The long-awaited appearance of IndyCar’s aeroscreen is slotted for the same early January timeframe when teams begin private testing with the new UAK18 bodywork. Original testing goals for the aeroscreen offered by IndyCar’s competition department called for on-track outings to take place before the end of the year.
Under development since 2016, track testing is the final step in the evaluation process for the aeroscreen. After considering a halo-style helmet protection device, IndyCar went with a custom aeroscreen application that has been designed to act as a single solution capable of meeting a driver’s visual needs on ovals and road courses.
“The end of the year is rapidly approaching, and we’re also getting into some weather-related issues in where we can test since a lot of rain and snow is creeping in,” IndyCar competition president Jay Frye told RACER. “So that means we’re looking at a place like Phoenix or somewhere warm after the first of the year, probably around when teams start their testing in January.”
IndyCar engineering director Jeff Horton has led the aeroscreen project. So far, virtual testing in CFD and tests with the aeroscreen installed on Dallara’s driving simulator have been conducted, but putting the clear shield through the paces on a banked oval to look for sightline issues, under the lights to check for glare, and in a road course setting remain on IndyCar’s to-do list.
“There’s no slowdown with it,” Frye added. “There’s just a cadence to how it’s going. Getting the universal body kits done and out to teams was the first step, and the aeroscreen was the second step on our list.”
The latest version of the aeroscreen will be shown to IndyCar drivers next week when they meet with the series for their annual gathering. Frye is leaving open the possibility of making more pre-test adjustments to the screen if drivers highlight areas that would benefit from further development.
“We have a meeting coming up about the next steps,” he said. “We have a drivers meeting early in December where we’ll show them where we’re at with it, and that could affect what happens.”
Frye has been hesitant to commit to using the aeroscreen until it passes all phases of the development and usage criteria set by the series. Once the device has completed the process and driver feedback is received, an answer on if and when aeroscreens will be implemented will be known.