IndyCar: Rain During GMR Grand Prix Created Issues for Drivers

Well anyone that watched the GMR Grand Prix yesterday from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway saw a crazy race with weather mixing up the race strategy.   Fuel consumption and tire wear were not as important during this race as the choice of tires you were going to put on your car to fit the conditions.  And those conditions changed every 20 minutes.

Something the drivers talked about at the end of the race about a factor that needs to be addressed by the NTT INDYCAR Series, is the issue of the drivers not being able to seeing in front of them during the race.  All drivers remarked about not being able to see at the end of the race because it was raining the hardest at that time.

The aeroscreen, a ballistic laminated polycarbonate windscreen installed in front of the driver’s cockpit, was introduced in 2020 in order to close the cockpit and protect drivers’ heads from projectiles or other intrusions.  The Series did a remarkable job of testing this safety feature before installing it on the car for the 2020 season.

When the aeroscreen was tested in the rain on October 7, 2019, at Barber Motorsports Park  permanent road course in Birmingham, AL, Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay endured rain conditions during a portion of the day. Both drivers came away impressed with the performance of the aeroscreen in the rain.

The  device was designed to have the rain will roll off the aeroscreen similar to how it beads off the driver’s face shield currently.  It would also be equipped with an anti-fogging device, which should prove helpful to the drivers in rainy conditions.


Pagenaud Finished 2nd   –   Penske Entertainment: Chris Owens

Simon Pagenaud, the Meyer Shank Racing driver of the no 60 entry, finished second in the rain-marred race.   Pagenaud commented to the media about his challenges.

“I couldn’t see. I didn’t even know where he was, quite frankly. I picked a few points on the fence to know where I had to brake, but it was very difficult to see without the wiper.”

“I mean, if we had a wiper, it would probably help, but that was the first real race with the Aeroscreen, so you got to give credit to INDYCAR. The safety is amazing, but in these conditions you would need a wiper like they do in the sports cars.”


Fifth Place for Daly              Penske Entertainment: Dana Garrett

Conor Daly, the driver of the Ed Carpenter Racing no 20 BitNile sponsored entry, added his thoughts after finishing 5th.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” he said. “It was like the water just stayed in the center of the screen, and I don’t know why, but even as you went faster, which you would hope it would clear, it didn’t.”

“Obviously, this is very much a scientific test run. We have a lot of data to go through with the series, and I’m sure [IndyCar president] Jay Frye will look at it as well. And he hates when I talk about the aeroscreen, but I’m just describing what I saw, that’s all. It was challenging.”

The winner of the race, Colton Herta, driving the no 26 Gainbridge sponsored Andretti Autosport entry, earned this win for his amazing drive.  AR1 asked him what it was like for him leading the race and the 21-year-old responded that he had no problem.  There was also no traffic in front of him in the last laps in the heavier rain.

Along with the wiper solution suggested by Pagenaud, which would take some engineering to retrofit on the twelve-year-old car,  there might be easier solutions.

Maybe there is some kind of chemical that could be applied on the tearoffs that would repel the water better.  Or maybe a fan that could blow the rain off the center of the screen making visibility better.

And another factor that added to the visibility issue to consider is the rooster tails off the car in front of you.  There were many yellow flags laps yesterday and the vision issue did not get bad until the last time the drivers took the green flag and it was raining the hardest at that point in the race.

I am confident INDYCAR will come up with a solution to address this because racing in the rain shows driver skills and is exciting for the fans to watch.

Lucille Dust reporting for



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