The 52nd Schwitzer Award, which recognizes individuals for innovation and engineering excellence in racing technology, was presented Friday to the four men who put their heads together and designed IndyCar’s universal aero kit for 2018.
Dallara engineers Andrea Toso and Antonio Montanari, IndyCar’s Tino Belli and London product designer Chris Beatty were recognized for their innovations in technology and safety.
This year’s version of the DW12 looks more like the traditional Indy car and has performed well on the street and road courses.
“This is great award and it means that it’s been a team effort,” said Toso. “Nowadays engineers cannot do anything by themselves. So you see Tino, you see Chris, Dallara all together. This award is for engineers, provided by engineers, so it’s just in the technical environment.
“The engineers are the unsung heroes. They are under a lot of pressure to comply with a lot of requirements, technical, stylish, performance, crash safety and such. At Dallara, I would say that we are part of a community. I say community like a bus. Someone is driving the bus, this is IndyCar. IndyCar is driving the bus.”
Belli, the longtime IndyCar engineer who is now IndyCar’s director of aerodynamic development, paid tribute to his co-worker and boss as well as the aero kit team.
“I think we have to thank Jay Frye (IndyCar president of competition) and Bill Pappas (VP of engineering and competition) for having the vision and making the vision happen, which is difficult.
“The aero kit was conceived to look fast as well as be fast. Between Dallara, Andrea, Chris Beatty, we did a lot of backwards and forwards with shapes. A lot of credit has to go to the guys in the Dallara wind tunnel, Marco, Benedetto.
“They worked very hard because we were coming up with these shapes which really weren’t necessarily optimized. We then had to play with the shapes to make them hit all the performance criteria, which are difficult criteria to hit.”
Belli also praised the cooperation from the teams and engine manufacturers.
“I think we need to give some credit to our teams. We did the sign-off testing during the season, which made it very difficult for the teams that actually had to do that testing, they’re racing at the same time. Every team that we approached to do anything for us on this project has volunteered and helped in every way. I think that shows the whole team effort. Honda and Chevy, they had to design the intake system and the electronic system for their engines. We made them put their electronics in a very hot part of the car, which was a big challenge for them as well.
“The guys at Dallara really made it all come together right at the very end. They also took on the challenge with a lot of the electronics on the right-hand side of the car, which is chassis electronics. It was a very collaborative effort.”