Louis Schwitzer IV unveiled a plaque acknowledging Dallara as winner of the 2014 BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award for its driving simulator during a brief ceremony Dec. 10 at the Dallara IndyCar Factory in Speedway, Ind. Then he traded his pinstripe suit for a firesuit and helmet and took some virtual laps in the multimillion dollar machine on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.
In May, Dallara Automobili head of research and development Andre Toso was presented the BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award that recognizes individuals for innovation and engineering excellence in race car design associated with the Indianapolis 500. The $10,000 award, sponsored by BorgWarner, is presented by the Indiana Section of SAE International. The high-tech U.S. simulator, which opened in May, is a brother to the one at Dallara Automobili in Italy.
The simulator immerses drivers in a virtual race car complete with full controls, active seat belts, 180-degree video screen, Dolby surround-sound system, heat generators and vehicle motion based on laser scans of the corresponding racetrack.
Schwitzer, an engineer and race car driver who won the first auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909, designed the "Marmon Yellow Jacket" engine that powered the Ray Harroun and the Marmon Wasp to victory in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.
His great-grandson said he would be proud of the technology and the simulator's multiple uses to aid motorsports and entities such as police and fire departments and college engineering students.
"His racing career ended in 1912 when my grandfather was born and my great-grandmother told him that he was now retired from racing because he was a father. So his legacy at the Speedway extended into designing components for race cars and working as the safety inspector for decades. His commitment was to the safety of the drivers, so a huge part of the recognition to Dallara was to creating the simulator that will promote driver safety by being able to learn from mistakes without being injured," Schwitzer IV said. "We're so proud to lend our name to such an enterprise and how this simulator can be part of promoting safety in the racing community."
The plaque, made of carbon fiber like the Verizon IndyCar Series and new Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires chassis manufactured by Dallara, will be installed in the two-story Dallara IndyCar Factory simulator room.
"I feel a strong sense of community with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and feel a responsibility, together with Dallara, to continue the strong heritage of Louis Schwitzer and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," Toso said. "We have a strong commitment to quality with all our products and this simulator will be a tool to help race car drivers, teams and others."
Added Dallara U.S. CEO and general manager Stefano de Ponti: "The simulator represents a piece of technology that will serve all our customers. It is important to embrace the history of the Speedway and the future of innovation and technology."