Hidden in the drama of Danica Patrick’s Indianapolis 500 announcement on Friday, IndyCar confirmed that teams will receive substantial discounts for their 2018 universal aero kits. The story was first reported by RACER in September.
In an effort led by the series’ two manufacturers, Chevrolet and Honda, and a grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corportation, the parties involved have teamed up to make auto racing more affordable for current and prospective teams. This is an action that follows Indiana’s attempt to support motorsport industry initiatives as they realize the importance of IndyCar, and more importantly, the Indianapolis 500 on the state’s economy.
Statistics released from IndyCar state that each full-season entry for each team will receive two universal aero kits at no cost to the team. Using a fixed rate that will be locked through the 2020 season, the kits are worth $90,000 apiece and this movement saves the teams $180,000 right out of the box. This is a far cry from the introduction of the DW-12 and manufacturer aero kits released in 2012 and 2015, respectively. As a comparison, teams spent between $125,000 and $165,000 on manufacturer aero kits over the last two seasons, which does not include nearly $15,000 in bodywork updates yearly.
This is an incredible development, not only for teams already in the series but for those looking for entry into IndyCar. Granted, this doesn’t factor in the cost for a brand-new chassis that the aero kit will be placed on, but it is much better than where the costs were for the past two seasons.
Happy to publicize the series’ efforts to reduce costs, IndyCar president of competition Jay Frye takes pride in the steps taken to ease the spending burden on teams. “When IndyCar undertook the process of creating the universal kit that makes our cars sleeker, safer and racier, we also worked hard to make sure it would be cost effective to our teams.” The have certainly accomplished that with the two free aero kits and additionally, savings for teams based in Indiana.
The teams will incur some minor expenses for each chassis, which includes modifications to the mounting locations for bodywork and the shape of the chassis floor. These expenses will total $5,480 per car and cannot be completed by the teams, rather an external vendor. There are also many electronics updates to be implemented with the introduction of a new aero kit. Items such as data loggers, battery updates, wiring looms and updates to engine components will run teams another $17,599 per car. Add in Cosworth’s new LCD screen to be installed on IndyCar steering wheels and that price tag reaches $14,633 for the cheapest installation plan.
Even with the expected $37,712 in updates to the chassis (from tub/floor modifications, plus all electronics expenses), teams are expected to save over $200,000 with the introduction of cheaper bodywork and the two free aero kits.
With the testing period opening on January 8, teams are expected to hit the track at Sebring shortly thereafter. Dallara will begin to ship bodywork components by the end of the month so that teams can fit their cars with the new aero kits before holiday breaks. To date, four teams have had an opportunity to test the new aero kits: Chip Ganassi Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Team Penske.
Stay tuned to Open-Wheels for the latest in offseason developments.