MADISON, Ill. – IndyCar is putting a new, open-wheel design to the test this season. You'll be able to see it up close and in person this summer at the Bommarito Automotive Group 500
"It’s kind of got a historical feel to it kind of like what IndyCar used to look like, but it’s very forward thinking with all the latest and greatest electronics,” said Jay Frye, president of competition operations at IndyCar.
Frye said his team worked on the design for the past two years and the data shows it's outperforming the old model.
"There's been all kinds of passing throughout the entire field, which is part of the byproduct of this car,” he said. “It's got more downforce on the bottom, there's less parts and pieces, so that should make less cautions for debris and that sort of thing."
But it's not just about the need for speed. Designers also want this model to be safer.
"There are crush zones on the sides so that we have less of a chance of the car coming in on the driver if they have a side impact,” said Tim Baughman, manager of the AMR IndyCar safety team.
Owner and former driver Sam Schmidt said he's seeing the impact of the new cars out on the pavement as his team climbs in the rankings, as they rev up for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 and Gateway's oval track.
"We saw in Phoenix—the one-mile oval—it encouraged more passing and, obviously, the finish at Phoenix, the last 10 laps were the most exciting we've seen all year," Schmidt said.
And no IndyCar would be complete without the rubber that meets the road. Workers started making the tires for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 back in the beginning of May.
“In a place like Gateway, we’ll have about 12,000 to 13,000 tires. It's a long race, so there's a lot of tires that are involved here,” said Cara Adams, chief engineer for Bridgestone America’s Motorsports.