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DATE News (chronologically)
02/14/12
irl
New Dallara IndyCar much improved UPDATE #16 IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard stated Monday night in Indianapolis, and rightly so, that a lot of criticism of the new IndyCar (including right here on AR1.com) is unfair.  He gave a lot of credit to Will Phillips for improving the car.  He stated that Reuben's Barrichello thought the car was great to drive on a road course and that was confirmed to us by several drivers Monday in Indy.  There is still work to be done on the ovals, but there is time.

02/09/12 Japanese driver Takuma Sato is excited by what he's seen so far from IndyCar's new chassis, and looking forward to launching the season with his new Rahal, Letterman, Lanigan team.

"It's one of the exciting things, that we have an absolutely brand new car," Sato said on a conference call Wednesday to discuss his recently announced 2012 role.

The chassis designed by Dallara for use in IndyCar this season is called the DW12 in honor of British driver Dan Wheldon. Wheldon died of injuries received in a massive crash at the IndyCar season finale in Las Vegas last October.

Wheldon, who didn't have a full-time ride last season, did much of the testing for the new design, and Sato said it seems to be a winner.

"Basically all areas were improved from last year's Dallara chassis," he said. "There was more downforce. It's more precise with the feel of the car. I've got more grip as well... With the new carbon brake there seems to be very consistent stopping power.

"Working with the engineering side... whatever we changed, it seems to be clearly responding very well," he added. "So that was an exciting thing, too."

The reality is that the new Dallara is much safer than the old one.  Period.  Full Stop.  Previously tall drivers were stuffed into the car with NO attenuation foam either behind their backs or under their seat (spine).  Simple off track excursions, not shunts or contact with anything, resulted in MAJOR injuries to the taller drivers (Wilson’s season ending injury at Mid-Ohio last year comes to mind but there have been plenty more over the previous ten years of the old Dallara tub).  Tall driver's knees were touching the top of the tub massively increasing the likelihood of a injury to his legs, knees, ankles, and feet.  In the old tub elbow’s were jammed up against the tub in full contact with the structure of the tub which resulted in the same likelihood of injury to his arms, hands, and elbows as the legs had.

As to spinal injury tall drivers all were forced to compete in the old tub with their buttocks on the carbon fiber of the tub with NO energy foam, and their back against the bulkhead with ¼” or less.  They all now have a minimum of 3” under and behind the seat.  The old tub was great for pint sized drivers and a injury vessel for the taller drivers as it was only a matter of time before a taller driver was crippled from no foam fittings.

Look at photos of tall drivers getting out of the old tub you will see knee and elbow pads which they wore to provide some relief from the constant chaffing which, however, would do nothing to provide resistance to serious injury.

Yes, the head WAS higher in initially in the new tub due to a design flaw.  There WAS, past tense, an electronic equipment pod under the drivers (under the more than 3” of foam) that resulted in the driver sitting higher in the cockpit.  That pod, or rather the equipment in it, was relocated to different parts of the tub and necessitated new wiring looms.

The head of tall drivers is now the same as it was in the old car.  Not an improvement, which was one of the design criteria so they have failed there.  However, it is NOT MORE exposed.

The new car is ALREADY over a FULL SECOND faster than the old chassis at Sebring and that is a very short course.  So you will see substantially faster times on road and street circuits generally.  That is the new tub is FASTER than the old tub.  That is going in the right direction.

Oval situation is a design flaw that we have no idea how they are going to fix.  The weight balance of the car is totally out of whack.  The car is harder to drive, some say diabolical, on ovals so far.  Certainly, that will result in drivers with better skills being able to drive within the limits of the poorly designed chassis and others that will not be able to resulting in separation of cars.

01/24/12 One IndyCar engineer, who prefers to remain anonymous, told AR1.com that they had not put the new chassis on a 7-post shaker yet but looking at the tub they cannot see any way it could be as stiff as the old model.  Bigger cockpit opening and a shaped rear bulkhead (to fit the oil tank) will all contribute to a torsional stiffness reduction.  It could be a handling issue but this person doubts that it will overshadow the problem with the weight distribution.  Having said that the real issue will be getting the most out of the tires which keep getting more conservative and consequently have a smaller window of tolerance to contact patch load.

