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DATE News (chronologically)
09/15/10
irl
Delta Wing eyes 2015 IndyCar grid  
Assuming IndyCar is still around in 2015 and the George sisters don’t pull the plug on the whole thing after 2013 if it is still bleeding money, Delta Wing hopes to be allowed to race
Ben Bowlby designed the Delta Wing very much with the Global Racing Engine (GRE) in mind.

"Talk about a perfect fit," Bowlby noted. "All these manufacturers are committed to build Global Racing-type engines but they haven't necessarily got a high-performance outlet. By the end of next year these engines will be readily available and they're not bad pieces at all. For the Delta Wing they're just about perfect other than being not as light as they could be. But all in all, they're a perfect fit for the Delta Wing."

Bowlby stresses that the Delta Wing was designed to accept a wide variety of power sources, including hybrid and electric. Bowlby hopes the Delta Wing can find a place to race where new technology is encouraged.

"I believe we have amazing versatility," Bowlby observes. "We can go whichever way we need to go, even in terms of cost structures. We could get a long way out there with the most crazy, modern technology. There's some big stuff happening in the auto industry after the first wave of efficiency gains. There's some pretty wild stuff beginning to happen out there and it's almost like Silicon Valley is going to be leading it. It's our opportunity in motor sport to get back to having a purpose.

"Look at how every youth, male or female, is attracted for some intangible human characteristic or reason toward the latest labor-saving or communications device. A twelve-year old child today assumes they will own a cell phone and have the latest in technology at their fingertips. That is the status symbol to these young kids, that high-tech power of communication and access to the incredible world that technology brings you. To deny that in motor racing means that in one fell swoop you've crossed racing off the desirability list of the youth of America and the world."

On another front, Dan Partel believes that IndyCar's push for cost-savings with its 2012 formula was driven entirely by the Delta Wing.

"The price reductions with the new Dallara chassis and Honda engine are a direct result of the Delta Wing," Partel commented. "The teams demanded the price reductions and the Delta Wing put the pressure on to reduce the price. Ben's Delta Wing concept included building the car in Indianapolis and creating 150 jobs as well as reducing the cost of building the car. Delta Wing put forward the concept of building a one hundred percent American-built car.

"So all the teams can thank Chip Ganassi and Ben Bowlby for concept of reducing the cost and building the cars in America. In fact, the Delta Wing was the most effective negotiating tool that Randy Bernard had. The $5 million from the state of Indiana was also a result of the Delta Wing. John Barnes set up a meeting with Ben and Chip with the governor and originally they allocated the money to Delta Wing to build cars in Indiana."

Partel says he hopes the Delta Wing will race at Indianapolis in 2015 following the three-year span of the new Dallara-Honda formula.

"My job is to make sure the Delta Wing will be a very competitive option for 2015," Partel commented. "By that time the Delta Wing will be racing someplace else and will be fully-developed and ready to provide a great option for 2015.

"I just think it's a shame that we couldn't race the lightweight Delta Wing with an I-4 engine against the Dallara-Honda combination. It would have been like Jack Brabham and Jim Clark arriving with their lightweight Cooper and Lotus chassis with different, more economical engines. I believe that prospect would have sold-out the Indy 500 in 2012 and '13 and completely re-energized the place."

Finally, some observations from Steve Horne, a former CART team owner and before that a team manager in CART, Can-Am and Formula 5000. Horne usually shows up at Indianapolis, just to look around, and this year he was drafted by Andretti Autosports to help call the raceday strategy on Tony Kanaan's car.

"Looking from an ever increasing distance, apart from a brief refresher at Indy, I see the same basic problems," Horne said. "It ain't a profitable business model for an owner. For a short period in the mid nineties it was, and I was lucky to be on the train, however, nowadays it just isn't and I think it will just get a little worse year by year for owners. Currently it is still propped up by the winners circle deal but that has to be hurting The League.

"Randy Bernard has clearly made a major difference in the way the current model is operating but his direction in my opinion will not have a lasting impact on the series in the years to come. Fundamentally the business model for participation for owners and fans has to change dramatically. It can no longer be a totally passive one for the fans. The new car program goes some ways towards that for the owners but I don't think in my humble opinion it does anywhere enough to increase the awareness and excitement of the sport for the drivers and the fans.

"I just don't think a rehash/iteration of the current business model based around the Dallara concept will move the sport out of the doldrums and its ongoing race to the bottom," Horne added. "As is happening in NASCAR, auto racing is losing its edge, innovation and excitement in the sports race. I really felt deep down that the Delta Wing concept would have allowed both a major significant reduction in costs for the teams along with a dramatic and significant uplift in fan and sponsor appeal. The concept had and has so much appeal to today's and tomorrow's generation that it would have been a major change in the whole sport and business model." GordonKirby.com

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