Verizon IndyCar Series Says Future Starts Now With New Rides, Marketing, Attitude
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 08:10PM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Auto Racing, Indy 500, IndyCar, auto racing, sports marketing

Special to NYSJ Sports-Entertainment Business News Service

January 17, 2018:
Describing it as the “result of more than two years of discussion, design, simulation and testing,” executives and drivers have officially unveiled the car that will “rule the roads, streets and ovals in the Verizon IndyCar Series for 2018 and beyond.”

The focus was on the new universal aerodynamic bodywork kit that will be affixed to the Dallara IR-12 chassis and used by all competitors in the 17-race 2018 season.

Although the design was much discussed, disseminated and dissected, it was not shared with the public until an IndyCar event at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week.

The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule consists of 17 races, starting with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11 (ABC), and runs through the Grand Prix of Sonoma Sept. 16 (NBCSN).

In between, audiences will see the new IndyCar vehicles compete at races including the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 15, NBCSN), the IndyCar Grand Prix (May 12, ABC) and the iconic 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on (May 27, ABC).

The new season and design are being supporting by a multi-platform campaign, “The Future Starts Now,” including TV, Internet and social media. An intro spot shows high-power images played out to the pounding beat of "My Name is Thunder" by the Bloody Beetroots + Jet.

"This may be the public premiere, but there's been a lot of talk and we're having trouble finding a critic,” Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent for IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said during the unveiling event at the NBIAS.

“It looks great and we believe that the changes that have been made will provide for great racing, more passing, more exciting racing. So we expect that to be great news for the ongoing growth of the series and we're looking forward to seeing this beautiful car in action."

IndyCar executives said their main goal was to ”add downforce for higher cornering speeds — much of it generated by winglets and other aero attachments to the top of the race car.”

With the new design, the universal kit “produces less downforce overall and most of it from the underwing on the bottom of the car.”

The universal kit was “reverse-designed to start with an aesthetically pleasing look — sleek, bold and reminiscent of fan favorites from the 1980s and 1990s. From there, the aerodynamic and safety objectives were achieved without sacrificing the appealing appearance," said IndyCar.

According to Josef Newgarden, who won the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship driving a Team Penske Chevrolet, “We've tried to check the boxes on everything you need to with this car to make sure it's going to function well and give us what we were looking for from a design standpoint,

"IndyCar is really looking to deliver on big promises. As you can see, it's bolder, it's more daring and really, we believe it has improved aerodynamics that are going to help the racing product tremendously, so I'm looking forward to that probably the most. We believe it's going to be faster, we believe it's going to be safer, it's going to provide better racing like we've talked about,” said Newgarden.

Among the new features, per IndyCar, are “smaller front and rear wings with fewer pieces that could create more debris in on-track incidents, a redesigned under-tray that will improve air flow underneath the car while helping diminish the wake of turbulent air behind the car, thus making it easier for cars to approach and attempt to pass a car in front.”

Executives also focused on a “sleek lower engine cover, leaner rear tire ramps and improved safety with reinforced sidepods and moving the radiators farther forward to absorb side impacts.

According to Newgarden, the “removal of the rear wheel guards and other parts from the previous kit shifted the weight balance slightly forward, which will improve handling.”

"The design has really been clear on what we're looking for," Newgarden said during the event. "We want it to be an incredible-looking Indy car. We want people to come back to the IndyCar Series and love what we're producing from an aesthetic standpoint, but the message that we really want to push is that our racing product is going to be the best on the planet.

"Speaking as a driver, I don't think you're going to get a better race car out there to drive as far as an open-wheel car goes. You're really going to have a great racing product."

Mario Andretti, whose 52 wins rank second on the all-time Indy car chart (behind A.J. Foyt's 67) said that the redesign was as much a result of current attitudes as much as safety.

”Our audiences today are more sophisticated than ever and they want more and more from us as far as the product, as far as action on the track, overtaking and so forth,” said Andretti. “We have to give it to them because that's what we like to do, ultimately. I think this is the best way to achieve it.

“This thing is beautiful as it is. It's just going back to what the pure open-wheel, single-seater should be."

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