INDYCAR has set Friday, May 25, 2012 as the deadline for interested manufacturers to commit to building aerodynamic kits for the 2013 and 2014 season.
Regulations governing the so-called "aero kits" - bodywork pieces including engine covers, front and rear wings, and sidepods which are fitted over the base Dallara-built "safety cell" chassis - were issued to interested companies on May 14.
The aero kit concept was introduced as low-cost alternative to the historic practice of companies such as Lola, March, and Dallara building entirely new racecars from the ground up every two or three years. The aero kits are intended to allow for aerodynamic development and competition between different manufacturers while maintaining a safety baseline by basing the aero kits on a common "safety cell."
Teams will be allowed to make a maximum of two switches to new INDYCAR-approved aero kits from the current 2012 Dallara-developed bodywork during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, for a maximum of three kits over the two-year period. Aero kit costs to teams will be capped at $75,000 per kit, which includes both oval and road/street course bodywork.
"We've had great interest from multiple companies," said Will Phillips, INDYCAR vice president of technology, in a press release issued by the sanction today. "Some companies may see this as exciting training for their engineers or as a means to showcase their hardware for aerodynamic development. Others, such as automotive companies, may see this as a way to enhance their North American brand presence."
Current INDYCAR engine suppliers Chevrolet, Honda, and Lotus have expressed plans to develop aero kits, and other companies including former open-wheel chassis builder Swift, Formula 1 builders such as McLaren and Ferrari, and aviation giant Boeing, have all been mentioned in rumors as having interest in the concept.
A list of approved suppliers will be announced in June by INDYCAR, with on-track testing tentatively scheduled for January 2013.