01/09/12 The absolute worst thing an open wheel car should be is a "Flexible Flyer," i.e. a poorly designed chassis that flexes so much setting it up to handle properly is next to impossible.  According to what AR1.com is hearing from some of the teams - not only is the new Dallara IndyCar butt ugly and slow, it turns out the tub is about 30 to 35% more flexible than the outgoing IndyCar,  and that one was not very stiff.  The cockpit opening big enough for a Walrus is part of the problem, but this thing flexes everywhere we are told.  Most states have a lemon law where the car owner can get a refund.  Here is the Indiana State Lemon Law.  Seriously, IndyCar should us the old cars another year, contract with Elan Motorsports to build Champ Car DP01 cars (a proper race car - a car everyone loved) as the new IndyCar and in the process put more Americans to work.

The ugliest race car in recent history.  Imagine the problems makers of the other body kits are going to have getting this poorly designed car to handle
12/26/11 Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti has called upon the series to do more to ensure that the new Dallara DW12 chassis that will be introduced for 2012 can be adapted to different driving styles.

"I have really enjoyed working with Honda again; tweaking the bits and pieces and just working on all those areas that we know we need to get right to be competitive," said the Scot. "Working with the car has been a little more frustrating. Scott says that they are starting to make some progress now, but for me it is very important that the series allows us to fix the car (deemed a lemon by AR1.com), and work with the car, and not paint us into too tight a box.

"We're starting to fix the imbalances and stuff, but it is important that the series allows the latitude to adjust the car to different driving styles. It's one thing saying that everybody has got to drive the same stuff, but that's going to suit certain drivers and really hurt other drivers."

The series is preparing for its first engine war after several years of having a single engine supplier in Honda, and Franchitti said that he is relishing the chance to chase an early advantage when testing resumes in the new year.

"With the manufacturer race that's coming up with Lotus, Chevy and Honda, I am really excited about that part of it," he said. "It's going to be interesting to see who gets it right, who doesn't get it so right, and how close they are going to be matched." Racer.com

12/22/11 This ESPN.com article counts the ways the new IndyCar turned out to be a lemon because it was sole-sourced to one company (Dallara) that Brian Barnhart wanted.  This is the same Brian Barnhart who is the father of 'pack' racing in IndyCar that saw countless drivers maimed and killed over the years, and who designed the previous IndyCar (called the crapwagon by most).  IndyCar has come up with another inferior car, a compromise car, all to pander to the people who say IndyCar must race on ovals, even though hardly anyone buys tickets to them.

12/14/11 That quote first appeared on a fan bulletin board at 11:30 pm on Monday, but Honda's test of the car (and Simon's time in it) did not begin until TUESDAY morning. So it would've been a bit difficult for someone to pick up an accurate "scanner quote" roughly 9 hours before the test began unless the time stamp on the bulletin board is from an overseas time zone.

12/13/11 Simon Pagenaud Sebring DW12 scanner quote.....
"It's like driving an F3 car now. No power in slow/medium corners, oversteer on high speed corners."

12/09/11 After reading the latest update on speed.com of the new IndyCar and the fact it will never reach it's intended speed it was designed for without bumping up the horsepower significantly to make up for the lost speed due to an inferior designed chassis, it is safe to say that this rumor is now 'fact', the new IndyCar is officially a lemon - 1) it's slow down the straight (too much drag), 2) it handles horribly (too much weight at the rear of the car because of Dallara's inferior design capability) and 3) it's the ugliest looking IndyCar ever produced (no one likes it).  Isn't there a Lemon Law in the state of Indiana?

12/07/11 INDYCAR will test lighter gearbox components designed to improve the Dallara DW12's weight distribution problems this week in testing at the 1.5-mile Homestead oval with help from Chevrolet and Honda. Speed.com

12/01/11 A reader writes, Dear IndyCar/Hulman George Family:

Please.....I beg you or whoever can make an executive decision to please do something about the 2012 IndyCar!!!!! The new car will KILL the IndyCar series.  The car is NOT sexy, sleek or even fast!!! The general public (non IndyCar fans) will NOT be attracted to the series while looking at that hideous looking car and we will likely lose even more fans to Nascar and even F1.

This is not just my opinion......read every blog, website, Facebook posts out there....EVERYONE (or should I say 99.9%) says that this car wins the all time ULGY award for design....and now as testing continues...performance too!!!

My advice....Either use an old design, seriously tweak the new design with aesthetics in mind, get an entirely new design or just keep the current car for one more year had let another designer have a crack at the car.

I really don’t see how this car even got this far.......how can someone look at that car and say "yup...that looks good"??

Mark my words....this will ruin IndyCar once and for all and that would be a shame after sooooo much progress has been made in the last few years. This is your chance to hit a home run! But with this car it looks like IndyCar will strike out.

