Last December it was announced that Dallara would continue to supply chassis and components to the IndyCar paddock. At that time, I inferred that this would lead to a continuation of the existing DW12 chassis for at least a few more years. On Wednesday, IndyCar announced that the existing DW12 chassis would continue for at least a few more years. The series’ spec chassis made its racing debut in 2012.
The existing chassis will continue to run through at least the end of the 2023 season, meaning every IndyCar race for twelve seasons will have been run on the Dallara DW12 chassis. The car currently on its second redesign. There was the initial standard chassis aerokit, which was replaced by the manufacturer aerokit era from 2015 to 2018. Since the 2019 season started, all teams have been forced to run the same aerokit once again. Technically the aeroscreen was added for the 2020 season, so if you count that, it’s been redesigned three times.
“I don’t see any urgency at all [to develop a new car], there’s no reason,” series boss Roger Penske told Racer. “When you think about, and I don’t know exactly how many cars are in service, but there’s probably 60 or 65 cars, and to spend $600,000 per car to replace them, with the racing as tight as it is today, doesn’t make sense to me.”
“We’ve got cars that are safe,” Penske continued. “You’ve seen the accidents. You’ve seen what the aeroscreens have been able to do from the standpoint of capability and safety, and this will continue from an IndyCar perspective to make the cars better.
“The next hill to climb is to get the hybrid cars running. We’re not taking a vacation because we moved this thing back by 12 months. In fact, we’re doubling down on meetings with Chevy and with Honda to be sure they’re working together as a team to learn this new hybrid system that will be used by everybody. We’re going to push harder and harder on getting the hybrids ready.
“We’ve hit a lot of bumps because of supply chain and COVID, but what I did like is that we just had a test in Indianapolis where both manufacturers ran over 600 miles, first time on the racetrack, with our new engines in the car, which is pretty impressive.”
Dallara has been tied up with IndyCar as a chassis manufacturer for 27 years, and has been the sole chassis supplier for the sport since 2003. The previous chassis, the IR-03, was in play from 2003 to 2011 before it was retired. With the earlier car running nine seasons, it felt like it was an impossibly old racing car. The DW12 is already 11 seasons deep into its tenure, and there’s still one more to go.
By dint of IndyCar postponing its new 2.4-liter engine and hybrid drivetrain to the 2024 season, Dallara has been given an extra year to develop that next-gen chassis. Being that teams are already testing the new 2.4-liter in the old chassis, I would have liked to have seen all of these new components introduced piecemeal as they were built. It would have been really cool to see the 2.4-liter engine and/or a replacement chassis for the 2023 season, with the hybrid system pushed back to 2024 on its own.
Obviously Penske has the sport’s best interest at heart, so it’s not really surprising that he’s erring on the side of reducing costs for teams. I still question, however, whether the car can still withstand the rigors of racing in 2023 as those self same teams continue to get faster with each passing year.