By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Dallara’s U.S. tech home will be inviting
2. Barber recognized for environmental excellence
3. Conway gets in some laps — on simulator
4. Scheckter back in No. 24 MonaVie car for Edmonton
5. Of note
1. Dallara’s U.S. tech home will be inviting: Dallara Automobili envisioned establishing a U.S. facility that would serve as a technology center, engineering classroom, visitor destination and magnet for other auto racing-related industries. It will come to fruition with Dallara’s selection July 14 to manufacture the IndyCar Safety Cell beginning in 2012.
A multi-million dollar brick-and-glass facility in the final design stages will be a cornerstone of the Main Street redevelopment in Speedway, Ind., a few hundred yards from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League headquarters.
The facility will house the Dallara USA technical center, as well as areas for Indy Parts Inc. (the official Dallara spare parts distributor), the Indy Racing Experience (two-seater and single-seater IndyCar programs), Experiential Marketing Inc. (show cars and promotional activities) and the Indy Engine Group (high-performance engine shop).
Plans also include an interactive area, co-sponsored by Hewlett-Packard, where fans can:
• Use an interactive touch-screen wall to learn how an IndyCar is designed and manufactured.
• See the assembly area and watch IndyCar chassis being assembled.
• View the operation of the state-of-the-art vehicle dynamics simulator.
• Drive a scaled down version of the race car simulator.
• Take a ride in a street-legal race car.
• Participate in a pit stop competition.
Future plans also include a restaurant, along with facilities for meetings and parties.
“Dallara are really looking forward to being a part of the community,” said Sam Garrett, U.S. technical liaison for Parma, Italy-based Dallara Automobili. “We’ve been discussing the possibility of opening a U.S. location for several years. The contract to supply the new IndyCar chassis is the catalyst that finally allows it to happen.”
Discussions have been ongoing between Dallara and several Indiana universities regarding the promotion of an engineering curriculum with an emphasis on motorsports, including internships, connection with Formula SAE events, and using the simulator to train engineering students in controlled and repeatable conditions.
“These engineers can then learn to make quick decisions when time is tight, to dig into a lot of data to find the appropriate synthesis, to interact with the driver in real-time situation under pressure and under unexpected but programmable scenarios,” Garrett said. “This is applicable to both road and race cars.”
Formula SAE is a student design competition organized by SAE International (formerly Society of Automotive Engineers) that has been held since 1979. The concept is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a design team to develop a small formula-style race car. Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules whose purpose is both to ensure onsite event operations and promote clever problem solving.
Dallara principals Gianpaolo Dallara and Andrea Toso are Formula SAE design judges.
The IndyCar Safety Cell will be the core of the next generation of IZOD IndyCar Series car. Entrants and constructors, including Dallara, will have the opportunity to “dress” the rolling chassis in aero kits (front and rear wings, sidepods and engine cover) for the series’ diverse set of racetracks that they will market to teams. The rolling chassis will cost $349,000 – a reduction of almost 50 percent of the current race car.
“Dallara welcomes diversity in the look of the car,” Toso said. “IndyCar is no more a de facto spec formula. Third-party companies, including sponsors, engineering centers, race teams, race car manufacturers, automotive manufacturers, can submit to the IRL their design and have the teams race it. The design includes the main bodywork parts and the front and rear wings.
“This diversity aims at promoting interest from the fans, favoring engineering research into more efficient bodywork shapes and creating a strong marketing platform for all partners.”
Also, beginning in 2012, Dallara will offer a $25,000 credit to the Firestone Indy Lights champion for any Dallara parts or services to be used to assist the driver in advancing to the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Already, Town of Speedway officials say three other auto racing-related manufacturers have inquired about locating near Dallara’s building. In November 2009, the commission broke ground on its first construction project. The $10 million Main Street project is part of a $500 million plan for 400 acres of multi-use development.
“Dallara will encourage and welcome other manufactures, shops and motorsports industry suppliers to expand their business around its facility in Speedway, to create a ‘motorsports valley’ for exchanging the know-how and developing activities to increase more jobs in engineering and motorsports industries,” said Stefano de Ponti, Dallara Automobili’s director of U.S. operations.
2. Barber recognized for environmental excellence: Barber Motorsports Park, which played host to its first IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights race weekend in April, has received certification in Environmental Planning from the Audobon Cooperative Sanctuary Program – the only motorsports park in the world to hold such certification.
The program is designed to help landowners preserve and enhance the environmental quality of their property.
“We welcome Barber Motorsports Park’s commitment to managing their property in an environmentally-sensitive manner,” Audubon International staff ecologist Jim Sluiter said.
3. Conway gets in some laps — on simulator: IZOD IndyCar Series driver Mike Conway, recovering in the United Kingdom from injuries suffered in a crash in the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, last week began driving in a racing simulator as part of his workout regimen.
“It is great to be back in the cockpit after the accident seven weeks ago,” said Conway, who the same day had the cast from his left leg removed. “It’s the first time I put weight on (the foot) so I was surprised how well I could hit the brakes. I am pleased to say that I have feeling in my foot and it felt good.”
4. Scheckter back in No. 24 MonaVie car for Edmonton: Tomas Scheckter, who competed in the Honda Indy Toronto for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, will drive the No. 24 MonaVie entry this weekend in the Honda Indy Edmonton.
He’ll team up with Justin Wilson, who earned the PEAK Performance Pole Award in Toronto in the No. 22 Z-Line Designs car.
5. Of note: “The Early Show” segment with anchor/reporter Erica Hill getting a ride in an Indy Racing Experience two-seater and driving an Indy car on the Honda Indy Toronto street circuit will air July 28 on CBS…Andretti Autosport driver Danica Patrick is among the three top female sports stars in the nation, according to an annual Harris Interactive poll. Tennis siblings Venus and Serena Williams are Nos. 1 and 2. Patrick was also selected as one of 30 women who are “Utterly Inspiring Role Models” by Forbes.com. Also included on the list were Melinda Gates, Michele Obama and Oprah Winfrey. … Olympic curling gold medalist and Edmonton resident Kevin Martin will be the grand marshal of the Honda Indy Edmonton. … KV Racing Technology driver Paul Tracy said the impetus for his weight loss was seeing himself in early shots of his SPEED Channel series “Battle of the Supercars.” The show, which co-stars rally and drifting standout Tanner Foust, debuts July 22 at 10 p.m. (ET) … USF2000 driver Zach Veach is featured in the latest issue of Amazing Kids.
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues July 25 with the Honda Indy Edmonton at Edmonton City Centre Airport. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 5 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Edmonton 100 on July 25 at Edmonton City Centre Airport.