Somebody PLEASE do something!!!!! Executive decision.....someone??? Hello???

True (but very disappointed) IndyCar fan. Peter M. Romero

12/01/11 Randy Bernard is facing concerns about the new IndyCar. Although drivers have found it acceptable in recent road course tests, they’ve complained it’s too slow and difficult to handle on ovals.  Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe tested the car Tuesday and Wednesday at California. Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan both tested it in early November at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and found the speeds to be almost 15 mph slower than what was expected. AP Story

11/30/11 Previous 2012 IndyCar oval tests with Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon drew complaints of a severely loose car entering the corner, followed by the DW12 then heading for the wall on corner exit.  The gentle turns at the high-banked 2-mile Fontana oval are nothing like the sharp angles drivers deal with at Indy, but Scott Dixon says despite the less demanding corners on the southern California oval, the same handling problems appeared.

"Yeah, it's evil on entry, not sure about what to say in the middle [of the corner] and then it pushes like crazy. It's just nasty getting in; an ill feeling, and I had two or three big moments today. With most cars you can anticipate what's coming, but with this car, you're not sure what to expect. We were far from trimmed out, but had to put most all the downforce back in. But the way it is now it's not going to be easy-flat, I can promise you that." Speedtv.com  [Editor's Note: Normally Fontana is a 100% throttle track and handling does not come into play, but when a car is designed as poorly as this one it does.  Dallara designs the slug that HRT uses in F1 as well - dead last in the field every race.]

When Champ Car and IndyCar merged, the Panoz DP01 Champ Car should have been the car the series went to.  Superior in every regard to the new IndyCar
11/29/11 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, After reading this Speed.com article on the problems with the new IndyCar, and your article on its safety shortcomings, I think it's time to declare the new IndyCar a lemon, run last year's car one more year and switch to the Champ Car Panoz DP01 as the new IndyCar.  That car was faster than the slug that is the 2012 IndyCar, handled better on all tracks, looked better, and did not fly through the air and crash into catch fences.  It was superior in every regard. 

And to think, Brian Barnhart wanted to sole source the new IndyCar to Dallara.  Well he handed them the contract and look at the mess we now have. Barnhart should be run out of Indy just like Tony George.  Mordichai Rosen, LA, California.

Dear Mordichai, A lot of people in the IndyCar paddock would agree with you, beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Mark C.

11/10/11 Will Phillips, IndyCar's VP of Technology tells SPEED.com, “The car isn’t going as fast as we wanted or expected and we’re trying to identify why."

In Speedway trim, the 2012 Dallara suffers from a few different issues that the series is working to resolve before the mid-December delivery date.

The immediate concern is the disappointing performance of the Dallara at the Speedway last week, where Dario Franchitti and Kanaan tested for two days.

And, while the top speeds were only between 208-216 mph for either the Honda or Chevy-powered drivers, it was more a product of the car’s handling than a question of power.

“The focus of concern is with weight distribution,” said Will Phillips, vice president of technology for the IZOD IndyCar Series and the midwife of the first new car in a decade for this series.

“The car is too good on entry and suffers understeer on [corner] exit and it’s the same complaint from Dario and Tony that Dan [Wheldon] gave us after the first test.

“So the car isn’t going as fast as we wanted or expected and we’re trying to identify why the theoretical world doesn’t match real world at the race track. At very high speeds, we have disparity in the data.”

11/09/11 As we pointed out in this article, the new IndyCar is not only ugly, it exposes the driver's head more than the old car, and in light of the fatal blow to Dan Wheldon's head in Las Vegas, we questioned whether the new car needs a major overhaul already, or a canopy added.  Then comes this in Today's Robin Miller mailbag on Speedtv.com:

Q: Word in the paddock is that the DW12 chassis has "huge" aero issues -- the Honda and Chevy only reached 209 to 214 last week at Indy -- and that the Honda engine is currently capable of only very short runs due to an overheating issue. The engineers called Dario in repeatedly after only a few laps at a time. I'm confident Honda will sort out the overheating issue pretty quickly. I'm not as confident that the chassis' current aero kit is getting it done. For the weight and HP, the car should easily be reaching 228 at this stage, even before trimming it out for May. What are you hearing? Big Mo, Centerville Ohio

Miller: Those are the speeds I heard and not sure if motor or chassis (or both) is the reason but nobody is talking right now. Honda has definitely had some teething problems but not sure if it's tied to the ECU or what. But that's why we have testing and they'll get it sorted.

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