CHAMPCAR/CART: 2007 Panoz DP01 unveiled in San Jose

NEW PANOZ DP01 CHASSIS DESIGNED TO CARRY CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES INTO A FAST FUTURE INDIANAPOLIS (July 29, 2006) -- The Future of Racing was unveiled to the public Friday night as the Panoz DP01 Champ Car made its debut to the racing ...


INDIANAPOLIS (July 29, 2006) -- The Future of Racing was unveiled to the public Friday night as the Panoz DP01 Champ Car made its debut to the racing community.

The DP01 will serve as the exclusive chassis of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford in 2007, becoming the first American-built chassis to compete in the series since 2000.

Replacing the fabled Lolas that have dominated Champ Car in recent years, the Elan Motorsports-built DP01 chassis features the latest in aerodynamic technologies and has allowed the design team to reach its goal of providing a car that runs better in traffic while allowing for closer racing and more passing opportunities.

"Aerodynamically we have broken away from various existing Champ Car features, which have been a product of the existing regulations," said Elan Motorsports Chief Designer Simon Marshall. "We have to create the downforce in a sensible manner that is not as setup critical, and which is less affected by traffic turbulent wakes. (Chief Aerodynamicist) Nick (Alcock) has produced a superb underbody for this car, and an awesome looking topside which should keep the fans (and drivers) excited."

The design incorporates a number of changes to the existing car, including paddle shifters, additional 'sharkfin' elements as well as wing improvements, and a change of the seat angle for the drivers designed to improve driver safety. The Elan Motorsports design team, working in conjunction with Champ Car officials, has created a car that represents the latest in vehicle technology while still featuring the sleek silhouette unique to the Champ Car World Series.

"We were able to maintain the Champ Car look," said Champ Car Technical Director Scot Elkins. "There's a lot of F1 elements to it but it still looks like a Champ Car. The exposed roll hoop, the slope of the engine cover, it's low to the ground, it's a look that the fans will recognize as a Champ Car. One of the key design elements for us was that it look like a Champ Car."

But there is far more than flash to the DP01. More than 20,000 man hours went into the design and construction of the new chassis, which is designed to be faster, lighter and safer than the current Champ Car. The chassis is more than 100 pounds lighter than the current car, but features a number of safety innovations, including a collapsible fuel cell, that will provide even more protection to the drivers.

The DP01 also features such improvements as the addition of an on-board starter, which is designed to lessen caution periods for stalled cars, and paddle shifters replacing the gear shifter. The semi-automatic paddle shifter system is also tied into the throttle system of the turbocharged Ford-Cosworth engine, allowing drivers to downshift without lifting off the throttle, something that is not possible in the current car.

The sharkfin look in the rear of the car aids in downforce, benefiting from a change in the air induction system designed into the DP01. The sidepod radiator inlet allows air to flow completely through the sidepod, providing the airflow that makes the sharkfin more effective.

"It creates downforce without the penalty of drag." Elkins said. "The air would get all bottled up in the current design. We like the feature and feel that it will really help the car."

But while given the chance to create a world-class car from the ground up, Elan and Champ Car also tasked themselves with building a chassis that provided more affordable entry into the series. The cost savings has already attracted new interest in the series, and Elan will be ready to handle the demand.

"One of the requirements for this project was not necessarily to make things cheaper to make, but faster and easier to produce in higher volume and at a higher rate," Marshall said. "Design thinking started around production techniques. The design is still evolving as we move through the prototype and testing phase."

"The 2007 Champ Car was designed with three objectives in mind," said Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven. "First, to increase the excitement for the fans by allowing closer racing and more overtaking. Second, to level the playing field for all teams, which will also increase fan excitement. Third, to make a dramatic decrease in the costs for the teams thereby allowing new teams to join the series. This car achieves all three objectives."


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Kevin Kalkhoven