Delta Wingin’

Whoa, Nellie: For the last week or so, I’ve been following the unveiling of several candidates for the next IZOD IndyCar chassis (2012 is the target date for the switch). Dallara released a few evolutionary concepts based on the current model, Lola will unveil their ideas today (last I heard), and Swift has three models for consideration.  (I’ll take #33, please, hot pink with a black Batman logo on the sidepod, please!)  But the wild card is the Delta Wing, an open source concept designed by Ben Bowlby, formerly of Lola, currently with Ganassi. The DWing (aka DeltaWang, Delta Schlong, DeltaWillie) has created an overwhelmingly adverse reaction in the current IndyCar fan base. My thoughts mirror theirs:

  • It doesn’t say “Indy”
  • It’s not open wheel
  • It doesn’t look like a car
  • I can’t picture it actually racing; flying seems lore likely
  • It is wild, cool, innovative, but UGLY AS SIN

The concept itself is fantastic – it would solve a lot of problems the league is suffering from now. The argument in favor of going with it, despite its radical departure in appearance, is that Indy has always been a place of innovation. This is where I have finally discovered my problem with the Delta Wing (besides my searing eyeballs): Radical innovation at Indy has always come in trickles, dribs and drabs. One guy showed up with a  rear engine car here, another with a wacky sidecar design there. If a concept really proved itself,  it was adopted – sometimes more quickly, other times more methodically. What is really bugging me about the possible adoption of the Delta Wing is that it has to be all at once: ugly IndyCars today, uglier “Bonneville Salt Flats meets Elroy Jetson” things tomorrow. It’s just too unattractive and too radical a departure for these all-or-nothing times – especially when the league is positioning itself to remind the world that it is “Indy.”

So far, I’m all for Swift #33 – a batwing front wing with a wild look, but it still says “Indy.” I want to see the league climb back into a position where it can support multiple chassis and then open the door to this “jettified” radical departure. Let it prove itself in the tradition of all Indy innovations, by showing itself to be the best of several.

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