Sam Schmidt Weighs In On New Formula For Indy Lights

As owner of the most successful team in Indy Lights history, Sam Schmidt is very interested in the process of creating a new chassis and engine formula for INDYCAR’S Firestone Indy Lights Championship.

Series officials have confirmed they are accepting proposals by manufacturers who want to provide the next evolution Indy Lights racing chassis beginning in 2014. It’s anticipated that a new engine will also be introduced at the same time.

In a story published at last week, it was confirmed that the Delta Wing chassis has been submitted to League officials for consideration as the new Indy Lights spec chassis.

With the interest in the Delta Wing project the past two years, this story has generated a great deal of discussion among the motorsports community.

Schmidt currently fields four cars in the Firestone Indy Lights series. He did the same last year and won the championship with rising IZOD IndyCar Series star Josef Newgarden. Currently, two of his drivers – Esteban Guerrieri and Tristan Vautier – sit first and second in the Indy Lights championship.

Since 2002, SSM has won 52 Indy Lights races, 54 poles and five championships.

Schmidt recently talked about what he’d like to see in the new Indy Lights formula:

From an owner’s standpoint, what would you like to see in the next Indy Lights formula? “ As the final step in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system before reaching the IndyCar series, Firestone Indy Lights needs to showcase the talent of the driver first and foremost. With the exception of pit stops and really expensive data acquisition platforms, a driver in Indy Lights should be challenged with everything an IndyCar driver would be, both on and off the track. Second, from an owner's perspective, the chassis needs to be safe, reliable, economic to compete with, and easily transferable from street, road course and oval circuits. Lastly, it is critical that Indy Lights has an engine manufacturer partner involved from the get go of the new chassis."

From a driver’s standpoint, what would you like to see in the next generation of Indy Lights car? “Safety elements, similar to those incorporated in the DW-12 chassis, should be first and foremost. Also, in the interest of separating the men from the boys, I would vote for a high horsepower/low downforce package similar to what IndyCar is doing on the ovals this year. The 2012 Firestone spec tire doesn't retain grip for the length of the event currently, so that would be perfect to combine with a chassis that needs to be driven. Lastly, it obviously needs to incorporate the latest technology such as data acquisition, sequential shifting, carbon brakes, etc. To reduce costs, I would vote to leave chassis, engine, suspension, gearbox, dampers, tires and primary bodywork as spec components as they are with the current formula."

Talk about the current Dallara chassis being used: “I'm amazed year after year at the consistency, strength and reliability of the original IP2 chassis design. SSM has won just as many pole positions and races in 2012 with a 2002 chassis, as it has with its most current 2008 chassis. Unfortunately, to keep up with current competing series, we must update several elements, which will lead to a new chassis in 2014. But without a doubt, this Dallara chassis has been the best support series chassis I have ever been exposed to."

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