An IndyCar fan's "restyling" of the DeltaWing concept in classic Penske Racing colors.
A bold move. The potential savior of Indy-style racing. A grand leap forward in innovation and styling for a moribund racing series.
That is how designer Ben Bowlby and the IndyCar owners behind DeltaWing, LLC look at their new creation.
Not very many IndyCar fans share their perspective - particularly after the foam model was unveiled in Chicago.
But there is one fan out there who does, and he decided that he needed to do his part to get his fellow IndyCar enthusiasts to open their eyes and join him.
Accordingly, he put pen to paper and "reimagined" the DeltaWing on his own. And judging by the results above and the buzz they're creating, he may have achieved his goal... and perhaps he has saved the DeltaWing in the process.
He posts under the name "stpwildcat" at TrackForum.com. He isn't keen on sharing his real name because of his day job as a concept designer for one of the Big 3 automakers.
But he's also an enormous IndyCar fan and has been since he was a young boy growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and his favorite racing family - the Unsers - were the stars of the sport. So when he heard about the DeltaWing concept and the way it could change the whole landscape of IndyCar racing for the better, he was sold.
"I feel this concept is the last hope of our series," he says. "Fans need to see that the concept of the DeltaWing is brilliant."
The big hurdle, of course, is the way that form followed function in Bowlby's design. The DeltaWing foam model that Bowlby and company showed at the Chicago Auto Show set off a firestorm of controversy in fan circles. Put bluntly, people hated the way the car looked, and, initially at least, stpwildcat was no exception. "I hated the DeltaWing when I first saw it," he confesses.
But with his artist's imagination and his industry experience, he realized that the fundamental concept was sound. He got the point that DeltaWing, LLC has so far had trouble communicating to the fans - that the foam model is only a first step and that DeltaWings may end up looking radically different depending on who builds them.
So he decided to help out - unbidden and independently - by putting the idea into pictures. Calling upon his design skills, he sketched out a slightly modified version of the DeltaWing with some styling cues and livery design inspired by a classic Penske Racing chassis.
The changes were kept to a minimum - a slightly different fairing on the rear wing assembly, a rollbar instead of the airbox-styled structure on the model, a shark fin instead of a vertical stabilizer, and more traditional nose that made the front wheels look more separated.
The small changes he made subtly altered the look of the car without tampering with the overarching concept that the DeltaWing represented. And the fans responded.
"10,000,000 times better," said one. "A huge difference," enthused another. And - perhaps the most promising for the DeltaWing supporters - there were more than a few who said, "I could live with this!"
After a week and a half of threats from fans about leaving the series if the DeltaWing was adopted, this represented a major shift in perception for the DeltaWing concept. All in a day's work for stpwildcat, though.
"The looks of the car [grew] on me, but I know the potential for great looks is always available," he says. "I wanted to show some of our more hard-headed fans that this car can look great. It can look great if it's done right.
"I [was] afraid that the backlash toward the DeltaWing would kill it before it starts. So these drawings are meant to open some eyes and minds."
stpwildcat isn't done yet, either. He's planning a total of six different DeltaWing concepts - including a Foyt Coyote - from several different angles to illustrate the potential for multiple manufacturers. He plans to make them into a booklet and hand them off to someone like Robin Miller, who he hopes can get the sketches into the proper hands. He also says that he is trying to work up the nerve to slip a booklet into his neighbor's mailbox. The neighbor? Roger Penske.
As for DeltaWing, LLC? Since the project is supposed to be open-source, initiative like stpwildcat's is likely to be encouraged - perhaps even rewarded with the opportunity to work with them on designs and consulting. If such an offer was made, stpwildcat makes his position clear: "I would do anything and everything for them... in any way."