Support growing for new IndyCar chassis in tandem with hybrid powerplant

Penske Entertainment

Support growing for new IndyCar chassis in tandem with hybrid powerplant

IndyCar

Support growing for new IndyCar chassis in tandem with hybrid powerplant

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MIKE SHANK, MEYER SHANK RACING: “Right now I’m really torn on this. On one hand I really appreciate what IndyCar has done with the spreading out the costs. I can’t tell you how much it helps. I applaud IndyCar a million times over, but on the other hand, this car weighs nearly 2000 pounds now in hybrid form.

“It’s 10, 11, 12 seasons old, and I think that since a new car’s going to come fairly soon, we should all bite the bullet and get a car that’s optimized for these systems and stop scabbing more stuff onto an old car. The financial model is spreading asset costs over time, and for us, we’re in deep enough now that we own four chassis.

Some owners are cautious about the initial cost of a new chassis, but believe that a clean slate makes sense in the longer term. Phillip Abbott/Motorsport Images

“It won’t be fun. It will be painful. But it’s also rapidly approaching the time where we must think about getting a new car done. I picked up that chunk of lead that went into our car at the Speedway, and man, it’s 120 pounds. That’s like having a body in the back end of the car.

“So listen, we all have the same bullet to swallow. The safety stuff that we have, I wouldn’t trade it, and the hybrid stuff that’s coming, I wouldn’t trade it. But at some point we’ve got to think about what we’re putting it in.”

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT: “I know IndyCar is trying really hard on keeping the budgets as far down as they can, and it’s a tough thing. Nobody knows exactly what it’s going to cost us to do this. It would be good to know what that total cost is going to be, but the reality is we get surprises every year.

“We’re in IndyCar’s ears all the time on what they’re doing and how it’s all going to work, but in the end, it’s probably not going to be what we really want. Whatever they end up doing with the timing on the costs, it’s going to be something that we just have to figure out how to make it work.”

ED CARPENTER, ED CARPENTER RACING: “You know, it’s something that we’ve all been thinking about. But we haven’t received direct questions from the series as to how the costs [of doing both the chassis and engine at once] would affect us. Have we seen changes like that have an impact on car counts in the past? Yes. We’re definitely in a phase we’ve seen before, nearing the end of a [chassis] cycle where I think it does make it easier for car counts to swell.

“So I’m sure a new engine, new chassis, even in consecutive years, would have an effect from a car count perspective, I think it’ll pull it back. I don’t know that every team out there will be able to absorb the capital increase that’s required to upgrade a fleet.

“We’ve heard some verbal estimates from IndyCar what they’re expecting the costs to be, but we still haven’t seen exact numbers and specifics and there’s always a little more that comes with it than you think. Regardless, it’s a big investment, whether you’re running one or four cars. Doing new engine and new car investments on top of each other will put a strain on the paddock, I would think.

“But whatever it ends up being, it’s something that we need to know quickly. Every team’s situation is different, because as you’re looking to sign drivers, do extensions, sign sponsors, do their extensions, with big financial changes like that, you may have to negotiate differently or make decisions differently. We need to be thinking down the road with how we’re going to execute our plans.”

ZAK BROWN, ARROW MCLAREN SP: “I’m always sympathetic to the finances of any racing team. However, I think the current chassis has served us extremely well for a long period of time and it’s inevitable that a new chassis should debut sooner rather than later. And I think timing it with a new engine creates a lot of excitement for the race fans, and as an opportunity to take IndyCar racing to another level and build on the great momentum that we have.

“You’re going to have to do it eventually, and clearly, IndyCar is in a very healthy state with a 26-car grid. I think costs have been extremely well managed, and I think no team is ever going to be excited about substantial capital expense hits, but thinking in today’s world, there are different scenarios and financial incentives that anything from the series to the chassis manufacturer to the city of Indianapolis in the past could get behind.

“So I think if he went to our partner Dallara and put together a brief about creating some financing opportunities in place for teams to pay over multiple years, I would think that’s pretty achievable.”

MIKE HULL, CHIP GANASSI RACING: “I think a staggered plan was probably okay until they decided to introduce the hybrid. Before that, it was just a regular non-hybrid engine they were bringing out. You think about what’s happened here, and the plan was a steady movement toward a new chassis in ’24 or ‘25. With the safety enhancements they’ve done to the car, the hybrid was never really on the table. Now the hybrid’s on the table, and yeah, the people that have tested the car so far are not satisfied with it. We did test the car in Mid-Ohio, and I wouldn’t say it was really great.

“We’ve been told to expect to make a $250,000 investment in modifying each chassis we own and in buying all the parts that are specific to the hybrid specification. And that does not include the cost of labor. That’s the minimum cost to expect per chassis. Well, when all is said and done, we’ve got 10 Dallara DW12s to update to work with this new hybrid concept. We’ve got 10 cars, that’s eight runners and two spares. We’re looking at $2.5 million just to do the updates on the 10 cars we currently have.

“If they come up with brand-new cars for us to buy, say 10 cars at $400,000, that’s a $4 million investment for Chip Ganassi Racing. So I don’t know where you draw the line financially on this thing, and yes, it’s more money if we have to buy new cars instead of spending on the old cars.

“Maybe I’m seeing this differently than some others see it, but if we’re having to spend $2.5 million already, no matter what, to keep the DW12s going a few more years, how far is it really to keep going to $4 million and buy 10 new cars that have a much longer lifetime ahead of them?

“Are we in this thing for the long-term? Are we in this thing for the short term? If we’re truly here in IndyCar racing with a long-term mentality, then you need to spend money in the right places, and the right place isn’t investing millions of dollars into cars that are ready to be put out to pasture. The answer here is looking at us right in the face.”

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