2010 Chicago Auto Show: 2012 IndyCar Delta Wing Concept (With Video)

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The Indy Racing League's Dallara spec chassis is growing long in the tooth and tired in appearance, but it's due to be replaced by an all-new car unveiled today. Designed by a group of Indy execs, the Delta Wing's production will be outsourced to existing industry builders to produce a car that's thoroughly modern, promises better racing, and best of all, actually looks like the future.

The future of land-speed racing, that is. Delta Wing Racing says it's good for 235-mph lapping with just half the fuel consumption of current cars. IndyCar has been one of the leading series in adopting greener technologies, running exclusively on 100 percent ethanol for the past several seasons. It goes green on weight and drag, too, with an estimated with--with driver--of just 1,030 pounds, a drag coefficient of 0.24 and power output of 300 horsepower from a non-stressed turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant.

Talk of the upcoming Delta Wing has been circulating in racing circles for months now, with wild speculation over its design and performance. It turns out some of the rumors were right, but some--not so much.

Vaguely reminiscent of the awesome absurdity of the six-wheeled Tyrrell Formula 1 days, the narrow-nosed, highly streamlined concept car predicts the future of IndyCar. How the design manages the understeer inherent in such a narrow front track isn't yet clear, though the video below demonstrates the car in simulation at Mid Ohio, complete with cheesy synthetic engine/exhaust notes. The absence of front wings is made up for by a high-downforce underbody that uses the venturi effect to help hold it to the ground.

It's worth noting that such ground effects only work well at higher speeds, potentially making lower-speed corners on road courses tricky. Weight distribution is as odd as the car, with 72.5 percent of the mass over the rear wheels, and 80 percent of the downforce generated pulling the rear axles into the pavement.

“Today marks a fundamental shift in how race fans and the general public will view all racing cars in the future; this is a game changer” said Dan Partel, CEO of DeltaWing LLC. “This radical prototype takes open wheel racing to a new level from both an engineering standpoint and the overall spectator experience.”

Straight-line stability, another concern for such a narrow front track, is enhanced by the tall rear tailfin. Again, however, this works best at high speeds, so it will be interesting to see if the inherent mechanical grip of the chassis is enough to balance things out in slower corners. One thing it will help with, however, is minimizing aerodynamic disturbance behind the car, making for more overtaking opportunities and therefore more exciting racing. Though the wildly-understeering, unstable low-speed dynamics may take car of that on their own. We have to assume for now that the engineers behind the design have done their homework to produce a stable, fast and fun-to-watch car.

Delta Wing plans to have the first prototype on the track in August in preparation for its launch as the official IndyCar platform for the 2012 season.

[Delta Wing Racing]

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Comments (8)
  1. Yuck. These look really weird. I think they're too long in the nose, and the front grip is going to be a serious issue.

  2. It should be great to 'high' speed turns, no? :)

  3. It's not April 1st yet.

  4. According to my computer, it's February 10th. I don't know if somehow, some new trend equates that to April first, but this concept looks about as likely as that nuclear powered, flying car we should've been driving 20 years ago,lol!

  5. Joe, I couldn't agree more. Though I do have a perverse desire to see them on the race track. I can only imagine what the Europeans would say about them.
    Ido, I bet it would be very good in the higher speed turns if the downforce and stability claims hold true. A little bias toward understeer can be a good thing in that case.
    Looks like it would get pretty squirelly in the wet though, and even with most of the weight in the back, they might be a lot of "fun" to brake from 200+ mph.

  6. A few things just don't add up about the IndyCar Delta Wing or Radical Racer. With such a long and narrow front end and a center of gravity on the rear part in its entirety, that car (regardless of the ground effect devices) could swing like a pendulum on the curves and during breaking! In addition, I don't know if there is a car ethics or not but a race car should look like a car in the first place,not like an airplane, I think.

  7. Based on this design, any brisk turn will be extremly difficult to do. There will be no traction to the front wheel to turn properly and will be the tippiest car ever! Good luck setting this car up for any tracks, it won't like bumps or side winds!!!
    Looks great and different with is the direction to go for the serie but somebody must review what are a race car parameter. Those rear wheel will always be knocked off!

  8. Looks more like the next Batmobile than a racing car !

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