What exactly are IndyCar’s new aero kits about?

On July 14, 2010, IndyCar announced a new car that would debut in 2012 to replace what had become the de facto car to race in IndyCar racing: a 2003 Dallara powered by a non-turbocharged Honda engine.

The new car was going to be a safety cell (the “cage,” which protects the driver) produced by Dallara at its Indianapolis factory that would allow other manufacturers to create body kits to give the cars their own aerodynamic profile while being powered by a newer, more powerful turbocharged engine.

The new car was tested by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon and was subsequently named for Wheldon after his fatal accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October 2011. The DW-12 had one stock body style for the 2012-14 seasons that changed depending on whether the series was running at a road course/street circuit/short oval or at a large oval.

However, the two engine manufacturers (Chevrolet and Honda) have each come up with their own aero kits which give the cars more grip and speed on the track.

The kits include new front wings, side pods, engine covers and rear wheel guards. Both have taken different approaches on designing each piece of bodywork.

Starting from the front and moving toward the rear of the car, the differences are subtle, yet easily identifiable.

The outer side fences on the front wings are a lot larger on the Honda kit than the Chevy kit, while Chevy only has a three-plane front wing compared to Honda’s four.

Moving onto the engine cover, the Honda has a small fin at the top of the bodywork while the Chevy does not.

Heading to the rear of the car, the aerodynamics in front of the rear wheels is also different as Honda incorporated a couple of smaller additional winglets in front of the rear tires while Chevy has a smoother profile. Behind the rear wheels, Honda has a larger winglet surface area than the Chevy kit, which has smoother body lines.

Will they give a car a particular edge? That will play itself out over the course of the season.

Christopher DeHarde