IndyCar had its most recent chassis refresh with the introduction of the Dallara DW-12 in 2012 which, as of next week, will have been a decade ago. The previous generation chassis, the Dallara IR-03 was pushed into service in — as you might suspect — 2003, and served until 2011. By 2011 the IR-03 (later referred to as IR-05) was feeling quite long in the tooth, so it makes sense that this current DW-12 chassis feels as though it has been with the sport since the time of the dinosaurs.
And with today’s two-sided multi-year contract renewal between IndyCar and Dallara, I don’t expect to see a totally new chassis for quite some time. Dallara built a factory in Speedway, Indiana to build these cars, as well as supply other North American series, so it wasn’t really a surprise that Indy and series boss Roger Penske would choose to extend the contract. It’s slightly a bummer that no talk has even begun about making visual and safety updates to the chassis, however.
There have been three “generations” of aerokit for the car, including the weird 2015-17 “manufacturer aerokit” era which saw Chevrolet and Honda building their own aero. That ended in 2018, however, and both manufacturers were forced to run the same “universal” aerokit. Personally, I liked the differentiation between the two manufacturers, but it clearly turned into an aero war for a couple of years and the series wanted to kill off the spending increase of individual aero.
Dallara has been building chassis for IndyCar for 26 seasons, though it wasn’t the spec chassis supplier until the IR-03 bowed. There are current IndyCar fans that have never seen a race without a Dallara in it. Hell, there are IndyCar fans that have never seen a race with anything but a Dallara in it. Technically the 2008 Long Beach Grand Prix was run with Panoz DP01 chassis, as that was the year the Indy Racing League took over Champ Car, but does that really count? Anyway, aside from that one anomaly, it’s been all Dallara all the time.
“Dallara is a tremendous partner and instrumental in everything we do on the racetrack,” IndyCar President Jay Frye said. “An important part of the success and growth of the NTT IndyCar Series can be directly traced to Dallara’s collaboration with our entire paddock. This extension provides IndyCar and its teams continuity and a stable platform as we look well into the future.”
As much as I don’t want to see IndyCar devolve into a battle of wallets between HPD and Pratt and Miller, it would still be nice to see a little bit of change every few seasons. Is a decade-old chassis still able to stand up to the rigors of the 2022 IndyCar season? The cars and drivers keep getting faster, but are they any safer?