The NTT IndyCar Series has started the process of sketching its next-generation chassis to determine what they want it to look like when the time comes to retire Dallara’s aging DW12.
“We’re doing it now,” IndyCar president Jay Frye told RACER, who also confirmed the Italian race car constructor will continue to produce the series’ next spec chassis. “Dallara has been a great partner and we love working with them. What we’re doing now is like we did when we updated the car with the UAK18 bodywork. Their team in Italy and Chris Beatty in England who works with Dallara, were just drawing things on the board and asking, ‘What about this, what about that; could this be lower? We want this, we don’t want that,’ and that’s where the UAK18 started. That’s how it starts.
“So, we’ve started that again, with them thinking about a new car, and our technical team is also involved again, working collaboratively like we always do, and have these very talented people sketching it.”
With a new hybrid engine package coming for the 2023 season, the series has a reason to get a head start on conceptualizing how the replacement for the current car, which debuted in 2012, might be improved in the areas of looks — with the aeroscreen fully integrated into the design, safety and performance.
The upcoming change in technology, with the new 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6s coming from Chevy and Honda that utilize kinetic energy recovery systems, is expected to add a meaningful increase to each team’s annual operating budget. With the amplified costs in mind, IndyCar wrote the new engine rules to ensure the hybrid powerplants can bolt directly into the existing DW12 chassis, thereby pushing the need to buy new cars back until 2024 or 2025.
With Dallara’s old war horse acting as a stop-gap solution, IndyCar will press ahead with whatever the next chassis will be called — maybe a DW24 or DW25 — and Frye says it will keep going in the same direction as the UAK18 era with sleek lines that connote speed.
“We’re asking ourselves how we can do some things a little differently, how does the car evolve, but there won’t be wholesale changes to what the shape of the car looks like,” he explained. “In ’23, economics matter, so it’s more likely to look at ’24 or ’25 for the new stuff to come together. And we’ve got a lot of horsepower coming, so think of that. What does the horsepower do?
“Well, maybe it needs a new front and rear wing. Those are the kind of things that we’re still sorting through. That’s where it’s an aesthetic change, but we might have to change it because of the new needs with performance. It goes hand in hand. We’ve got some time to figure everything out, but we can’t stand still, so there’s a lot of things on the table for us to decide on what we’re doing and when we’re doing it with the new car.”