Everything the next generation IndyCar should be.
Watch this video annimation.
05/23/16 Designer Chris Beatty provides more technical details about his proposed design.
04/09/16 Chris Beatty has come up with the ultimate IndyCar concept design for the next generation IndyCar. It is:
- Safe – complete with canopy and a double rollover bar system (one in front of driver, one behind his head)
- Almost no wings – very little downforce generated from air over the car
- Huge underbody downforce
- Wider tires – more mechanical grip
The video below takes you around Spa in the car so you can see the driver's sight lines. Turn up the volume and hear the tires screech as the driver fights for grip.
It's time to make driver talent a bigger part of the equation in open wheel racing. More images here
Related article: IndyCar is broken and here is how to fix it.
Reducing Downforce (As presented above) improves the racing
The concept traces directly to the self-assurance any high-level race car driver must possess: A difficult car to drive will sift the elite from the rest. Outcomes in their own hands are preferred.
That tactile connection between driver and machine became less steady as increased application of fluid dynamics made cars faster, more aerodynamically efficient under pristine conditions, but often incapable of producing the type of entertainment fans craved and drivers yearned to provide. Sophisticated analysis will remain a crucial part of research and development for teams that can afford it, but science has begun to put racing back in the hands of drivers, not engineers.
NASCAR last season experimented with a downforce-reduction aerodynamics package that was widely lauded as a catalyst for passing, competition and entertainment, then implemented it for full use this season.
“I know there is a tipping point where you have too much off," six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said. “But I think we’re far from it."
Drivers remain pleased as the package saw its first use this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, the type of 1.5-mile track that comprises much of the 36-race Sprint Cup schedule. In the odd nature of a sport in which the rate of equipment fails is a crucial part of the sporting and intrinsic value, the prospect of an abrasive Texas asphalt and how it would further energize racing intrigued drivers after qualifying on Friday.
“You’re slipping and sliding everywhere out there. That’s with 15-20 laps on your tires," said Joey Logano, who qualified second. “Can you imagine when we get 40 laps in what it’s going to be like? I mean, it’s gonna be a lot of fun."
IndyCar drivers yearn for some of the same latitude under their unique circumstances, a process made more difficult with the introduction of aerodynamic body kits by Chevrolet and Honda last season. The common thread with both NASCAR and IndyCar, however, is the conundrum of devising an aerodynamics package that allows cars to perform predictably both alone and in turbulent air flow on ovals. Wind tunnels, for all their analytical benefit, cannot simulate this most basic facet of the sport, how their approaches and attempts to pass are impacted by wakes of air from competitors.
Though IndyCar currently races on ovals in five of 16 races, anticipation of the 100th Indianapolis 500 and a mundane return last week to 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway has made aerodynamics a topical concern.
“It’s a lot of aero (dependence) right now," IndyCar points leader Simon Pagenaud said. “And in some considerations it’s too much. I personally thought it was way too much in Phoenix. I want to be lifting. I want to be having to conserve my tires. I want to be able to drive in deeper than another guy on the throttle if he’s struggling and I’m not.
“Right now, the problem is I don’t feel like you have that luxury. If you’re the fastest car, you’re stuck behind someone because the downforce, there’s so much turbulence you can’t exploit your downforce behind the car."
Defending series champion Scott Dixon considers the current IndyCar product “pretty special" overall and said lack of power steering already makes the current car iteration a chore to drive. Tweaks are needed, he acknowledged, specifically improving downforce from the bottom of the car and reducing the dependence on the myriad of wings and pods in the currently kit rules.
Dixon, like most of his peers, favors an overall downforce reduction with the addition of greater horsepower. Still, he said, strides have been made.
“We’ve come a long way from mile-and-a halfs where you would just go flat and you’d have a pack of 25 cars and your mum could hook onto that pack and drive around in it too," said Dixon, who won at Texas last season. “The cars are not like that anymore. (In) Texas you are on the edge constantly. You might get the first eight laps of a stint flat, and then you’re really wheeling the thing."
Safety considerations are already impacting series officials’ attempts to recreate the type of racing that invigorated fans at Indianapolis the past few years. A newly implemented “dome skid" device affixed to car bottoms and designed to prevent lift in sideways skids has inserted a variable into the process. The presence of the device raises car height and affects stability and how race cars handle in close proximity. Concocting an aerodynamics configuration that performs as predictably in turbulent air as when a car is racing alone is a conundrum in all forms of racing.
“It’s definitely within reach," former series champion and Indianapolis 500-winner Ryan Hunter-Reay said of balancing performance and product. “We absolutely know how to do it. It’s just a matter of getting that sweet spot, that small window where it’s challenging to drive in traffic and it’s still a good race.
“You can overshoot it, and everybody will be sliding around for grip, the cars can’t get anywhere near each other or you can miss it on the other end and you’ll have a situation where the car is too stuck, has too much downforce in traffic, and then you have something closer to pack racing."
Toyota Racing Development group vice president and technical director Andy Graves agrees that downforce reductions and horsepower additions will continue as a needed trend. He said ill-conceived attempts at creating parity have been partly to blame for stagnation in the past.
“They think if they make rules that close that gap and reduce the amount of time from the fastest qualifier to the slowest guy that they are helping the smaller teams, they’re making it more even for everyone. The reality is that’s false," Graves said. “That’s not the way it works. The good teams are still going to do a better job, but when everyone runs so close to the same speeds, they can’t make the pass. You have to have disparity. Over time, when you hear sanctioning bodies say they’ve reduced the gap, they’ve helped the small guy, they want more cars on the lead lap, cars running closer together.
“To me, that’s not at least what I fell in love with when I was a young boy in auto racing and being in the sport in the early 90s, when, OK, maybe we only have seven or eight cars finish on the lead lap, but the racing was good."
Johnson said that “driver opinion was maybe a little slow to sell" with the series, but the creation of a driver council last year provided a more efficient mean of communication. There is more to do, he said.
“When I came in with the Monte Carlos (as a rookie in 2002), the rules were pretty unlimited with the bodies, and every week we found a way to create more downforce," Johnson said. “Driving for Hendrick, we were usually on the front side of that and created the fastest cars as a result. But after reaching the peaks of all that downforce, the faster we go, the harder it is to race. The faster we go the harder it is to run side by side at these tracks.
“So I’ve watched that change, and this year – and even the two races last year with less downforce – the track seemed a lot wider. You could get close to somebody. You could race with someone."
And that’s the idea. KSDK