Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Fundamental DeltaWing Question

Someone (I think it was either Bowlby or Chip) said when pitching the DeltaWing concept that their idea is not to be the manufacturer, but rather let others build the chassis to the set of principles outlined by the DeltaWing program.  As an example, they said that if Audi wanted to get involved in IndyCar racing, they could use whatever engine design they want (presumably because it won't be a stressed chassis member, and fuel flow is regulated anyway) and have whoever they want build the car (I believe Swift was used in the example, but I'm not positive).  As long as that car fits the DeltaWing criteria, they'd be good to go.

The single biggest question that I think will determine whether fans accept the DeltaWing program is how strict those criteria are.  Are they suggesting that they will design a car, and then any number of builders can manufacture the various parts to the original specs?  That means no matter who is building the cars, they will all look basically like the car we saw yesterday, except for some subtle team tweaking.

Or is the DeltaWing concept instead a much looser set of criteria that anyone can build a car around?  For example, as long as it is light, low-drag, doesn't use the engine as a stressed chassis member, is based around a fuel-flow-limited engine, and somehow shrouds the wheels to prevent interlocking, is it good to go?  Can Swift design and build an entirely new and different car, and if it conforms to these guidelines, it'll be allowed to run?

This is the biggest question mark with this program, because in one case, all the talk of openness and innovation is just marketing horse-hockey, and in the other, the DeltaWing project is indeed an amazing hot-bed of innovation, and the idea that could propel IndyCar racing into a new golden age.  And (perhaps unfortunately), I think it really is that binary a question.

So: Is it open, or is it closed?

1 comment:

The SpeedGeek said...

There you go. Might I be able to invite you to send these questions to Curt Cavin, for discussion on tonight's Trackside show? I'm going to summarize the stuff that I put in my comment to your last post, and send it in as well, so maybe he'll be able to direct one of our set of questions to Ben Bowlby or Chip Ganassi tonight.