When IndyCar announced a couple years ago that they would have all new cars with a new engine package and chassis, there was excitement due to a critical component missing in American open wheel racing: competition. Starting in 2012, there would be three engine manufacturers and although only one chassis, there would be the option of different aero kits. The IndyCar once again wouldn't be just a spec series with identical cars for all - but would finally have some variety.
The engine competition went as plan - okay, well, sort of. There were three engine manufacturers but only two (Chevrolet & Honda) were serious as Lotus has all but left the series just little more than one-third the way through the season. The other part of the equation was aero kits - essentially the ability to put your own body configuration together plus these parts could come from an array of sources including the engine manufacturers and Dallara, the current chassis builder.
Postponed ... again
But the chassis testing was still going on as the 2012 season approached so it was decided that the aero kits would be put off for a year with costs cited as one of the key reasons. It was agreed amongst everyone involved in IndyCar to delay their introduction but now, it seems that this postponement might be for yet another season (source - SpeedTV).
Chevrolet, Honda and Dallara are said to be ready with these new aero kits and have paid the series an entry fee for participation in the IndyCar aero kit program.
But the team owners are united on this front and Randy Bernard, CEO of IndyCar, has gone along with postponement for now and is trying to be sensitive to the car owners' needs when he said: "We do have issues and part of my job is trying to work with them on cost control and bringing costs down. I don't think that we're taking a position of, 'too bad'. We're taking a position of, 'we need to help you, and we're going to work with you to try to bring those costs down.'" (Source - Autosport)
Small teams in trouble?
Budgets have soared more than first considered due to this being a completely new car. The cost of the aero kits is anticipated to be around $75,000 each. The initial cost for the current chassis' jumped more than $100,000 (some say more than $200,000) per car and as such, the car owner's overhead has been significantly higher than previously expected (source - Race-Week).
The cars have been more expensive to work on and repair than originally projected. The smaller teams are the ones in peril as this point as Chip Ganassi stated: "A lot of these guys (owners) are going to die on the vine before the end of the year if they don't fix that." (Source - Detroit News)
It has been a rocky couple of weeks for IndyCar and Bernard following the huge success at Indy. Nerves are on edge as teams ready for Saturday night's race at Texas Motor Speedway - the sister track to Las Vegas where Dan Wheldon's life was taken in a horrendous crash.
Maybe once the drivers and teams get beyond Texas and things quiet down with what's going on off the track and the action on the track is front and center, business and racing will work together to continue building the series.
Sources - IndyCar
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.