ABOVE: Jeff Horton, IndyCar Director of Engineering/Safety, installs a windscreen on the 2018 Indy car.
IndyCar’s prototype windscreen makes use of a material found in aerospace applications and as windshields and cabin windows on commercial airliners and private jets.
Made by PPG, its “Opticor advanced transparency material” is also believed to be used for the cockpit canopy on modern jet fighters, which could explain the similarity in looks between the device revealed by IndyCar on Friday and those seen protecting military pilots in the air.
Designed for cruising speeds between 500-600mph and the ability to act as a deflector for bird strikes at more than twice the speed a Chevy- or Honda-powered Indy car can achieve, the choice of Opticor as the material for the new windscreen would appear to be based on shared safety criteria.
RACER understands that while initial ballistic testing has been done with IndyCar’s windscreen, more robust firing of objects at the device will take place in the months ahead. The known deflective properties of Opticor, now used at the lower speed it will experience in the Verizon IndyCar Series, could explain why an extensive series of ballistic tests have not been carried out so far with the windscreen.
Additional testing in adverse conditions, including rain, will be part of future tests, and IndyCar’s windscreen will also make use of tearoff strips, made to a larger size than those employed by drivers with their helmets, to pull away water, oil, and rubber debris that will build up on the device.
Although the windscreen has not been shown in place on a fully assembled Indy car, the series is said to have focused rather heavily on the aesthetics of the device in order to complement the new, appealing bodywork all cars will carry in 2018.
Testing of the windscreen on Feb. 8 at Phoenix International Raceway will be broken into three phases. Set within the test day for IndyCar’s rookie drivers on the one-mile oval, the series will clear the track at approximately 4 p.m. and put four-time series champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon to work in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda for 5-10 laps in full sunlight.
Rookie will resume testing on their own before Dixon returns for another 5-10 laps at approximately 5:30 p.m. to gather feedback on how running at dusk affects his ability to see through the windscreen at 190mph or more.
The final outing is planned for roughly 7:30 p.m. with the same number of laps reserved for full darkness, albeit under the lights at PIR.