IRL: Chassis specifications finalized for 2003-2005

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2002 - Guidelines emphasizing improved driver safety and quality car construction highlight the specifications being distributed to chassis manufacturers who will produce the third generation of Indy Racing League ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2002 - Guidelines emphasizing improved driver safety and quality car construction highlight the specifications being distributed to chassis manufacturers who will produce the third generation of Indy Racing League car.

These new chassis specifications, mated with the engine specifications announced in April 2001, will create a competition package that will be in place for a minimum of three years, through 2005. Consistent rules stability is a trademark of the Indy Racing League and enables its teams and manufacturers to establish solid marketing and business strategies.

"The new generation of Indy Racing League cars will be the most technically advanced in terms of car construction and driver safety ever to be used in open-wheel, oval racing," said Tony George, president and CEO of the Indy Racing League. "Through cooperation with our manufacturers, we will be able to introduce this new equipment next year while adhering to the league's principles of strict cost controls, which results in close competition."

Indy Racing League officials have received letters of intent from its two existing manufacturers - Dallara and G Force - and have had discussions with additional manufacturers who intend to produce chassis for the 2003 season.

Safety Is Catalyst For Change
Despite having a formula that produces superior oval-track competition on speedways of every shape and size, the Indy Racing League is moving forward in the production of a new generation of car. Safety is the most prominent reason for the changes in the car design.

"Increased fan support and promoter interest validates the Indy Racing League's current competition package," said Brian Barnhart, vice president of operations for the Indy Racing League. "We could have easily frozen the rules package for the next few seasons and continued to put on exciting, competitive races. But with the data we continually record from crashes and other tests, we are confident a new generation of chassis can be built that will be safer and stronger, yet still provide the level of competition for which the league is known."

Barnhart noted the overall appearance and aerodynamics of the new cars will be consistent with the current 2000-2002 package.

The following are changes in the 2003 chassis that will enhance driver safety:

*The distance between the pedal bulkhead and front bulkhead will be increased by a minimum of 3 inches, moving the driver back.

*Side pods must maintain a minimum width of 60 inches along a greater distance.

*Energy-absorbent materials will be introduced for driver leg protection.

*Front suspension mounting points must have a bulkhead directly behind them.

*Aluminum honeycomb core used in chassis construction must conform to a minimum core density.

*Car weight will be reduced to lessen impact mass.

*A minimum chassis length will be established.

In another driver-related safety requirement in 2003, the driver must be able to undo the safety belts, remove the steering wheel and exit the car in less than five seconds.

Chassis designs built for the 2003 season will also undergo rigorous impact and load tests that will meet or exceed FIA standards. The Indy Racing League has specified the following changes in those mandatory tests:

*Increase side load on nose push-off test.
*Increase energy on first nose impact test.
*Increase energy on second nose impact test.
Chassis must not incur damage during nose impact tests.
*Increase applied load during roll hoop test.
*Increase side intrusion absorbsion levels.
*Introduce impact test and side load test on new rear crash structure.

A new shorter gears-forward transmission is being introduced, which will enhance safety measures at the rear of the car. The shorter gearbox will allow for a more effective rear crash structure, similar to the current attenuator. To stabilize costs, the new transmission assembly will use many of the internal components from the current transmission.

Mounting points for the cables that are part of the Suspension and Wheel Energy Management System (SWEMS) will be integrated into the car design, and minimum sizes for the mountings have been established.

Chevrolet, Infiniti, Toyota To Produce Engines

Engine specifications that maintain the Indy Racing League's founding principle of providing owners, drivers and manufacturers the opportunity to race in a cost-controlled environment that breeds close competition were publicly announced in April 2001.

Manufacturers will be allowed to build engines for Indy Racing competitors if proposals are submitted and approved before the April 1, 2002, deadline. To date, Chevrolet, Infiniti and Toyota have submitted proposals.

Relatively unchanged from the 2000-2002 package, the new Indy Racing League rules require purpose-built racing engines to be submitted by manufacturers. Engines will continue to be 3.5-liter, 32-valve dual-overhead cam, normally aspirated V8s. The minor changes in the new rules will create a smaller, lighter engine package.

Partnerships With Manufacturers Continue To Strengthen
George, Barnhart and several key Indy Racing League technical and competition staff members recently completed a six-day European trip, meeting with existing and new chassis, engine and transmission manufacturers. Technical Director Phil Casey and Infiniti Pro Series Executive Director Roger Bailey also accompanied George and Barnhart on the European trip.

Indy Racing League Technical Consultant Les Mactaggart, based in England, also joined the group. Mactaggart's year-round presence in Europe enables the league to react quickly to requests and concerns from its overseas manufacturers.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony George , Roger Bailey , Brian Barnhart