Is This The 2012 Indy Car?

2010 was originally set to be the last year of competition for the aging Dallara IndyCar chassis. Political turmoil has postponed the changeover, however, and the IRL is currently evaluating its options. This car is part of Swift Engineering's proposal.

The Indy Racing League has had a tough couple of years. Rising costs, shrinking TV audiences, and the very public CART battle have left the series on somewhat unstable ground. Its star drivers have a bad habit of defecting to greener pastures (see Hornish/Patrick/NASCAR, etc.), and its spec car is neither dramatic nor particularly inspiring to watch run. In a nutshell, the IRL is floundering, a series in search of a soul.

Plans to revamp the league have been underway for some time, but concrete results have yet to appear. The current car — a dumpy-looking spec chassis built by Italian manufacturer Dallara and powered by a Honda V-8 — is one of the areas targeted for change. Several meetings between IRL officials and potential engine suppliers took place in 2009, and chassis proposals have been recieved from manufacturers like Lola, Dallara, and the Chip Ganassi-backed Delta Wing. Exact specifications are still up in the air, but the engine package has reportedly been narrowed down to a vague set of requirements: a displacement under two liters, no more than four valves per cylinder, and allowable direct injection and turbocharging.

The car you see here is part of a proposal by American racing-car manufacturer Swift Engineering, one designed to help reinvigorate the series while offering fan- and driver-friendly qualities. (Swift has a long history of race-car construction; the firm essentially reinvented Formula Ford in the early 1980s and is responsible for the current Toyota Atlantic chassis.)

There isn't much available in the way of specifics, but Swift's proposal appears to offer two separate body styles — a low-drag setup for ovals and a downforce-heavy arrangement for road courses — and an exposed driveline. Will it or one of its competitors be enough to jolt some life back into the IRL? Only time will tell.

View gallery »

[PaddockTalk]