Construction of the new DeltaWing sports racing car has 80-year-old Dan Gurney feeling like a kid again. Gurney, whose All American Racers factory in Santa Ana, CA has produced 157 individual racing cars, including cars that achieved victories in Formula 1, Indy cars (including the Indianapolis 500) and major international sportscar events, agreed to construct the first two race cars from Ben Bowlby's radical design that was initially intended for Indy car racing.
The new DeltaWing will have its first tests later in the year with two-time American Le Mans Series champions, Highcroft Racing. It is intended to compete - without points - at next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 56th pit area that is designated for advanced technological entries. Le Mans organizers normally allow 55 cars - but keep Project 56 available for a worthy entrant such as DeltaWing.
"We are well underway on the DeltaWing and everyone has a great sense of anticipation about seeing it run for the first time," Gurney said. "We're very pleased with the way things have been unfolding and the guys cant wait to get more and more into the project."
Designer Bowlby has been making trips to Gurney's shops from his Indianapolis base on a regular basis. "The progress so far has actually been far better than I dare hoped," he said. "The guys working on the design are doing an outstanding job and everything is coming together exceptionally well."
Bowlby said the front suspension and nose modules have been completed at AAR and the group have been "working with the ACO and the FIA on arranging the crash testing for those components. The tub itself actually conforms to full LM P1 chassis regulations," he revealed. "From the drivers' perspective, their 'office' will be the same whether driving the DeltaWing or another [open] LM P1 car."
Bowlby designed the rear suspension chassis module as a space frame, allowing it to cradle the engine and gearbox and support the suspension itself. "Its design is also complete and we're now tooling up to building parts." Enjoying the trips to work with AAR's staff, Bowlby is excited about the group's prowess. "The level of commitment and 'get it done' factor is extraordinary. Dan and Justin (Gurney's son) have provided an amazing design office for us and they have tremendous manufacturing capabilities here. Dan comes up the drawing office to check on progress, talk about the car and always brings perspective from projects they have done in the past," he noted.
© 2011 Anne Proffit