BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Upgrades to the Dallara chassis and evaluation of a steering damper have been initiated by INDYCAR with Verizon IndyCar Series driver input.
The chassis enters its third year of competition on the most diverse set of racetracks in motorsports, including the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 28-30.
Carbon fiber panels bonded to the exterior and interior sides of the cockpit (photo below) supplement the Xylon anti-intrusion panels introduced in 2008. The additions will increase the chassis’ side impact integrity by 60 percent.
Additionally, a carbon fiber reinforcement ring is being added to increase the structural integrity of the cockpit opening. The upgrades will add about 10 pounds to the rolling chassis. Work, which began in January, is being conducted at Aerodine Composites Group in Indianapolis. The update will be required for all cars entered in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 25.
“Part of racing is always is an evolution,” INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Derrick Walker said. “The rules change and there are things you’ll do this year because you never saw them last year.”
A modification of the headrest surround for road and street courses reduces the low G force levels usually seen on bumpy street circuits when the driver’s helmet buffets the headrest. The Kevlar covering, which was hard after being painted, has been replaced by Nomex. The Nomex wraps three different densities of Confor Foam and EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) foam. The Confor Foam addition didn’t affect high-end G force impact performance in testing conducted at the Center for Advanced Product Evaluation in Westfield, Ind.
Additionally, EPP, an engineered plastic foam material utilized in the fourth-generation chassis and in molding driver seats, will replace carbon panels on the outsides of the drivers’ thighs.
The road course rear wheel pods have been strengthened to match the ones utilized on ovals. Its shape has not been altered.
A carbon fiber panel attached to the FIA-mandated helmet is required for the season. INDYCAR commissioned Dallara to investigate a steering damper. The hydraulic device built into a steering rack will have its initial test in the near future. Walker said power steering in the future hasn’t been ruled out.