The Delta Wing chassis concept is set to be unveiled next week at the Chicago Auto Show. And now, with no fanfare, we have (leaked?) images of the 2012 Dallara concept(s). I say concept(s) because apparently there are three of them. To wit:
The first car (we'll call it Maroon) looks the most like the current Dallara IndyCar chassis. It looks to me like someone took the current car, smoothed out a lot of edges, and pulled the airbox. It also reminds me of the ill-fated Falcon IRL chassis. I don't dislike it, but it also doesn't set my blood a-boil, if you catch my drift. It's ... nice.
The second car (we'll call it Yellow) seems like the safest pick, stylistically. It's different enough from the current car that there's a clear and obvious change. It's also similar enough to not be jarring. It does look a little bit like a Panoz DP-01 with an airbox, or like a World Series by Renault car - in other words, it's a single-seat open-wheel formula car from the last 25 years. It you polled fans, assigning points for first, second, and third place votes, the Yellow car might win on the strength of lots of second place votes.
The third car (we'll call it Red) is definitely the most radical pick of the bunch. To be frank, it looks like what I thought the Delta Wing chassis might look like. It was initially the one I liked the least, but as I've looked at them all more closely (you might say I've been gazing longingly at them - yes, I'm deeply troubled, and yes, I'm OK with that), it's grown on me I think the aero pods ahead of the front wheels threw me off at first. One immediate concern is that there doesn't seem to be much in the way of crush space on either side of the driver, but I would imagine that Dallara thought of that.
There are a few key common elements across the three chassis. The shrouding around the rear wheels make it far tougher to lock wheels on an oval, which is one of the things that car trigger a truly spectacular wreck on an oval. The wheels interlocking is what can send a car airborne, and once up they can really fly. So clearly that was a priority. The Red car in particular really blocks the wheels off. While none of the three copies the "rolling billboard" model of NASCAR, they also present a better sponsor logo surface. Maroon adds the dorsal fin while retaining the flat sidepods, Yellow carries a sloping sidepod all the way up to the cockpit opening, and Red has flat sidepods and a seemingly very broad top surface that could sport some really grabbing graphics.
My take? Of these three, Yellow and Red go back and forth as my favorite. I could go for either. I want to like the Red car, but I'm just not sure. My dream scenario? Those three cars, with major sponsors on the sides, as the front row of the 2012 Indy 500. Unfortunately, that's just never going to happen.
Oh, and one caveat. These are supposedly legitimate - TrackSide Online has them up, and they are usually very good and checking this stuff out. That said, who knows? Somebody might be punking IndyCar fans. So there it is ...
Now bring on the Delta Wing! And the Swift and Lola concepts! And even better, let's see them all race!