The 2012 IndyCar bidding war is getting interesting. In the past week, after months of no news whatsoever, no less than four companies have jumped into the ring to be the winning manufacturer for the next-generation IndyCar.
The latest to release concepts into the wild, Swift Engineering, Inc. upped the ante by including not only images of concept cars, but also representations of potential innovative features designed to mitigate aerodynamic issues which complicate the kind of close racing the IndyCar series boasts as well as a unique idea for improving the viewing experience for fans.
Swift's concepts are an appealing mix of futuristic styling and retro touches, most notably the partial engine cover which hearkens back to the IndyCars of the 1960s and 1970s. But the most interesting features of Swift's concept cars may be the so-called "mushroom buster" and the concept of SwiftLights.
The Swift "mushroom buster," says Swift's Chris Norris, is designed to address the aerodynamic wake issues that have made passing in close-quarters IndyCar racing such a chore. "The ‘busters’ sweep up the wake behind the leading car, thus improving the handling of the following car," he says. "We have already effectively utilized mushroom busters in our Formula Nippon car design, [and] believe we can now take this technology much further on the IndyCar."
Another innovation, the SwiftLights concept, promises to deliver real-time information about the car's performance visually to fans in the stands and at their televisions. Mark Page, Swift's chief scientist, explains that the SwiftLights "will display car information like throttle, brake and fuel levels as well as race position. Our light sheets are made from a 1 mm thick clear plastic which can be molded over complex shapes like an IndyCar’s bodywork." A SwiftLight on the roll hoop could show race position, while lights on the engine cover and sidepods would indicate fuel level and throttle and brake positions respectively.
Swift is the second manufacturer to release concept art for the 2012 IndyCar. Dallara Automobili released their concept art late last week, while Lola Group is expected to release their own concept art of a "dual body design" in the near future. The Delta Wing concept, created by Ben Bowlby and backed by a consortium of IndyCar team owners, will be unveiled Wednesday at the Chicago Auto Show.