The IRL Izod IndyCar Series wants to replace its fleet by 2012 and is searching for the next lucky car. It is an unfortunate reality of the current economic situation that the intention is to keep IndyCar as a single-chassis series. Before you complain about this, I?d like to remind you that the only multiple-chassis open-wheel series in the world is Formula One, where annual budgets exceed the Gross Domestic Product of Dominica.
The concepts presented range in quality from okay-ish to sins against taste. The most notorious sinner is the so-called Delta Wing project that features a very narrow front track, a very wide rear track, and the wing from Val Kilmer?s Batmobile. Most of the other concepts resemble inoffensive formula cars. Recently I was presented with a survey via IndyCar.com asking for my opinion as to which of the concepts I like best. It is at this point I wish to remind everyone that the first car every designed by a focus group is the Edsel.
You may be wondering why I call this entry Project Camel. An old joke claims that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Each member of said committee wants to place his own twist on what is the final product?s purpose, but no one considers how ugly this will make the end product.
Naturally I have my own vision (to borrow a word from Tony George). My vision is a two-phase plan where phase one can be enacted without phase two.
The driver will be contained in a non-stressed carbon fiber safety cell. This cell will act only as a cockpit and will protect the driver in a crash. It will have no bearing on the performance of the car. The rest of the car?s chassis will be made of tubular steel and will be completely free to any design provided it can fit the safety cell.
These days, a carbon fiber cell is necessary to the safety of a driver, but it?s too expensive for the common person to produce. A one-size-fits-all safety device answers all of the questions about surviving crashes while keeping the cars inexpensive.
The new cars will have the engine located in front of the driver. The car will have no wings, splitters, diffusers, or other downforce producing devices. The undertray will be flat. The driver will sit slightly offset to the left of the vehicle?s center and the fuel and oil tanks will be positioned to the driver?s right. The vehicle will have side-pods to prevent wheel-to-wheel contact. The body will be limited to a set of box-like regulations similar to those enforced for Formula One and may be of any material.
The vehicle will weigh no less than 775kg (1750lbs) and the wheelbase will be between 115 and 120 inches. The car will have an onboard starter with a minimum battery capacity (measured by Cold Cranking Amps) with a minimum cable gauge connecting the battery to the starter motor. The control arms may be changed to move the vehicle?s center of gravity left and right to enhance (or compensate for) the offset driver?s ballast.
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