IndyCar to abandon aero kits by 2018

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    IndyCar has announced it will abandon the aerodynamic kits it introduced last season by the end of next year.

    Aerodynamic development will be frozen for next season and the series will return to a single specification for 2018.

    IndyCar announces aero kit development freeze for 2017, universal car in 2018

    INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, Sept 14. 2016) – IndyCar announced today it has placed a freeze on aero kit development for manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda that will take effect immediately in preparation for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Manufacturers will run their current aero kit specifications next season as IndyCar prepares to introduce a universal aero kit for the start of the 2018 season.

    “Today’s announcement follows an extended dialogue with Chevrolet, Honda, our teams and stakeholders – this decision focused on what is best for the future of the Verizon IndyCar Series,” said Jay Frye, IndyCar president of competition and operations. “This is an integral component to IndyCar’s long-term plan to continue to produce the highest quality of on-track competition while also positioning ourselves to add additional engine manufacturers.”

    Aero kit regulations were initially announced in 2013 and introduced into on-track competition in 2015. The kits featured aerodynamic bodywork components that were designed, manufactured and supplied by Chevrolet and Honda for road/street/short oval courses and a separate kit for superspeedways.

    “The 2018 car is a tremendous opportunity for IndyCar and the design collaboration is already underway,” Frye continued. “The goal of the universal car is to be great-looking, less aero dependent, have more potential for mechanical grip/downforce and to incorporate all the latest safety enhancements.”

    On balance, I think this is the right move for IndyCar. While the kits did make the cars quicker it hasn’t been great from a point of view of overtaking and it arguably contributed to the high-speed flips seen at Indianapolis last year. They hoped it would be easy to tell the different types of kit apart, but they’ve tended to converge, which really shouldn’t have come as a surprise. And it’s put costs up in a series which doesn’t need that right now.

    Here’s hoping for 2018 they come up with a lower-downforce design which looks better than the original-spec DW12 is. Perhaps it’s even time to question whether those rear wheel pods are actually worth having from a safety point of view?

    Craig Woollard

    The idea was good but ultimately it failed. Those in charge thought it would bring in manufacturers but Lotus aside, it simply has not. That’s before we mention the vast cost of these things, the questionable appearance of the things and the safety aspect as well.

    As far as I’m concerned it’s absolutely the right thing to do.


    @craig-o I also think it didn’t make sense to tie aerodynamic development to engine manufacturers. If it was ever going to work, it should have been specific to each team. But regardless it’s a cost they don’t need.


    I was really enthusiastic about the idea of these kits originally. But the way it was implemented – with the strange tie in to the engine manufacturers – limited the variance we were going to see from the outset.

    And, as with all aero things nowadays, it was always going to end up with less overtaking, solutions converging and adding a lot of cost.

    I think IndyCar has other things it needs far more than aero kits nowadays. They are now adding some interesting tracks, and I hope that keeping the cost low will help the series get back to high level racing with solid fields of cars.


    I liked the idea of aero kits but agree that tying it to the engine manufacturers was a weird decision. Adding cost to a series that is trying to keep the cost down since the money in the sport is extremely low wasn’t the best idea. It’s also frustrating that the Honda aero kit is terrible on road courses – skewing the competition away from the closer racing we had in 2014 (though it’s still pretty good and, imo, better than F1 at the moment).

    I still think the rear pods are essential – aesthetic arguments are irrelevant to me if safety is improved and I can’t see any good reason to remove them if it prevents any direct wheel to wheel contact. You could perhaps remove them on road courses where the top speeds are lower but I’ll be disappointed if they are removed on ovals.


    “The goal of the universal car is to be great-looking, less aero dependent, have more potential for mechanical grip/downforce and to incorporate all the latest safety enhancements.”

    *mini fist pump*

    Great move. Sounds like ground effect will be more important?


    Early reports about the direction IndyCar will go in with its standard aero kit from 2018 sound encouraging:

    • New 2018-20 body kit to be completely different from post-1997 IRL/IndyCar style
    • Rear wheel guards only to be used at superspeedways
    • Simpler surface wings
    • The proportion of downforce generated by the underside of the car will be increased by using the full width of the car
    • No more overhead air intake; it will move to the sidepods which should also increase engine power

    More here:


    Very interesting. Rear wheel guards at superspeedways only is an interesting move – speaking purely from a safety point of view, I don’t think we need them on road courses because it’s a part that gets easily damaged, and a rear puncture on a road course is not as dangerous as on a superspeedway. However, I do think keeping them at the lower speed (but still very fast) ovals (Iowa, Gateway, Phoenix, Milwaukee if it came back) would be a good idea. A cut tyre there is still very dangerous.

    Safety aside, I actually sort of liked the look of the rear wheel guards because they put the numbers on them (so you could easily tell who you were following from an on board shot) and they gave the cars a unique look, even if it wasn’t universally liked. The tyres also create a lot of turbulence so I thought that the guards might have helped cars follow more easily? I have no evidence to back that up though.

    Regarding everything else – simpler wings and more ground effect will almost certainly help racing, and more power is a good good thing to make sure any corner speed increase is met with faster straight line speed.


    Woah, Keith! You skipped the best thing from the link you provided: “Champ Car-style bodywork set for 2018”
    This sounds awesome!

    “That initiative will replace the overhead air intake with a low, sleek engine cover; twin-turbocharged engines from Chevy and Honda (and any new manufacturers that enter the series) will be fed from new intake scoops integrated into the sidepods.”
    – This was always the hallmark of IndyCars for me.

    “The rear wheel guards are expected to go from full-time use to only being retained for superspeedways, and even then, they will be smaller and less visually intrusive.”
    – What a relief!

    “Frye says there are parallels between IndyCar’s approach to the universal kit and the recent spate of retro-themed muscle cars.
    “If you take today’s Camaro, it looks kind of like the Camaro from the 1960s but it has the big motor, all the electronics, and everything that gives it the retro look but with modern technology,” he said. “There’s probably some balance in there for what we’re looking for with the universal kit. We’ve taken photos of the Indy cars from the last couple of decades, done side-by-side comparisons on what we like and don’t like, and then we’ve taken some of those ideas to our partners, our manufacturers, and gotten their feedback on what might work on that [retro-modern] theme.””
    – OMG, this is wonderful! I’m SUPER EXCITED!


    IndyCar has released the latest image of how the 2018 cars will look. The removal of the rear wheel shrouds is particularly interesting – presumably they no longer feel these are necessary on safety grounds:

    2018 IndyCar design rendering, 2017
    2018 IndyCar design rendering, 2017


    It looks much better. Less aero should make better racing.
    From reading other forums (I haven’t found an official source), those rear wheel guards may return for the speedways.


    @Chalky Yeah I just remembered I actually posted that above! Memory like a sieve…


    I almost wish I hadn’t read this as now I can’t wait for the 2018 season!


    A few more images:

    2018 IndyCar concept
    2018 IndyCar concept

    2018 IndyCar concept
    2018 IndyCar concept


    WOW, the side view with the low rear wing is STUNNING. But I need to see the frontal view, which might just be the most important one in assessing the looks of the car.

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