedback can be sent to feedback@autoracing1.com

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