Here Are Some Of The Other Things The IndyCar Aeroscreen Can Withstand

Illustration for article titled Here Are Some Of The Other Things The IndyCar Aeroscreen Can Withstand
Photo: Arrow McLaren SP (IndyCar)

With the IndyCar season fast approaching, I think it’s high time we all start getting excited about the series’ answer to head protection: the aeroscreen. According to a new interview with Jay Frye, the president of IndyCar, this thing can withstand the force of six Chevy Silverados.

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Now, I don’t know about you, but I have never actually lifted a Silverado, so I can’t quite conceptualize how much weight we’re talking here. Frye’s interview with Autoweek sheds some further light on the kind of weight we’re talking:

“We did a load test on the titanium top frame,” Frye said. “We got to a certain number and that was 34,000 pounds, which is basically six Chevrolet Silverados stacked on top of each other, and it passed that test. At that point, we just really stopped. It’s possible that it could do more than that, but it was well within the criteria of what we were looking for.

“The ballistics test we did, it was a similar type of thing where it was a 3-pound piece at 140, 180, 200, 220 mph. It was many different iterations, and it basically exceeded all of our expectations and all the testing, too.”

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Why don’t we break it down into some numbers that the average human can digest based on the kinds of items you probably just have laying around your house.

The IndyCar aeroscreen can also withstand:

  • 15,436,000 feathers (x)
  • 270 featherweights (x)
  • 68,000 iPhone 11 Pro Maxs (x)
  • 35,500 mini Babybel original cheese rounds (x)
  • ~21 Dallara IR-12 chassis with Dallara IR-18 road/street course aero kit (x)
  • 147,826 pints of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream
  • 387 toilets (x)
  • 8,500 copies of a Lord of the Rings book set
  • 1/3 of a Boeing 737-800 (x)
  • 243 Elizabeth Blackstocks

Got a better idea of how much the aeroscreen can handle? Good!

There’s also an interesting little nugget buried well within the interview that I think is worth pointing out (emphasis mine):

“We think, in our opinion, this is an industry-changing total driver cockpit safety solution,” Frye said. “The Halo is great. It’s worked. We’ve seen it work. It does one thing. The AFP device does one thing. We think this is more of a total solution. It does both. It has the load-bearing capabilities on the top. It has the frontal impact piece for things coming at you.

“Talking about design and engineering, I mean one of the versions of the screen is heated, so it comes with an anti-fogging piece inside of it. There’s really been no stone unturned. This great group has worked really hard to get it where it is.”

What I’m gathering here is that, at least at one point, the aeroscreen contained a screen warmer. It isn’t clear if that’s still the case, if all aeroscreens will come with this anti-fogging device; or if some aeroscreens have them and can be swapped out depending on race conditions; or if a heated screen was, at one point in the developmental process, considered and then rejected. I’ve emailed IndyCar for clarification and will update when I hear back.

But no matter what the case, it really shows a commitment to trying everything before seeing what really sticks.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Freelancer. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

Putting on engineering hat here. I would rather seen a complete test until past failure. Here’s why.

Engineers look at something other than strength for impacts. They look at toughness. Look up Toughness of steel sometime to see why.

A great example of what I mean is this. Take a glass mixing bowl. Drop it a foot on to the ground. Look at it. No damage. Take a metal mixing bowl, drop it a foot onto the ground and there is a dent. Now drop both bowls from 6 feet high. The metal bowl gets a big old dent and is useful to collect all the pieces of the glass bowl. The glass bowl didn’t get any damage from 1 feet, because it is stronger than the metal bowl. The metal bowl is still useful after the last test because it is tougher, so it dents instead of shatters.

In the world of impacts, how the material acts after it is overstressed is critical. The 68,000 lbs doesn’t impress me. Shoot the thing with a gun and tell me what happens. Does it get a hole? Does it shatter? Does it absorb the bullet and keep it from hitting the driver? Yes I do realize that you can get to the realm in insanity there, but a stone hitting shouldn’t cause the windshield to explode, even if it leaves a big mark.