What on earth is a dome skid, and why is it such a big deal? Well, for one, we haven’t seen the kind of massive airborne crashes at this year’s Indianapolis 500 like we did last year. Racer caught up with polesitter James Hinchcliffe ahead of the race for a quick, clear run-down of IndyCar’s new safety gear.
While many drivers believe the dome skids make the cars harder to drive, they do serve a purpose that was quickly proved after Spencer Pigot’s first big crash during Indianapolis 500 practice. Pigot stayed—as some hokey commercials would put it—“grounded to the ground.”
The dome skids as well as the clever NASCAR-style rear beam flaps that extend in a spin keep cars stay shiny side up much better this year, per Racer. The dome-shaped skid plate produces more downforce when a car spins out, and the flaps pop up in a spin to add even more downforce and spoil lift-producing airflow over the rear of the car.
Additionally, several tethers have been added to keep parts attached to cars and hopefully prevent tragic circumstances like at Pocono last year, where a nose cone struck and killed Justin Wilson. The nose cone, beam wings and wheel pods all received tethers this year, reports Racer.
So far, it looks like a worthy tradeoff. I’d much rather hear complaints about cars being harder to drive than more reports of overturned cars.