The NTT IndyCar Series has put a few new cockpit cooling measures in place for the Indianapolis 500. It marks the third consecutive event where modifications have been made to reduce cockpit temperatures behind the new aeroscreen driver safety device.
Some of the cooling lessons learned during NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson’s recent IndyCar road course test will be used starting on Wednesday during opening practice for the Indy 500. Other cooling improvements will be held until the series returns to road and street course racing, where a greater need for cockpit temperature reduction exists.
“It was great to have Jimmie helping with testing, because the temperatures in a Cup car’s cockpit are off the charts,”IndyCar president Jay Frye told RACER. “He was a really good, unbiased opinion on back-to-back changes, and one that performed well, that we’ll use for the 500, is larger helmet hoses.
IndyCar allows teams to fit cooling ducts on both sides of the aeroscreen, with one reserved for directing air to a specialized duct atop each driver’s helmet, and the other to a termination point of the team’s choosing. To date, the modestly-sized helmet ducting and hose system has not led to ample airflow into the helmets, and improved cooling is expected with the shift to larger tubing and connection points.
“Jimmie ran a bigger tube and opening to his helmet, and he said that helps, so that’s going to be something they can do; the helmet cooling system is mandatory,” Frye said. “Running the second side duct is still optional.”
Starting at Indy, minimizing the amount of debris entering the cockpit through the forward vent at the base of the aeroscreen is another area of change.
“Teams have the option to create a filtration system into the damper cover,” Frye said.
The final adjustment for Indy will come with the absence of the overhead scoops seen at the most recent race in Iowa. Affixed to the top of the aeroscreens, the pieces will not be needed due to the steady high-speed air being fed into the cockpit through the front and sides.
“The scoops you saw on top of the aeroscreen at Iowa aren’t going to be allowed or needed here,” Frye said. “We’ve not gone 240 miles an hour with one of those on top of the screen, and that’s a lot of pressure to deal with, so since we won’t need them, we told the teams to put them away for Indy.”