Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull views the upcoming test his team will conduct for IndyCar with its new windscreen in a different light than some who’ve weighed in on the driver protection device.
“People call it a windscreen,” he said. “I think the whole purpose of this device is to deflect objects. I refer to it on my own more as a deflector than a windshield or windscreen.”
The majority of the feedback IndyCar and the CGR team have received so far on the looks of the deflector have been positive. Hull, like his driver Scott Dixon who will test the device today at Phoenix International Raceway, is keen to see how it performs on the high-speed one-mile oval.
“All of us in this building, and I think it represents everyone in motor racing, want to enhance the safety of an Indy car…but we want them to look like Indy cars,” he said. “This is two years in the making. We don’t honestly know what’s going to happen. Simulation only tells you so much. You have to take it out of the beaker and take it onto the racetrack and find out how it’s going to work.”
More technical details about the deflector, which is made from a plastic material made by PPG named Opticor that is used for windshields and canopies on commercial and military jets, were revealed during Hull’s visit to the Week In IndyCar podcast on Wednesday.
“People, by the pictures, probably don’t realize how thick this is,” he added. “They call it an ‘advanced transparency material,’ and it’s four-tenths of an inch thick (10.2mm). The angle of it is 25 degrees, currently. If the vision needs to be improved, they can probably change the angle. It’s a pretty strong piece.
“If we’re successful with our test, IndyCar will take it and work on the other aspects of how it protects the driver, how it mounts to the chassis, what its deflection rate actually is. I know they’ve already done some of those items. It’s well mounted, very secure on the car.”
Later in the conversation, Hull drew parallels to some of the Indy 500 cars from yesteryear – a few he saw at the IMS Museum dating back to the 1950s – that had windscreens, and observed that the purpose for the devices has changed from directing air around a driver’s helmet to acting as a protective unit. Provided the testing with Dixon reaches a positive outcome, he’d welcome IndyCar’s deflector into competition once it’s ready.
“We’re invested in IndyCar racing and the safety advancements that come along for the cars,” he said. “You can replace the car; you can’t replace a driver. If this windscreen can save one person’s life, or allow that person to step into the spare car or race the next weekend, it’s done its job. Yes, it has to look aesthetically good and work in all conditions, but that’s secondary to the fact that it needs to hopefully save the driver at some point in time.”
Follow the progress of the maiden deflector test on RACER.com starting Thursday afternoon.