Fans of NASCAR spent years preparing for the “Car of Tomorrow.” During the 2007 season, as NASCAR worked to integrate the “COT” and teams tested the new design, analysts would remind the viewers watching at home what changes were coming with the Car of Tomorrow. The supposed improvements did little to instill confidence in viewers as it was always in reference to whichever car was in last place, struggling to keep up with the field, or out of commission before the final lap.
In February 2008, the Pittsburgh Tribune recorded video of the Car of Tomorrow chassis as presented by a NASCAR tech inspector. The inspector listed the benefits of the new chassis as safety and less costly. Safety meaning that the wider, taller design was created to make it easier to pull drivers out of the car in the case of a severe accident and keeping costs down not just from less-costly frame rails, but by requiring the rails to stay within 1/4 inch of NASCAR’s regulations. In other words, keeping teams on a level playing field.
NASCAR’s intention was to improve performance and competition with the Car of Tomorrow, but fan reviews state otherwise. So in July, when Randy Bernard announced new engine regulations and a new chassis design, who could blame race fans for airing concern that the changes would have the opposite effect intended? Fortunately, the impact was crystal clear- that rather than move the IZOD IndyCar Series closer to a spec series, we were moving even further away. The changes emphasize the value of competition and collaboration as the direct sources of innovation. Similar to NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow, the new chassis, produced by Dallara, will reduce costs for teams. It is also designed to be lighter and safer than the current chassis.
But then came the engine manufacturers. Helping to fuel the competition and joining Honda in 2012 will be Lotus and Chevrolet. Most exciting? Each of these engine suppliers not only represent a different continent, but they also bring unique memories from racing history along with their names.
And don’t forget about the aero kits. Teams will be able to personalize the product they place on the track with custom aero kits produced by Lotus, Chevrolet, and Dallara. The diversity in these kits will help avoid a situation similar to NASCAR’s announcement in early 2010 that spoilers would be reintroduced to their cars to help improve races and, admittedly, return to a more-comfortable look on the cars.
In the coming year, keep an eye on IndyCar.com/2012 for updates and announcements on what changes are coming to the IZOD IndyCar Series and voice your opinion on how these changes will affect the quality of racing for the fans. Submit your own design for the Future IndyCar or connect with us on Facebook and on Twitter and tell us what you think of the IZOD IndyCar Series efforts to increase competition and improve the quality of racing on the track, you might even see your comment right back here on the IndyCar blog. What other announcements are you hoping to hear during the 2011 season to make for a better 2012 season?