The new era of Indy car racing is on display at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the INDYCAR World Championship weekend on the 1.5-mile LVMS banked oval.
This morning, prior to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, both the Chevrolet/Dallara/Firestone and Honda/Dallara/Firestone prototypes took early morning exploratory laps and then performed five laps around the oval. Charlie Kimball, driver of the 2011 No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing racer drove the Honda prototype while Andretti Autosport's No. 28 driver Ryan Hunter-Reay exercised the Chevrolet entry.
They did an out lap together, three laps at partial speed and then an in lap. Even though Erik Berkman told Kimball there was $100 for him to lead at the end of the final exhibition lap, it was the Chevrolet, and RHR in front!
First impressions are that these cars are much quieter than the V-8 Honda Indy-powered vehicles they replace, but there were only two of them and they were traveling at something less than warp speed, after all. This was a demonstration and there are no replacement parts available as build-up goes apace in Italy for the teams that are scheduled to take possession of their first cars on the 15th of December.
Sam Garrett, US project manager for Dallara Cars said the two prototypes are being housed at the new facility just a few blocks from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There is a firewall between the Chevrolet and Honda teams working on each manufacturer's prototypes and a "neutral zone" in between.
As one would expect, they are keeping very much to themselves as they examine the new race car for 2012 and beyond and as they prepare their manufacturer's prototype. Only Ganassi Racing personnel are working on the Honda; team members from Penske, Panther, Andretti Autosport and a fourth team not yet announced with Chevrolet are participating on the other side of the partition.
The third prototype, for Lotus, is waiting for an engine to be delivered to Italy for installation and run-in purposes. It's expected that, since the Engine Developments Ltd. power mill is on the dynamometer now, that it should be shipped to Italy forthwith. Once the fitments are done the car travels to Indianapolis and waits for the anchor team or teams that have selected Lotus to begin testing.
Once the 2011 World Championship weekend is done, both Chevrolet and Honda commence testing on the 1.5-mile LVMS oval this coming Wednesday and Thursday.
© 2011 Anne Proffit