IndyCar experimenting with LED lighting system on cars

IndyCar teams won't work alone in the official testing period that begins Friday. The Indianapolis-based sanctioning body will be testing, too.

IndyCar's focus will be an LED lighting system that displays the running order of each car from the car. The Tudor United Sports Car Championship uses a similar, albeit smaller, system to communicate running order to spectators.

IndyCar president Derrick Walker said Dallara is making what is described as a 9-by-4 inch picture frame that will be mounted on the roll hoop of each car. Ideally, the system that's tied to official timing and scoring will be ready for use in the Indianapolis 500 in May.

The system could serve multiple functions, Walker said. The car number can change color to signify caution on the track. A pulsation of the number might mean the car is running low on fuel. Dashes might indicate the driver's use of the overtaking mechanism.

"It all there to help the fans better understand what is going on," Walker said.

As an owner of a sports car team, Walker can vouch for the effectiveness of such a system. After a race in which his team finished fourth, Walker remembers being back at the transporter when the system switched the number to 3. Seconds later, a series official arrived to say the third-place car had been dropped in the order due to a penalty.

Later, a review of a protest reversed the decision. Before Walker learned of the decision, timing and scoring had changed the car number back to 4. Curt Cavin/Indy Star

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